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Dewater and compress for better recovery with WEIMA

Australia is starting to embrace the circular economy and industry is looking for the machines and technologies to make it a reality. In the case of dewatering and pressing recyclables and organic material, the WEIMA – PUEHLER press series, offers new technology to meet sustainability targets, especially for the dairy and brewery industries of Australia and New Zealand.

Not only do these solutions need to be practical and cost-effective, they also need to be easy to operate and reduce waste. With many global success stories, CEMAC technologies, WEIMA’s local distributor, is ready to deliver a circular economy for the food and beverage industry in Australia, displaying the PUEHLER E.200 for the first time at this year’s Food Pro exhibition.

Labels and cans ready to recycle

Every year, German brewer OeTTINGER fills around two billion bottles and cans at four locations in Germany. This is a total of around eight million hectoliters of beer, beer mixes and soft drinks. Once the reusable glass bottles are returned, the labels are removed and the bottles washed.

Several hydraulic PUEHLER A series label presses have been doing their job here for many years. By compacting and dewatering the wet label residues, the company reduces the volume of waste and its transport costs. The lye produced during cleaning is separated from the almost dry bottle labels and can then be disposed. Formed into a round pellet, the labels are now pure paper waste.

OeTTINGER’s second area of application for the PUEHLER presses concerns the processing of scrap cans. When filling beverage cans, it is inevitable that individual cans are underfilled or overfilled at the beginning and end of a production cycle. They do not meet the brewery’s quality standards. At OeTTINGER, the ejection process is automated and takes place at lightning speed thanks to the use of sensors.

“We were not satisfied with the previous solution,” said Johann Dietrich, master brewer at OeTTINGER. “Individual beer cans were also compacted, but the compaction was not as uniform as with the PUEHLER machine. The focus for OeTTINGER is on reducing freight volumes. Our cans are now optimally compacted to form a compact disc with a diameter of 200mm. With the help of our recycling partners, aluminium cans can be returned to the raw material cycle.”

At two of OeTTINGER’s filling sites, the hydraulic presses for cans are from the WEIMA’s PUEHLER G Recycling Series. At a distance from the actual filling line, they serve as a central collection point for internal can recycling, and, depending on the amount of waste, they are operated flexibly by up to 30 different employees.

“From the very beginning, when we purchased the machine, it was important to us that it was easy to operate,” said Dietrich. “What we appreciate most about the PUEHLER G.200 is the uncomplicated cleaning and its high availability. And if a malfunction does occur, it can usually be easily remedied.”

Efficiency through automation

Similar to the OeTTINGER case, the Fiddlehead Brewing Company in the state of Vermont, USA, had overfilling and underfilling issues with its specialist beers, pilsners, and Indian Pale Ales. Removing cans that don’t meet the breweries quality standards was usually a labour intensive exercise.

“Efficiency is particularly important to us, but we also want our employees to enjoy their work. Emptying the cans was very time-consuming and we knew there had to be a better solution,” said Jon Moorer, Fiddlehead’s production manager.

The answer to making the process more efficient was to install a WEIMA PUEHLER E.200 drainage press, which drains and compresses the beer cans that don’t conform to specifications. Not only does it save time, but it is easy to use as it is a plug-and-play solution.

The machine allows for rejects to be automatically ejected from the conveyor belt, so they end up directly in the hopper of the E.200. However, manual loading is also possible at any time via the curved hopper.

The cans are compacted using a hydraulic press cylinder. A metal plate that can be moved down hydraulically serves as the

pressing resistance. The drained beer flows through a screen into the drain pan and is then disposed. The discharge pipe ejects the compressed discs with a diameter of 200mm.

Not a drop wasted

Swiss dairy manufacturer Emmi has always been aware of the accompanying responsibility for employees, society and the environment – and acts accordingly in a sustainable manner. Using a WEIMA PUEHLER G.300 ReWork draining press, overfilled or underfilled milk cartons are automatically opened and emptied in order to return the recovered milk to the production process. The result: an efficient resource cycle.

This is where the ReWork process comes into play. The focus is on preventing and using high-quality waste. To ensure this, the contents and packaging must be separated mechanically and are guaranteed to be free of contamination. This is the only way that the recovered milk can be refilled and the beverage cartons recycled.

“We process around 190 million litres of milk and about 60 million litres of cream,” said deputy site manager Hans-Peter Steuri. “Before using the PUEHLER press, we had to manually open every full piece of waste packaging. That was hardly productive. With WEIMA, we have finally found the right partner for our task.”

Steuri described the stringent demands that the new PUEHLER ReWork press meets.

“As a food manufacturer, hygiene is the be-all and end-all,” he said. “WEIMA machines are user-friendly to maintain, have CIP (automatic cleaning in place) and comply with strict hygienic design specifications. In addition to the high throughput, the WEIMA system requires less space than those of other providers.”

In order to further automate the processes, the machine loading takes place via a compact lifting and tilting device, which is made of stainless steel. The milk cartons collected in plastic boxes are transported into the large hopper of the ReWork. At regular stroke intervals, the cartons are pressed horizontally in the pressing channel by a pressing cylinder moving against a press plate lowered for the process. This drains the packaging and simultaneously compresses it. An advantage is the machine can be used flexibly – there is no conversion for different packaging sizes or types.

The milk first flows through a round-hole screen into the collection tray under the press channel before it is pumped out into large stainless-steel tanks. With the next press stroke, the emptied packages, now formed into manageable compressed disks with a diameter of 300mm, are transported away via a discharge tube. The residual moisture of the milk cartons is minimal due to the compaction. The contents have been cleanly separated from the packaging. Both material flows can be flawlessly processed. In the case of the packaging, this means: 100 percent recycling at Emmi.

Emmi’s ReWork facility pays off in many ways. WEIMA PUEHLER G.300 ReWork actively supports the Swiss dairy processor in its environmental goals – away from a linear economy and towards a recycling-based circular economy.

CEMAC technologies sales specialist, Jonathan Tan, is excited to bring the technology to Australia and New Zealand with ‘a lot of potential in dairy, brewing and condiment production lines and a real opportunity to move in-house recycling to a circular economy’. The machines can also be used to dewater loose material such as sludge and metal chips.

WEIMA machines are not only designed with the circular economy in mind, but also worker safety, cost effectiveness and time savings. All products are easy to install, intuitive to use, and compact to fit most production lines.

As printed in Inside Waste, August 2023


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