V i r g i n i j u s i r K o

New plastic waste recycling plant in Šiauliai district

Virginijus ir Ko UAB, which has been successfully operating in the waste management and recycling sector in the country for more than 20 years, is taking on a new challenge by launching a new recycling activity for plastic waste this autumn. The collected plastic waste will be recycled into pellets, which will be used as raw material for new products. The project’s capacity will allow the recycling of up to 8,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year.

Assessed the potential of the market and the geography of operations

“At the moment, various opportunities are being created at all levels, both in the European Union and in Lithuania, to ensure circularity in the recycling of plastic waste. These include tax incentives for businesses that recycle plastic waste, financial incentives for companies that introduce more efficient recycling technologies, and increasing requirements for manufacturers to use more and more raw materials from recycled products in new products. Therefore, we are happy to have taken the decision to participate in this sustainability journey, which is important not only for Lithuania or Europe, but also for the whole world, in order to reduce the waste of the Earth’s resources and to increase the level of waste reuse”, – says Virginijus Skublickas, the head of the company “Virginijus ir Ko”.

The company, which has branches in the Klaipėda, Telšiai and Šiauliai regions, currently collects, sorts and prepares for recycling, recycles or initiates appropriate treatment of over 35,000 waste. tonnes of various non-hazardous waste (paper, plastic, glass, wood, other packaging and waste from production activities of enterprises) per year. According to V. Skublicko, the possibility of recycling plastic waste collected from Lithuanian farmers and their organisations became a landmark in the analysis of various possibilities and perspectives of the activity. It is no coincidence that the available territory in the Šiauliai region – in the town of Kairiiai, where the highest density of farmers is closest – was chosen.

“Looking at the amount of plastic waste generated by Lithuanian agriculture and other economic entities, we plan to recycle 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste this year. tonnes of plastic waste, then up to 8,000 tonnes. tonnes of plastic waste per year. The technology will enable the recycling of waste such as big-bags, boxes, nets, various films and other plastic waste to produce polypropylene (PP), high or low density polyethylene pellets. We will then pass this raw material on to the manufacturers of new products, in line with recognised waste management standards,” says Skublickas. He points out that the company will concentrate on the segment of recycling of large bags of waste and will be one of the first in the Baltic States to do so.

From the start of the project in 2020. The company invested almost €6 million in the construction of a new plastic waste recycling plant in the industrial area of Kairiiai. EUR 1.3 million of which almost EUR 1.3 million was spent on the implementation of the new programme. The remaining part of the total amount is financed by Virginijus ir Ko UAB. The project investment is expected to pay for itself within 5-7 years, taking into account possible market developments.

To ensure the efficient operation of the new recycling plant, the company will look for forms of cooperation with local authorities, in line with its chosen strategy of collecting all types of plastic waste suitable for the plant from different groups of waste holders.

Plastic waste turns into quality raw material for new products

“The main objective of the project is to produce high quality pellets that can be used to make the same products from which they were recycled. For example, if we recycle woven big bags, or ‘Big Bags’, the pellets from them should be suitable for the same type of bag, and if we recycle haylage film, the pellets can be used again for the production of a similar film, and so on. Our aim is to ensure a closed circle, where waste becomes raw material and vice versa,” says the company’s CEO.

A new processing line has been installed to recycle plastic waste, consisting of a shredding and washing plant for plastic waste, a process water treatment system and a granulation plant with odour extraction.

“These are technologies that have been developed over many years by equipment manufacturers with long experience, and have been adapted and designed for our needs to produce very high quality pellets – very close to the original raw material plastic pellets. To our knowledge, there are only a few recyclers of such plastic waste in the Baltic States, so we have free space to operate,” says Skublickas.

He said that the team of specialists assigned to the project had visited around ten similar plants in Europe before the project started and had selected some of the most advanced manufacturers of such equipment. The chosen technology not only has double plastic filtration technology, but also odour extraction.

As before, plastic waste for recycling will be accepted from a wide range of legal entities (farmers, agricultural companies, industrial and manufacturing companies, etc.) and other waste managers. The products will be marketed in Lithuania and other European countries where plastics companies with a need for such raw materials are present.

It is estimated that recycling plastic saves up to 90% compared to producing plastic from virgin raw materials. CO2 emissions. “According to the head of Virginijus ir Ko, almost one third of the plastic waste generated in our country is sent to other European countries, primarily to Latvia, Poland and Romania.

“Transporting waste over long routes is not sustainable. By recycling the waste generated in Lithuania, we will make an additional contribution to a cleaner and fairer future. Meanwhile, as manufacturers increasingly focus on the production of quality recycled products or technologies for using recycled raw materials, we will feel socially responsible and efficient participants in the circular economy,” says Skublickas.

Benefits for the local community

During the project period, the environment and existing buildings on the territory of the Šiauliai waste sorting unit in Kairiiai were landscaped, a sanitary protection zone for the new production facility was established, the mandatory environmental impact assessment procedures were carried out, and all communications were prepared and adapted. The company’s funds were used to build a noise barrier in the factory area to ensure the needs of the nearest inhabitants for silence and tranquillity during quiet periods, to upgrade or replace part of the centralised sewage disposal networks of UAB Kuršėnų vandenys, to adapt the water body adjacent to the territory for fire-fighting purposes – to provide an access road compliant with fire-fighting requirements, to install water intake wells etc.

Given the sensitivity of the public to similar production facilities, detailed studies have been carried out to confirm that the activities will comply with the permissible standards for odour, noise and air pollution.

The project plans to create 30 jobs, a third of which will be created before the new plant is operational.

“During the project we have seen how important it is to achieve the goal of synergy and integrity between all the institutions involved, such as the Šiauliai District Municipality Administration, the National Public Health Centre, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Protection and, of course, the general public. Only by working together can we increase the efficiency of waste recycling and reduce the consumption of new resources, while preserving and respecting the environment around us,” said V. Skublickas, the company’s CEO.

UAB Virginijus ir Ko has received partial funding of EUR 1 287 511 (excluding VAT) for the purchase of production equipment from the European Regional Development Fund under the project “Introduction of technological eco-innovations related to the development of new products in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment in UAB Virginijus ir Ko”, No 03.3.2-LVPA-K-837-04-00008, which is being implemented under the 2014-2020 programme. Measure 03.3.2-LVPA-K-837 “Eco-innovation LT+” of the Operational Programme for Investment of European Union Funds.