Process water – treatment and reuse in plastic recycling industry

The recycling of plastics is a rapidly growing sector. Plastic washing is a key step in the recycling process, and it is water intensive. A standard washing line can use 25m3/hr of water. The process water used for washing is contaminated in various ways depending on the previous use of the plastic material. The treatment and reuse of process water is an important part of the plastic recycling chain, and is necessary in order to reduce costs associated with water supply and disposal.

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The plastic recycling industry produces very different types of process water. Depending on the type of raw material brought in, the recycling plants require different amounts of washing water to achieve the desired degree of cleaning.

The biggest factors are:

  • Different pH ranges from 5 – 13
  • Different temperature ranges from 20 to 85°C
  • COD up to 30,000 mg/l
process water treatment

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With the correct design of the water treatment system, and the right choice of process technology, the process water can be run in a closed circuit – with a low loss of up to a maximum of five percent on your washing line. On this page you will find information about our customised products to make the treatment of process water simple.

Are you already thinking about treating your plastic recycling wash and process water? Contact us! With ClearFox® technologies, we guarantee cost-effective and efficient treatment of your process water.

Process water from plastic recycling – sources and properties

process water treatment plastic recycling

Process water values

Process water is the general term for water that is produced during industrial applications. In plastic recycling, process water is part of the cleaning processes and is responsible for conveyance and washing the recycled material. This happens in settling tanks and float tanks. In plastics processing plants, there are different water cycles with different degrees of contamination. This depends on the input material and its composition, such as PET to PET, post-consumer or post-industrial. The material that is processed does not matter – whether PET, HDPE, PP, PE. This is irrelevant for the treatment of the wash water from your washing line.

At the beginning of the process, usually after a shredding step, there is a pre-cleaning step that washes coarse impurities out of the plastic. This is followed by sorting processes using various technologies as well as further washing steps, which require increasingly higher water quality. It is crucial that no impurities, organic contaminants, or colour particles enter the next process step in the washing line.

process water values

Process water values

dairy wastewater treatment plant design DAF

The quality of the process water depends on its area of application. It should be noted that the highest quality of process water is required for transparent food packaging or films. Knowing the composition of your wastewater is crucial for the accurate planning of your water treatment system. That’s why we work closely with each customer – from the initial idea, through analyses at our in-house laboratory, to the finished plant concept. This way, we can ensure that the plant works efficiently, and we give our customers a full process guarantee.

Process water treatment options

ClearFox® process water treatment solutions are customised for each customer. Plastic recycling requirements vary widely, which is why our design team customises each system. We also offer containerised wash water treatment systems. If you need to expand production capacity, our systems are modular, so they can be extended as needed.

We remove every type of contamination and particle size from your wash water.

These following technologies are typically used by our team for the treatment of process water in plastic recycling:

process water treatment options

Typical dairy wastewater treatment options

dissolved air flotation for process waterclearfox daf

By implementing these technologies for plastic washing lines, we can completely remove COD, BOD5, TSS, oil as well as colour particles and dyes from the deinking process water. Likewise, ClearFox® technologies treat substances dissolved in the water, including hard to remove, persistent substances such as fertilisers. This allows the process water to be run in a closed loop in a washing line with no risk of cross contamination. We can design solutions for batch or continuous operation.

At the customer’s request, we can also clean the process water to a standard suitable for discharge into the sewer system or a receiving water body.

Read also about the advantages of process water treatment.

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Design and purchase of a process water treatment plant 

Once you know the composition and the correct treatment methods for your process water, the next step is the detailed design of the wash water treatment plant. We support you in every area so that you receive a comprehensive concept. With us as your partner, we guarantee you a highly effective plastic recycling wash water treatment solution and the best service from a single source. That is why we are the European market leader in developing and manufacturing plastic wastewater and process water cleaning and reuse systems.

ClearFox FBBR wastewater treatment solution

Aeration process in an FBBR reactor

We attach particular importance to:

  • Small footprint
  • Automatic operation with remote monitoring
  • Lowest operating costs on the market
  • Fast commissioning through plug & play concept
  • Modular solutions, adapted to your conditions
  • Complete service
  • Global capability

Since the company was founded, we have focused on the treatment of industrial process water worldwide. Through research and the development of new technologies, we can treat more complex process waters with difficult pollutants. We have combined the ClearFox® DAF and the biological FBBR treatment processes with advanced electrical oxidation technology and ultrafiltration. In this way, we are adapting to the ever-stricter process water standards.

We construct our plants so, that they integrate seamlessly with existing washing lines. Your process water does not have to travel long distances for treatment, so you can feed it back into the cycle immediately. We attach great importance to a compact footprint for our systems. No matter what form of plastic you recycle, through a precise analysis of your wastewater and an overview of your process steps, we always offer you the most efficient solution.

We involve our partners and clients in every planning step of the process water treatment plant. After purchase, we not only ensure speedy installation and commissioning, we also train your responsible staff to ensure smooth operation of your plant. Our team is at your service worldwide. Using modern remote monitoring, we can optimise and monitor your system in real time.

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Learn about ClearFox® wastewater treatment success stories