Plastics deliver value through convenient, versatile and lightweight consumer products and advanced performance in high-end applications but, as the environmental consequences of single-use, linear plastics consumption become more evident, public perceptions of plastics are currently at an all-time low. Less than a third of plastic packaging is currently recycled due to technological and economic limitations, and a mindset that undervalues plastics as a single use commodity.
In its recently published Plastics Strategy, the European Commission sets out a vision for “A smart, innovative and sustainable plastics industry, where design and production fully respect the needs of reuse, repair, and recycling, brings growth and jobs to Europe and helps cut EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels.” The vision refers to cost-effective recycling, an expanded European recycling capacity, and a more integrated plastics value chain where the chemicals industry works closely with plastics recyclers to identify wider and higher value applications for recycled materials.
MultiCycle will make a significant contribution towards realizing this EC’s vision, stopping resource depletion, landfilling and incineration of valuable resources and demonstrating the shift to a circular economic model in two important industrial segments – multilayer packaging / flexible films and fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in the automotive sector.
The project is based upon the Fraunhofer IVV patented CreaSolv® Process, which will be taken to pilot scale and digitized for industrial readiness. CreaSolv® Process is a selective, solvent-based extraction process which allows recovery of pure plastics and fibers from mixed wastes without downgrading. Subsequent processing and formulation of recovered materials into valuable products will also be optimized, and the project will evaluate the environmental, social and economic sustainability and techno-economic-environmental feasibility of the proposed developments. As well as recommendations for future upscaling, MultiCycle will produce policy recommendations promoting waste management and resource efficiency improvements for the target packaging and automotive applications.
The 9.7M€ MultiCycle project is supported by 7.7M€ of funding awarded under the 2018 CE-SPIRE 10 Efficient recycling processes for plastic containing materials call. SPIRE is a contractual Public-Private Partnership dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process industries. It combines solid science with industrial and commercial involvement across the plastics value chain and includes research and technology organizations, polymer and fiber producers/recyclers, specialist compounders, manufacturers and converters, along with specialists in life cycle analyses and activities to ensure project dissemination, exploitation and impact. Together they comprise an eco-system uniting the infrastructure, knowledge, expertise, services and industry value chain needed to deliver on the project’s goals and contribute towards both the SPIRE and the broader EU sustainability objectives.The project consortium involves 19 partners from 10 countries across Europe, including ISWA. The Association will support MultiCycle by providing waste compositions statistics, connecting the consortium to the organizations within its network and provide a set of policy recommendations for promoting waste management and resource efficiency improvements for the target packaging and automotive applications.
‘It is important for ISWA to be involved in this innovative and timely project on recovering clean plastics from multi-material waste as the global community agrees on a new plastic agenda going forward. The project emphasizes the need to work together on sustainable solutions for end of life plastic management and to involve all relevant stakeholders along the value chain,’ commented ISWA Interim Managing Director, Arne Ragossnig.
ISWA Technical Director, Aditi Ramola, Technical Project Manager, Jennifer MacDonald, and Communications Manager, Aneta Pawlik, repesented ISWA at the project kick off meeting in Brussels.