Plastic Packaging: from waste to valuable resources

The PlastiCircle project aims to improve collection, transport, sorting and recycling rates of plastic packaging in Europe

Rivalta Scrivia, 20/07/2017 – About twenty European partners, led by the Research and Innovation Center for Packaging and Logistics (ITENE), are reinventing the process of processing plastic packaging in order to make recycling more accessible, suitable and cost-effective for both citizens and industry professionals.

The project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon2020 Research and Innovation Program, aims to optimize the various stages needed to transform waste into value-added products: from the development of intelligent collection containers to the improvement of the Transport and sorting technologies. The purpose is to retrieve and convert materials within the same chain.

PlastiCircle (Improvement plastic packaging waste pipes according to a circular economic approach) was launched at a meeting held in June 20-21 in Valencia, Spain, involving nine countries organizations that illustrated the innovations foreseen for the various Stages of the project, to be experimented initially in the cities of Utrecht (Netherlands), Valencia (Spain) and Alba Iulia (Romania).

First, the development of an innovative system able to identify the quantity and quality of packaging deposited in the boxes by each citizen will be needed to implement a system of incentives. The idea is to encourage a proper differentiated collection and to reduce the undifferentiated waste generated.

At the same time, the cost of transporting plastic will be reduced, saving, for example, the fuel used for traveling from the city center to the disposal facility; the bins will be equipped with a sensor that will indicate the fill level, so as to update the collection trucks in real time; an on-board compactor will maximize the amount of waste transported for each trip; and operators will be trained to drive efficiently.

The third intervention will improve the technologies used for sorting to achieve better separation of different types of plastics in treatment facilities, including plastic in multi-layer and multi-material packs, since plastics can only be recycled if adequately separated.

The last phase will focus on the conversion of materials made in products such as car parts, turbo foam panels and roofing structures, garbage bags, asphalt, fences and benches – through extrusion, injection and compression – closing the cycle.

PlastiCircle will also develop new business models and will promote the market spread of solutions proposed through training and awareness activities for citizens, institutions and businesses.
César Aliaga, project coordinator, said: “Today, more than 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced annually in the EU (50 kg per citizen). Of these, only 29.7 % are recovered, while 39.5 % are incinerated and 30.8 % end up in landfills. Plastic recycling can be improved if we can increase collection rates and implement new sorting technologies that allow high quality plastics to be transformed into useful products of commercial value.

Despite the fact that packaging accounts for 63 % of the total amount of plastic waste generated in Europe, only 34 % of them are recycled, with even lower rates in eastern and southern countries. This has a huge environmental impact and is a waste of resources.”

His colleague Óscar Ruiz concluded: “Transforming plastic waste into a valuable resource through an integrated approach will help achieve EU goals, including recycling 75 % of packaging by 2030 and ultimately the whole company will benefit. These innovative manufacturing processes are expected to lead to better waste management in general and have a positive impact on the European economy, including job creation.”

PlastiCircle is a four year project. The results will be made accessible through the project website, which will be available from November 2017.

Proplast, Consorzio per la Promozione della Cultura Plastica

 

For more information about PlastiCircle, please contact:

 

This project received funding from Horizon2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation (Grant Agreement No. 730292).
Disclaimer: The responsibility of the content of this press release is exclusively by the author, and it does not in any way reflect the views of the European Commission.

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