New project to pilot selective recovery of pure plastics from multi-materials waste

Britest to facilitate enhanced impact of new Horizon 2020 Innovation Action

The  MultiCycle project held a successful kick-off meeting in Brussels on 28th November. This new three-year EC Horizon 2020 Innovation Action will deliver an industrial recycling pilot plant for thermoplastic-based multi-materials allowing selective recovery of pure plastics and fibres from mixed wastes without downgrading as a key enabling step towards the realization of a circular plastics economy. As work package lead for training and dissemination, Britest will be applying insight into building effective, flexible training resources from previous projects, and piloting a new framework for enhanced project impact in the EC process industries.

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 have hit our screens, 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 mind-set that undervalues plastics as a single use commodity.

Circular economics to deliver sustainable EU Plastics vision

Multicycle target applications are post consumer multilayer packaging and automotive composites

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 fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites in the automotive sector.

Selective solvent recovery technology

The project is based upon the Fraunhofer IVV patented  CreaSolv® Process, which will be taken to pilot scale and digitised for industrial readiness. CreaSolv® is a selective, solvent-based extraction process which allows recovery of pure plastics and fibres 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.

Delivering impact

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. The project consortium involves 19 partners from 10 countries across Europe. It combines solid science with industrial and commercial involvement across the plastics value chain, and includes research and technology organisations, polymer and fibre 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.

In MultiCycle Britest is leading the work package concerned with training and dissemination. As well as ensuring effective delivery of overall stakeholder engagement, dissemination and communications activity, Britest is playing a leading role in the development of scalable training and education materials, where we will draw on experience gained in the  SusChem Educate to Innovate project and as coordinator of the current SPIRE-11-2017 SPRING project, MultiCycle will be piloting the the use of the SPRING project's framework for enhanced impact of SPIRE projects by addressing the needs and barriers of those who make the decisions to adopt process innovations in industry.