An Integrated approach towards Recycling of Plastics

Publieke samenvatting / Public summary

Plastics significantly contribute to a sustainable society, through its functionalities (light-weight, transparent, strong, barrier, etc.). However, the downsides of our current plastic usage (leakage of plastics, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and habitat destruction) ask for change. Circular plastics are the solution, provided that in particular hurdles related to the quality of sorted products as input to recycling processes are resolved. In InReP we work together to make plastics circular! For all stakeholders to co-operate we need a common shared understanding of what the plastic challenge is really about. We need to understand what our role is in this challenge and what can and can't be achieved by the current opportunities of conventional and new technologies. But these technologies are limited and often collide with invested interests. Moreover, do recycled plastics meet all the standards of the industry? Currently, the answer is 'no' for most cases of recycled plastics. This means we need new, preferably cheap and environmentally friendly, sorting and recycling technologies.

In 2030 the availability of high quality and fit-for-purpose recycled plastics has been significantly increased by implementation of InReP's main result: Development of technologies in sorting, mechanical and chemical recycling that make high quality recycled plastics available for the two dominating polymer types; polyolefins (PE/PP) and PET.

Korte omschrijving
• Preparation of a quantitative model sketching the future plastic system (TNO) • Development of a modular, integral sorting and/or washing process for delivery of fit-for-purpose sorted products (NTCP) • Adapting chemical recycling (glycolysis) to enable processing of contaminated PET (NHL Stenden) • Development of upcycling technology for PET towards valuable monomers (Hanzehogeschool) • Optimization of mechanical recycling towards food-grade PE&PP (WUR) • Improving chemical recycling (pyrolysis) of polyolefin waste towards food-grade PE&PP (RUG) • Development of upcycling technology for polyolefins (Hanzehogeschool)

Our integrated approach in the recycling of plastics will result in systemic (R1) and technological solutions for sorting & washing of plastic waste (R2), mechanical (R3) and chemical recycling (R4, R6) and upcycling (R5, R7) of polyolefins (PE & PP) and polyesters (PET). The obtained knowledge on the production of high quality recycled plastics can easily be transferred to the recycling of other plastic waste streams. Furthermore, our project aims to progress several processes (optimized sorting and washing, mechanical recycling of PP/PE, glycolysis of PET, naphtha from PP/PE and preparation of valuable monomers from PP/PET) to prototype and/or improved performance at existing pilot facilities. Our initiative will boost the attractiveness of recycling, contribute to the circular transition (technical, social, economic), increase the competitiveness of companies involved within the consortium and encourage academic research and education within this field.