A new EU-funded initiative aims to transform plastic waste into a resource by developing a more sustainable, re-usable form of packaging. Launched in May, the project will support market uptake of the new packaging, promoting a transition to a circular economy.
CIRC-PACK (Towards circular economy in the plastic packaging value chain) will create, test and validate alternative bio-based and recyclable (including biodegradable or compostable) plastics for the manufacturing of trays, bottles, coffee capsules, jars, films and pallets, and new types of multilayer and multimaterial packaging. It is also expected to improve the recycling rates of the automotive and hygiene product industries, and increase the amount of recycled materials in products such as car parts, sanitary towels and nappies.
A 22-partner consortium led by the Zaragoza-based Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE) will carry out three large-scale demonstrations through an eco-innovative approach that will involve actors across the whole value chain, including consumers, plastic suppliers, converters and retailers, as well as those responsible for waste recovery.
The first demonstration will focus on producing biodegradable or compostable polyesters with enhanced properties using renewable resources instead of fossil feedstock.
The second will improve the recyclability of multilayer and multi-material packaging, which is known for being difficult to recycle. This will be achieved through smart eco-designs which will use new materials that make it easier to collect, sort and recycle the waste, reducing environmental impact.
The third demonstration will enhance existing sorting and recycling processes through new monitoring systems and technologies, increasing recovery rates and ensuring quality and reliability.
Awareness raising activities targeting consumers and other stakeholders will help to create an enabling regulatory environment and facilitate the adoption and replicability of the developed solutions, as well as of new business models.
The CIRC-PACK kick-off meeting took place from 23 – 24 May in Zaragoza, Spain, gathering participants from the public and the private sector as well as research organisations and non-profits from Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Turkey.
Aitana Saez, Project Coordinator, said: “Through the improvement of product materials, design and end-of-life disposal, the project will bring considerable technological, environmental, economic and social benefits, such as contributing to greater resource efficiency and generating new job opportunities, in line with EU strategic objectives. The establishment of synergies with similar projects will be essential to attaining the expected results.”
CIRC-PACK will run over three years and results will be openly accessible via the project website (to be released in October 2017).