28 Juli 2017

PlastiCircle – Improvement of the plastic packaging waste chain from a circular economy approach

EU-project aims to develop and implement a holistic process to increase recycling rates of packaging waste in Europe

The European plastic market is not currently aligned with the circular economy. More than 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced per year in the EU28 being recycled only 29.7%. This represents a clear loose in the plastic market loop (losses of €10.56bn). Moreover, this goes against the EU legislation on waste (high environmental impact; 23.8 Mt of CO2).

Low recycling rates of plastic are mainly due to the situation of packaging waste (i.e. main plastic waste fraction), since it is mainly domestic residue and consequently the quality of the material collected depends on the system of segregation available and the environmental awareness of citizens.

PlastiCircle aims to develop and implement a holistic process to increase recycling rates of packaging waste in Europe. This will allow to reprocess again plastic waste in the same value chain (i.e. Circular economy; closure of plastic loop). This process is based on four axes: collection (to increase quantity of packaging collected), transport (to reduce costs of recovered plastic), sorting (to increase quality of recovered plastic), and valorization in value-added products (i.e. foam boards, automotive parts like engine covers/bumpers/dashboards, bituminous roofing membranes, garbage bags, asphalt sheets/roofing felts and urban furniture like fences/benches/protection walls).

The target is to increase collection from 81.7% to 87% and valorization in a 9.8%. The implementation of PlastiCircle approach in Europe have the potential to increase collected plastic in 861,250t (reaching 14.14 Mt) and valorization in 1.59Mt. The valorization of this new material, represents a market value of €2.86bn-€7.95bn. Taking into account current figures of the plastic sector (turnover €350bn, 62,000 companies, 1.45M employees), this could imply creation of 500-1400 new companies and the generation of 11,900-33,000 new jobs in the medium to long term if PlastiCircle approach is extended in a EU level.

Source: European Commission CORDIS, Projekte, 2017-06-29.

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