Quantum leap in plastics recycling – minimise incineration and maximise material-to-material recycling
Plastics are irreplaceable materials enabling growth for modern society, but their production and end-of-life are not sustainable today.
Plastics are versatile materials and have many superior properties such as durability, formability and light-weight. For example, plastics secure clean water, healthcare, a safe and effective food chain, reduce food waste, enable clean energy and electrification.
The objective is to transform the entire plastics value chain sustainable, addressing the four key industry challenges together with ecosystem partners:
The topics to look into in this R&D theme are related to mapping of various renewable feedstock alternatives (e.g. alcohols, gasification, CO2 derivates etc.). Further, the SPIRIT ecosystem aims to perform opportunity assessment on identified renewable feedstock and develop a concept and portfolio for them. This includes production technologies, pre- and post-treatments, logistics and infra. In addition, the processing of renewable or recycled feedstock will be tested and analytical methods for new feedstock will be developed.
In this R&D theme, the focus will be to map the potential of plastics waste as raw material vs. recycling capacity. Further, the SPIRIT programme wants to explore the value circle and business model of the plastics recycling — from the collection of plastic waste to sorting and extrusion. There is also a need to identify the current bottlenecks in mechanical recycling and develop the concept for chemical recycling technology including pre- and post-treatment and logistics. The approach in this R&D theme integrates mechanical and chemical recycling and also focuses on the quality of the recycled plastics.
In this R&D area, the SPIRIT programme will evaluate the impact of renewable or recycled feedstock on furnaces and explores other alternative routes to bypass furnaces. Within the SPIRIT programme, new furnace concepts such as electrification, H2 firing, and efficiency improvements will be developed to establish a furnace roadmap. Methane concepts and evaluation of CO2 capture (CCS/CCU concept) are also in the interest of the programme. Finally, the H2 and electricity concepts and infra such as renewable energy, electricity grid, etc. need to be evaluated.
In this overarching theme, the SPIRIT programme will focus on developing the circular product offering to meet the demands of the value chain. The product offering could be related to the design for recycling, recycled content, and reduced CO2 footprint. Analytical methods for circular products and their raw materials and environmental product declarations of circular products will also need to be developed. The market and ecosystem for circular products needs to be shaped. This includes new business models for reuse and development of the recycling concept. Finally, advocacy in standardisation and regulatory areas is needed. This entails topics such as mass balance, recyclability, recycled content, ecolabels, etc.