What is plastic packaging could be reused?

Plastic waste is a huge problem. No less than 30 to 40 per cent of household plastic packaging waste is made up of plastic film.

From a technical and organisational point of view, recycling plastic film is very complicated. New film packaging is also almost always manufactured from virgin plastics. This is why six Eurpoean organisations have joined forces to research a closed plastic film chain.

This closed chain should, eventually, reduce the demand for virgin plastics. The organisations involved are Attero, TUSTI, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Dow Benelux, Oerlemans Packaging, and Pokon Naturado. Of these, TUSTI and the TU/e are located in Eindhoven.

This research project is called the ProLiFeX: “Postconsumer Recycling Of L(L)DPE in Flexible EXtrusion” project. Each partner will bring expertise from their various position in the value chain. The study has three goals.

Develop a constant granulate stream

Attero will shred, wash, and recycle household PMS plastic film waste in a granulate. This company will adjust its processes to achieve the correct quality of granulate. The Eindhoven company, TUSTI, is the knowledge partner when it comes to the quality needed to produce a circular plastic film. They will supply the laboratory test facilities to produce the granulates. They will also test them for the relevant properties.

Develop a recycled-plastic film

Certain standards must be met to create high-quality, recycled plastic film. Among other things, the film must be strong enough to, for example, package fertilisers or potting soil. Project partner, Oerlemans Packaging, will produce new plastic films. Oerlemans Packaging, Dow, and the TU/e will design specific recipes for mono-layered as well as multi-layer plastic films.

Dow will perform experimental analyses of the Attero granulates. They will also do these tests on these granulates mixed with other well-chosen materials. These investigations will serve to study the quality, properties, consistency, and variants of this material.

Develop circular consumer product packaging with as much recycled content as possible

The final project partner is Pokon Naturado. They will test the plastic film produced by Oerlemans Packaging. This testing will be done in a fertiliser packaging plant and on multi-layered plastic film packaging for potting soil. These applications were chosen because higher demands are made on this type of packaging. These kinds of plastic films must be able to stretch and seal.

Oerlemans Packaging’s R&D department will study the film’s physical properties, such as printability. This will be done together with Pokon. The TU/e will do additional research. They will disseminate the knowledge gained in this project to the relevant media outlets.

The knowledge gained from this project should enable the consortium partners to identify a packaging with a high percentage of recycled content. This is needed to reduce this plastic film packaging’s CO2 footprint further. The ProLiFeX project will run for 30 months. It is made possible, in part, by a Joint Industry Project subsidy of €495.000.

Sources: Groentennieuws.nl and AGF.nl

Translator: Melinda

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