To many, the circular economy is still a translucent term which has no real meaning. But by definition it looks beyond our current disposal and extraction and concentrates on restoring and regenerating designs. This is a concept which the EU are keen to promote and transform our plastic waste into a more sustainable, re-usable form of packaging. By doing so, leading us one step closer to the circular economy. The start of this three year project was launched in May and will call upon a 22 partner consortium led by the Zaragoza-based Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE). Participants will carry out three large scale demonstrations that will involve parties across the value chain including consumers, plastic suppliers, converters and retailers. It is hoped this initiative will create, test and validate alternative bio-based and recyclable plastics to manufacture bottles, jars, trays, films and multilayer packaging.
"The first demonstration will focus on producing biodegradable or compostable polyesters with enhanced properties using renewable resources instead of fossil feedstock."
EU counterparts expect this initiative to increase the amount of recycled materials in products such as car parts, sanitary towels and nappies. So far the CIRC-PACK scheme has had a lot of support from industry leaders in Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey. Novamont, Plastipolis, Fater S.p.A and Mater Biotech are just some of the companies devising awareness raising activities to target consumers and other stakeholders. The three year programme aims to create a regulatory environment and facilitate the adoption and replicability of the developed solutions, as well as of new business models.
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.”
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. And the third demonstration will enhance existing sorting and recycling processes through new monitoring systems and technologies, increasing recovery rates and ensuring quality and reliability.
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