ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM TARGETED
27.1 mill. tons of plastics are yearly collected from post consumer waste, but only 31.1% is recycled. The rest is landfilled (27.3%) or incinerated (41.6%) (PlasticsEurope, 2017).Therefore, nearly 7.4 mill. tons of plastic waste are landfilled, taking 1000 years to degrade with no possibility of recycling or reuse. Even worst, plastics come to our lungs and our tables, like microplastics in the air, water & food, with unknown effects for health (COM2018 28).
In 10 years, plastic waste recycling has increased by 80%. Even thought, plastic recovery is still very uneven in EU. Although the total EU situation is improving, in many countries landfill is still the 1st or 2nd option of treatment for plastic post-consumer waste (Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH). This is a real environmental & health problem, moreover if we consider that plastics can have a second live.
According to the waste management hierarchy, landfilling is the least preferable option and should be limited to the necessary mínimum.
LIFEPLASMIX’s main objective is to demonstrate how to recover & recycle PLASTIC MIX waste contained in MSW, avoiding its incineration & landfilling. Valorising PP, PS (GPPS+HIPS) EPS (EPS+XPS) into high quality recycled pellets ready to be used in new products, including food packaging (one of the most strigent markets)
Demonstration will be done through innovative technologies in a preindustrial recycling plant located in Alhendín (Granada, Spain), that will produce 3.769 ton/year of recycled material LIFEPLASMIX implements the first preindustrial pilot demonstration of a new cost-effective recycling solution based on optical separation, washing & extrusion.
A solution that will lead to 90% PP, PS & EPS waste deposit reduction (MSW contains 2% of PLASTIC MIX). A waste fraction that is currently neither recovered and nor recycled.
Experts assure that sectors of the plastic value chain will grew in following years (+2.5% anual according to Plasticseurope) so landfill environmental problem will grow up proportionally. To face this, the EC adopted in 2015 an Action Plan for Circular Economy (COM2015 614) identifying plastics as a key priority. Following this path, the first Strategy for Plastic in A Circular Economy (COM2018 28) was approved in January 2018. Laying the foundations to a new plastics economy, where the design & production of plastics & products fully respect reuse, repair & recycling needs & more sustainable materials are developed & promoted.
The strategy establishes ratios of recovery & recycling of 50% of municipal solid waste (MSW) by 2025 and a max of 10% landfill by 2035.
LIFEPLASMIX will demonstrate how to benefit from the full potential of a plastic fraction that currently is neither recovered or recycled, PLASTIC MIX (PP,PS&EPS) using more sustainable options of waste sorting & recycling & fostering a new business concept, based on circular economy – turning waste into new high-quality raw materials PLASTIC MIX (PP,PS&EPS) -mainly used in packaging, bottles, trays, etc.- is 16% of total MSW Plastics
(2.3% in weight of total MSW) but nowadays is only recycled if collected on its own -with any other typeof waste material. Therefore, separation & recycling processes are simple & cost-effective. When plastics rests alongside other products, mostly organic, it absorbs both humidity & rot smells.
This makes necessary to include separating & washing steps in the recycling process to have high-quality and cost-efficient results. Considering that nearly 80% of population disposes all waste in the same container, with no separation, and together to an undervalue of recycling materials quality and its potential to be used in new high-quality products, has drove PLASTIC MIX waste to a relegated position.
To overcome this problem, LIFEPLASMIX aims to implement a circular economy concept for PLASTIC MIX (PP, PS&EPS) taking it from MSW and recycling it. Obtaining recycled polymers of high quality ready to be use in new products, including food packaging ones.
Results will foster the achievement of EU targets, as it will demonstrate a solution to increasing plastic recycling rate from 31% to 42%, meaning a reduction of 11% of total plastics in MSW landfilled and incinerated.
To demonstrate that it is possible achieving 90% recovery rate of the PLASTIC MIX contained in MSW through innovative cost-effective technologies spanning the value chain of recycling.
To reduce by 5.600 tons/year plastic waste landfilled & incinerated (13% of total plastic waste in MSW) by recovering & recycling PLASTIC MIX, in particular PP, PS & EPS, a waste fraction that is currently neither recovered and nor recycled.
To revalorize urban plastic mix waste, incorporating 80% of PP, PS & EPS recovered in new products, supporting the new plastic circular economy. (3.769 tons/year of recycled PP, PS & EPS).
Increase the quality
To increase the quality of recycled final materials, reaching levels of food packaging production. Demonstrating that recycling materials are no longer the “imperfect substitutes” of the Virgin Pellets (WRAP, 2007).
To reduce the plastic industry’s carbon footprint and CO2 emissions by 68.9% when comparing the use of recycled plastic to virgin materials. Reducing 1.0 tons of CO2, per ton of PP/PS used by the plastic industry.
Replicate the solution
To replicate and transfer the LIFEPLASMIX solution to other EU regions.
Active the dissemination
To foster the deployment of PLASTIC MIX recycling integrated solutions, at local and EU levels, through targeted dissemination actions.
To create full-time and part-time jobs during demonstration.
To improve the waste treatment sector´s competitiveness with a solution that will make their activity more profitable.
Effectiveness and efficiency
To create a framework integrating all stakeholders so project results impact will be maximized.