IS THERE LIFE AFTER YOGHURT?
PLASTIC CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The circular economy involves switching from a linear 'make-take-dispose' economy to a circular one based on 'reduce, reuse and recycle'. An economy in which waste and pollution are designed out, products and materials are kept in use for longer, and natural systems are regenerated. The plastics circular economy is a model for a closed system that promotes the reuse of plastic products, generates value from waste and avoids sending recoverable plastics to landfill. Plastic waste is a valuable resource that can be used to produce new plastic raw materials and manufacture plastic parts and products, or to generate energy when recycling is not viable.
Armacell is working towards a circular economy in multiple ways, focusing on converting more waste into recyclates, maximising resource efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
ARMACELL AND PLASTICIRCLE
A project to reinvent the way we treat plastic packaging
Twenty European organisations have joined forces to reinvent the way we deal with plastic packaging. Funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, PlastiCircle is introducing innovations in waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling. The aim is to transform plastic packaging waste into valuable products, creating a truly circular economy for plastics. And for what reason? It's simple: plastic packaging is too valuable to waste.
With regard to waste collection, PlastiCircle is developing an intelligent container that has user identification capabilities, label expending functionalities and anti-fraud measures, and is also able to recognise the level of waste and automatically inform the waste transport companies via intelligent communication technologies. Developed as a portable prototype, the system can be easily integrated into existing non-smart containers. To motivate citizens to participate in the project and contribute to the performance, PlastiCircle helps cities conceive and implement incentive schemes. This is to encourage better separation of plastic waste and reduce the amount of mixed waste generated.
In addition to measuring the filling level of the smart containers, which allows the containers to be collected only when they are full, the new system also introduces efficient driving with optimised routes, to save fuel and transport costs. All this is aimed at optimising the costs of transporting plastic packaging from the cities to the sorting plants.
Correct separation of the different types of plastics is crucial for recycling. For this purpose, PlastiCircle improves the sorting technologies, also for multi-layer and multi-material packaging.
In the area of recycling, partners from different industries develop processes to produce value-added products from the materials recovered from packaging waste. The processes used are extrusion, injection moulding and compression moulding. Examples of applications include automotive parts, foam boards for the building and construction sector, rubbish bags, asphalt, fences and benches.
Armacell and PlastiCircle have joined forces to reinvent the way we deal with plastic packaging
Within the PlastiCircle project, Armacell is developing a process to turn mixed sources of recycled PET, including PET from trays, into high quality foam boards for technical applications. The transformation into technical foam products can further increase the percentage of recycled plastics and provide long-lasting products that give a second life to packaging material. Currently, PET tray material is not widely recycled and is likely to be incinerated. The challenges of recycling this material include the low intrinsic viscosity (IV), the frequent use of multilayer sheets in packaging trays, and other contaminations coming from mixed plastic household waste collection. With a combination of an adapted process and a newly developed recipe, Armacell has succeeded in producing high-quality PET foam boards from tray PET on our pilot line. This opens up the possibility of using a new source of material and of recycling material that is not easy to recycle and would otherwise not be reused.