A new plastics recycling project has been backed with EUR 10 million by the European Commission’s research and innovation programme Horizon2020. Dutch plastics specialist Ioniqa Technologies and the Technical University of Eindhoven are among 22 research/academic institutions, governmental organisations, and industries and SMEs involved in the initiative.
Called Polynspire, the four-year research programme was recently kicked off in Brussels and aims to improve the energy and resource efficiency of recycling processes for post-consumer and post-industrial waste streams containing at least 80% of plastic materials.
New PET recycling plant
As well as being one of the partners, Ioniqa has started work on a new recycling plant. It is being built in the Dutch city of Geleen and is described as the company’s ‘first up-cycling plant’.
‘As of summer 2019, PET plastic waste will be converted into high-grade, pure PET raw material, from which new food packaging will be made,’ says company ceo Tonnis Hooghoudt. The output will be 10 000 tonnes a year.
He adds: ‘Since 2011, we have been developing in our R&D labs in Eindhoven this circular technology to upcycle all types of coloured PET plastic wastes and textiles. Over the past two years we have carried out tests at our demonstration plant at the Port of Rotterdam to prove our process for the production of raw material for food packaging. This was an important step and validates Ioniqa’s circular solution for all stakeholders in the market.’
Big things to follow
Hooghoudt believes the first Ioniqa plant will be followed by ‘many more’. He acknowledges that a plant with a capacity of 10 000 tonnes per year is relatively small compared to market demand.
‘New plants scaling-up to 100 000 or 200 000 tonnes will certainly follow. That is something for large internationally operating parties to take on, though,’ Hooghoudt says. ‘We will focus on licensing our technology globally and this will also ensure that it is implemented faster.’