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Spain ‘very positive’ about the future of plastics recycling

The innovative R&D project Circ-Pack has successfully developed solutions covering the full plastics value chain. Industry partners from over 22 European countries say their work proves the feasibility of making plastics circular as well as consumer-friendly way.

The 3-year long project, which was funded by the European Commission, achieved its objectives: developing alternative biodegradable and compostable biomaterials and recyclable bio-based plastic, producing eco-designed formats to replace the non-recyclable multilayer and multi-material packaging, while enhancing sorting and recycling processes. 

Circ-Pack partners worked on three different demo cases. The first one developed, tested and proved a range of biodegradable and compostable biomaterial formulations with a high content of renewable sources. The innovations included coffee capsules, shopping bags with high printability and resistance, and food trays which maintain shape under thermal and mechanical stress.

The second demo case proved the feasibility of producing sustainable and eco-friendly multilayer and multi-material packaging without a loss in consumer satisfaction. Materials developed include a film for fresh product trays and packaging for detergent powder. For the multilayer film, all components decompose in the same conditions in an industrial composting process. For the multi-material box, all components are recyclable in a paper recycling process.

The third demo case found new ways to increase the overall recyclability of plastic through technology and methodology updates. For instance, Circ-Pack generated new pieces of plastic products using recycled plastic from different waste origins.

The R&D initiative was led by Fundación CIRCE of Spain. Project leader Aitana Sáez de Guinoa Vilaplana cites ‘very positive’ results. She says: ‘The design stage is crucial for the pursuit of sustainable packaging value chain. Several actions aimed at reducing the overall impact of plastics and plastic packaging have been taken, such as the use of renewable raw materials for bioplastic production.’

‘The compostability feature can definitively minimise the end-of-life impact of certain formats which today are hardly recyclable,’ the researcher comments.

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