In 2017 Europe generated about 25 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste of which only 29.7% was recycled. And the recycling itself is not only a fact of properly sorting and management of wastes, the deeper challenge is to find the applications in which the recycled material could be cost-effectively used.
In order to tackle the challenge of waste valorisation, a new European project has just started last week in Slovenia. This project, entitled CEPLAFIB, will transform two post-consumer wastes: urban plastic waste and newsprint paper, into novel primary resources for high added value applications through their combination in novel recycled fibre reinforced composite materials.
In this sense CEPLAFIB aims to orchestrate a new circular economy in which recycled postconsumer plastic will be reinforced with re-claimed pulp fibres to improve their end performance characteristics and to stabilize the recyclates flows for their direct use in mass application sectors, i.e. automotive, caravanning, packaging and construction.
Figure 1: Project consortium map.
“CEPLAFIB project will demonstrate that by using the cost-efficient technologies for plastic & paper waste sorting, selection, treatment and transforming processes we can boost the linear economy of recycled materials into circular transition, where plastic waste and newsprint residues seeks their new utility values in the form of composite material for mass production applications.”
Dr. Vesna Žepič Bogataj, Project Coordinator (TECOS – Slovenia)
These new products will be rigid industrial packaging, interior components for recreational vehicles (RV’s), and building isolation panels. To guarantee the maximum efficiency, CEPLAFIB will use a global synergistic approach to drive changes, combining different manufacturing technologies and applications and is focused in complementary roles of diversified industrial sectors.
Final demonstrators for caravanning sector will be fabricated in Slovenia, while the production line for rigid packaging is to be settled in Finland. The extrusion compounding line is to be established in Spain, demonstrating that recycled rate can be increased by 40% and the greenhouse emissions can be reduced by 40%, when comparing current recycling activities.
The project is coordinated by TECOS - Slovenian Tool and Die Development Centre and consists in a 6 European consortium partnership. Other entities participating in the project are Adria Mobil and Omaplast (Slovenia), Aitiip Technology Centre (Spain), Ecopulp (Finland) and Building Research Institute (Poland). This project will expand from July 2018 to June 2021 and has a total project budget of 1.8M€
Figure 2. Project consortium
Besides coordination project management, TECOS is involved in setting up the requirements & processing protocols for automotive prototype design & manufacturing, production and technical validation by up to TRL-6.
LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed more than 4500 projects. For the 2014-2020 funding period, LIFE will contribute approximately €3.4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate.