Recycling Domestic Polyolefin Waste
The Circumat Project Provides a Model Process
The processing industry needs reliable material qualities in order to employ more and more recycled materials in the production of plastic parts. Above all, the recycling of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) waste calls for R&D activities – and often persuasive work has yet to be done.
Polyolefins Are more Demanding in Recycling
In some applications, recycling and reuse cycles for PET have already been established, whereas post-consumer polyolefns are only rarely recovered/ recycled, although polyolefins make up about 50% of the total amount of the most processed plastics. One reason for this is certainly the lack of stability in the polyolefins needed to resist the degradation of the polymeric chains during and after the recycling process.
In polyesters, longer chains can be achieved by condensation; however, this does not work for polyolefins, since the chains here come from polymerized double bonds. Here it is necessary to explore ways how to maintain the polymeric chains or to establish the polymers.
In the EUR 356,000 Austrian Circumat project to be completed by March 2020, a model process for applications in technical packaging solutions (such as bottles and boxes) or in the realm of consumer goods range is being developed and supported with scientific research. In the project, available technologies and feasible applications will be elucidated. The functionality of the new process must be demonstrated for at least three products using recycled materials.
“The process will then be used as a basis for other products developed from recycled materials. The expertise gained here should be made available to the entire plastics processing industry, above all to the many SMEs that do not have their own R&D departments”, explains Dr. Christoph Burgstaller, project leader and CEO of the non-university Transfercenter für Kunststofftechnik (the plastics research institute and transfer center for plastics technology) in Wels, Austria.
The Öli as a Preliminary Project
A cooking oil storage tank called “Öli” made of 100% recycled post-consumer materials, was developed in a preliminary project. The “Öli” has already demonstrated that so much is feasible if the parties involved are committed to working together. Collaboration beyond various technologies and industries is important here. Showing that it is possible to generate high-quality recycled materials to be used for high-value products should be a priority, Dr. Burgstaller emphasises.
Project Partners of the Circumat Project
- Transfercenter für Kunststofftechnik GmbH (TCKT) as general leader
- Borealis Polyolefine GmbH
- Erema Group GmbH
- Greiner Packaging GmbH
- Innplast Kunststoffe GmbH
- O.Ö. Landes-Abfallverwertungsunternehmen GmbH (LAVU)
- Lindner-Recyclingtech GmbH
- Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Institut für Polymer Extrusion und Compounding (IPEC)