Finding a sustainable way to shape a zero-waste economy is essential to keep the world’s consumption within its planetary boundaries, especially for versatile and widespread materials like plastics. The global consumption of materials such as biomass, fossil fuels, metals, and minerals is expected to double in the next 40 years, with harmful consequences for humans and the environment. The annual plastics production is close to 380 Mt and is expected to double by 2035 and even quadruple by 2050, making it essential to find new solutions for effective and efficient use of resources for their production.
In this scenario, the REPurpose project, funded by the European Union, brings together 10 partners from seven countries of the European Union and one associate partner from UK to be a game-changer in tackling recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and creating new thermoplastic elastomer polymers. REPurpose aims at developing and validating the production of a platform of Safe-and-Sustainable-by-Design, additive-free thermoplastic elastomer prototypes for speciality applications (consumer goods, automotive applications, building & construction) from local post-consumer waste, with intrinsic biodegradability and recyclability properties, and to establish the circular value chain in an enabling environment.
Aimplas, the Plastics Technology Centre, leads the WP2 on Safety and Sustainability by Design, which includes an inventory of plastic additives, regulation and standardization, a good practice guide, among other tasks. AIMPLAS is also in charge of the synthesis of small-scale polymers that will be scaled up by the company B4P, chemical recycling of PET, recyclability and biodegradability tests and the realization of demonstrators together with AAU.
New building blocks derived from biomass or enzymatically degraded polyolefins and PET or paper, and cardboard waste will be incorporated, giving the polymers unique characteristics of recyclability, ecology, and unlimited recycling, surpassing fossil carbon at each recycling stage. The polymers will be tested by relevant stakeholders and dedicated user groups, including global consumer goods producers.
The project also includes a Hop On Facility program to contribute to the ambition of inclusiveness of the future European Research Area by involving legal entities from low R&I performing countries to participate in already selected collaborative projects.
The REPurpose project had its official start on September 19th and 20th 2022 in Ghent, hosted by the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant as coordinator of the research. Four universities and research centres, two non-profit organizations, and five SMEs will work together on these research challenges and lead the way to bring innovation to the public and create a resilient and sustainable European plastics industry. This project has a total investment of 6.5 million euros.
REPurpose beneficiaries are:
- Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant VZW (BE), Coordinator
- B4Plastics (BE)
- AIMPLAS – Plastics Technology Centre (ES)
- Renasci (BE)
- Italbiotec (IT)
- Saarland University (DE)
- Photon Mission (BE)
- University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences- BOKU (AT)
- University of Aalborg (DK)
- AVEP- Asociacion Valenciana De Empresarios De Plasticos (ES)
- REPurpose Associate Partner is Mellizyme Biotechnology Limited (now Epoch BioDesign, UK)