With view on circular economy, recycling of products after use is key. Currently merely 30% of our plastic and textile waste is being recycled. The vast majority of recyclable products are actually one component materials, circumventing the necessity of a separation step.

Coated and laminated materials are difficult to recycle because of their hybrid nature: the coating layer is difficult to separate from the bulk material or the coating layer can be cured to prevent melting or dissolution in conventional solvents.

The current routes for end-of-life of “complex”-composite products are mainly focusing on burning or converting into RDF pellets (Refuse Driven Fuel). The energy content and presence of a fusible fraction (carrier and possibly also coating) explain why this waste disposal method is widely spread. Another commonly used route is mechanical reduction via shredders and subsequent use as filler material.

The project RECYCOAT aims to investigate various technologies to separate the different layers present in complex coated or laminated (multilayer) materials (in particular textiles and plastics). The focus is on developing a good design (eco-design) of the multi-layered products and/or altering the chemistry of the coating or adhesive layer. The material should be developed in such a way that maximum separation (i.e. recycling) is made possible: the different layers present in the complex material must be completely separable from each other.

An example of such a technology is an adapted adhesive layer of a carpet allowing separation in boiling water. After 30 seconds the secondary backing is split off.

This collective project, funded by Catalisti, started beginning of March and will run for two years. Companies are still welcome to join the user committee of the project. For more information, please contact us.

Ine De Vilder (textile) –

Isabel De Schrijver (plastic) –