True Recycling Upscaling of Flexible Packaging in the Plastics Circular Economy

Key innovative players in the packaging value chain are joining forces in the TRUCE project to develop new building blocks for highly functional, flexible packaging solutions as well as a lean recyclability protocol. The innovations pursued within this project, with respect to end-of-life of plastic packaging, are yet another important step towards a truly circular economy.

In a nutshell
Goal of the TRUCE project is, first of all, to develop new building blocks for highly functional, flexible packaging solutions that can be combined into fully recyclable mono-polyethylene (≥95% PE) structures.

The combined expertise of packaging design from Amcor, polyethylene production, design and recycling activities from Borealis, specialty additives from Eastman, adhesives from Bostik, packaging line and food product requirements from Puratos and recyclability testing and predictive modelling from Ghent University will result in new innovative packaging designs and bring certainty to the recyclability at both small and larger scale.

The first application testing will be performed at Puratos and will result in a proof of concept for these new recyclable flexible packaging structures. Ghent University will perform the life cycle assessment (LCA) study of the innovative packaging designs. Finally, the consortium is completed by spearhead cluster Flanders’ FOOD, which actively supports the project.

Recyclability protocol
TRUCE also seeks to develop a robust and targeted recyclability protocol, which is both lean and representative for the targeted recycling stream. This will, on the one hand, allow the project partners to do fact-based analyses of the improved recyclability of the newly developed structures at state-of-the-art recycling facilities. On the other hand, the protocol could align and integrate with existing evaluation systems, to bring the best of both worlds to industrial application and accelerate the implementation of recycling-ready structures into the market.

By involving a wide range of industrial partners throughout the value chain, TRUCE enables the testing of the developed structures on dedicated packaging lines at industrial scale, taking a critical step towards product testing in an operational environment and assuring functionality of the packaging towards the shelf-life performance of the packaged good. Life cycle assessment will help quantify the environmental sustainability performance of the new innovative packaging designs (with the building blocks of highly functional flexible packaging solutions) in particular applications. All in all, the results to be obtained by this project will represent yet another important step towards a truly circular economy.

Project Details
Project type: COOP, intercluster with Flanders’ FOOD
Approved on: 18/12/2020
Duration: 1/01/2021 – 31/12/2022
Total budget: €2.236.912
Subsidy: €1.170.153
Project Partners


Recycling of Plastics and Titanium Dioxide via Advanced Dissolution and Separation Techniques for Plastic Additive Removal

The Remove2Reclaim project aims to develop innovative solvent-based extraction routes to remove additives, such as titanium dioxide, from different polymer matrices and to reuse both titanium dioxide and polymer in new products. This dissolution route will be a nice add-on to existing mechanical and chemical polymer recycling schemes.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Press Releases
Press release by project partner INEOS Styrolution – 21 October 2020

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 09/07/2020
Duration: 01/09/2020 – 31/08/2023
Total budget: €3.107.817
Subsidy: €1.898.644
Project Partners


Carbon Capture, Transport and Storage in the Chemical Cluster of the Port of Antwerp

ACCTS is a collaborative study in which the technical and financial feasibility of CO2 capture at six different chemical sites in the Port of Antwerp is investigated, as well as different scenarios for the local transport of the captured CO2. The results of the study will contribute to the general goal of the Antwerp@C consortium to start the development of infrastructure for carbon capture, utilisation and storage in the chemical cluster of the Port of Antwerp.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: Feasibility Study
Duration: 1/12/2019 – 30/11/2020
Total budget: €499.004
Subsidy: €249.503
Project Partners


Controlled Release, Uptake and Enhanced (Bio-)Availability of Active Ingredients in Ruminant Feed and Fertilizers by Encapsulation

The Encaps2Control project sets out to develop a new and sustainable encapsulation technology for the controlled release of active ingredients in animal feed and organic fertilizers. This technology is based on biopolymers from renewable resources.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 12/12/2019
Duration: 31/12/2019 – 30/12/2022
Total budget: €3.698.711
Subsidy: €2.539.348
Project Partners


Plastics to Precious Chemicals

The P2PC project aspires to cope with the urgent issue of plastics waste management. The project targets the challenge of increasing plastic waste volumes and diversity on the one hand, as well as the establishment of circular material schemes instead of value destruction. The most important premise of P2PC is that by pyrolysis, plastic waste that is currently being burned or landfilled can be a source of diverse chemical building blocks, the so-called “precious chemicals”. Its target, in other words, is to turn plastic waste into value. This way, P2PC can be considered as the next step in Flanders’ efforts to lead the global effort in tackling the challenge of waste plastics.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 04/04/2019
Duration: 1/05/2019 – 30/04/2022
Total budget: €3.092.101
Subsidy: €2.182.652
Project Partners


Plastic Waste To Chemicals

The WATCH project seeks to improve chemical understanding of plastic waste conversion for the production of key chemicals such as short olefins, waxes, aromatics, styrene and diols. In this project, the aim is to develop, demonstrate and compare three technologies for the conversion of plastic waste to liquid energy carriers and chemicals via (catalytic) pyrolysis.

Project Details
Project type: SBO
Approved on: 04/04/2019
Duration: 31/08/2019 – 30/08/2023
Total project budget: €2.636.440
Subsidy: €2.636.440
Naar een doorgedreven chemische recyclage van plastic – VITO Vision – January 2021

Project Partners


PVC Fibreglass Sidestream Valorisation and Development of Circular Products

The PVCircular project will set up a cross-sector symbiotic relationship between companies with different end applications to add value to currently unused fibreglass/PVC waste streams by recycling internally and externally. In this way, all the companies will strive towards a more circular business model.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: O&O
Approved on: 13/12/2018
Duration: 1/01/2019 – 31/12/2020
Total budget: €1.597.524
Subsidy: €638.857
Project Partners


Mechanical and Thermochemical Recycling of Mixed Plastic Waste

The MATTER project aims to evaluate the recycling of mixed (post-consumer) plastic waste streams and to use the generated data to develop a decision supporting framework. Technical and market-based criteria will be developed to support an optimal plastic waste management system. More specifically, the project will focus on the P+ fraction (all plastics packaging waste) of the extended P+MD collection and recycling scheme. Partners from across the whole value chain are included in the project consortium: separation and pretreatment (Indaver and Bulk.ID), mechanical recycling (Borealis and ECO-oh!) and thermochemical recycling (Indaver and Borealis). Organizations such Fost+, Plarebel and OVAM will be closely involved in the project execution. Sustainability analyses will enable the development of a decision-supporting framework.

By generating general knowledge on the recycling of mixed plastic waste and specific knowledge on the optimization of the P+MD recycling scheme, the valorization of the project is twofold. On short-term, the collection of an extra 50.000-150.000 tons of mixed plastic waste is expected for the P+MD scheme, most of which are packaging materials for which not always alternatives to incineration are available today. The results of the MATTER project will therefore be essential for the development of sustainable recycling solutions for this significant amount of waste. In the longer run, the general recycling knowledge can result in extra activities on the processing of other plastic waste fractions.

Project Results

On 25 November 2020, Ghent University hosted a webinar to present the final results and conclusions of the two Catalisti-ICON projects MATTER & PROFIT. The webinar presented some techno-scientific insights in valorising plastics from comingled waste, chemical vs. mechanical recycling and what the new P+MD bag will mean for Belgium. The main conclusions and their implications for plastic recycling were discussed during a panel conversation moderated by Kim Ragaert (Ghent University), with panelists Erik Moerman (Indaver), Nico Kimpe (Vanheede), Jan Van Havenbergh (Catalisti), Steven De Meester and Philippe Gendebien (Fost Plus). The information about MATTER starts at 25:01.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 18/04/2018
Duration: 30/04/2018 – 30/10/2020
Total budget: €1.669.761
Subsidy: €1.187.783
Project Partners

Development and application of a predictive modelling approach for household packaging waste flows in sorting facilities by Kerstin Kleinhans, Michelle Hallemans, SophieHuysveld, Gwenny Thomassen, KimRagaert, Kevin Van Geem, Martijn Roosen, Nicolas Mys, Jo Dewulf, Steven De Meester
Waste Management, Volume 120, 1 February 2021, Pages 290-302 – DOI 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.11.056

A recycler’s perspective on the implications of REACH and food contact material (FCM) regulations for the mechanical recycling of FCM plastics by Ellen De Tandt, Cody Demuytere, Elke Van Asbroeck, Hiram Moerman, Nicolas Mys, Gianni Vyncke, Laurens Delva, An Vermeulen, Peter Ragaert, Steven De Meester, Kim Ragaert
Waste Management, Volume 119, 1 January 2021, Pages 315-329 – DOI: 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.10.012

Detailed Analysis of the Composition of Selected Plastic Packaging Waste Products and Its Implications for Mechanical and Thermochemical Recycling by Martijn Roosen, Nicolas Mys, Marvin Kusenberg, Pieter Billen, Ann Dumoulin, Jo Dewulf, Kevin M. Van Geem, Kim Ragaert, and Steven De Meester
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020 – DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03371

Microstructural Contributions of Different Polyolefins to the Deformation Mechanisms of Their Binary Blends by Astrid Van Belle, Ruben Demets, Nicolas Mys, Karen Van Kets, Jo Dewulf, Kevin Van Geem, Steven De Meester, and Kim Ragaert
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1171 – DOI: 10.3390/polym12051171


Recycling of Coated Materials

In a 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 one-component materials. 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 RECYCOAT project 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.

Project Details
Project type: VIS
Approved on: 04/12/2017
Duration: 31/01/2018 – 29/02/2020
Total budget: €422.311
Subsidy: €337.849
Project Partners


All Renewable CCU Based on Formic Acid Integrated in an Industrial Microgrid

The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies contains a binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions in EU territory by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and has the ambition to further reduce them by 80-95% by 2050. As theoretical limits of efficiency are being reached and process-related emissions are unavoidable in some sectors, there is an urgent need to develop efficient carbon capture and utilisation systems. In the past, most research has focused on the capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), also referred to as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). CCS is a technology directed to CO2 abatement and removes carbon from the economy. In addition to CCS, CO2 can also be transformed into valuable added products. This is known as carbon capture and utilization (CCU). Since the use of CO2 as a carbon feedstock has the potential to create attractive business cases for production of chemicals, more and more novel CCU technologies are being reported and the range of CO2-derived products is expanding. However, these emerging technologies all have different technology readiness levels (TRL) and a comparison for different technologies is missing.

The main objective of the project is the development of technologies for the conversion of CO2 to value-added chemicals using catalysis and renewable energy. To benchmark, compare and develop the various technologies, the formation of formic acid was selected as the initial target. Formic acid is the first product of the hydrogenation of CO2 towards value-added chemicals. In the project, the development of 4 catalytic routes (homogenous & heterogeneous catalysis, photochemical plasma-catalysis, electrochemical catalysis and bio-catalysis) is planned, enabling the sustainable synthesis of formic acid and more complex value-added chemicals (Single Cell Proteins, etc.). Sustainability is the common denominator of the different routes investigated in the project as they will enable the creation of a circular economy using (i) abundant reagents: CO2, H2O and electricity produced by surplus of renewable energies production through electrolysis and (ii) sustainable catalysts: earth-abundant metals will be used in homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, in photochemical and electro-catalytic syntheses, and set-ups will fully exploit renewable electricity. Finally, the potential of enzymatic catalysts (microbes and bacteria) will be exploited to use nitrogen from waste water sources to produce organic molecules of added value and microbial proteins for feed/food applications. At the end of the project, the partners want to be able to select the best technology  (CO2 source, purity and intended product, availability of excess electricity) for the conversion of CO2. A decision support framework will be developed to support this decision process. Via a techno-economic analysis, the different catalytic routes towards formic acid will be benchmarked against each other and against the classical process via base-catalyzed carbonylation of methanol.

The second objective is the valorization of formic acid. On the one hand, formic acid will be used as a building block for the bio-catalytic production of value-added chemicals such as Single Cell Proteins. On the other hand, formic acid is considered as a H2 carrier to propose a circular economy with CO2 and H2/electricity generated from renewable sources (POWER to CHEMICALS): when renewable sources (solar, wind, …) produce energy surplus, this energy can be converted in H2 (through electrolysis) that is chemically converted with CO2 into formic acid. When utilizing the H2 upon conversion of formic acid, CO2 is released and can be used recycled/reused with a new supply of H2 for the formation of formic acid generating a true circular approach.

Advisory Board
This project has the ambition to strengthen the position of Flanders in terms of research into CO2-based processes and materials. The relevance of this cluster SBO project is further emphasized by an industrial advisory board (pictured below), who are eager to implement the results and create economic valorisation. Current members of the advisory board include: 3M, Alco Biofuel, Arcelor Mittal, Avecom, Borealis, Cargill, Eastman, ENGIE Laborelec, Hydrogenics, INEOS, Messer, Monsanto, Nutrition Sciences and Smart Bioprocess.

Project Details
Project type: cSBO
Approved on: 14/12/2017
Duration: 01/03/2018 – 01/03/2022
Total budget: €2.612.101
Subsidy: €2.612.101
Project Partners