On November 27, 2020, news provider Sustainable Plastics reported on the launch of two EU projects in-built Triggered Enzymes to Recycle Multi-layers: an Innovation for USes in packaging (Terminus) and The Bio Innovation of a Circular Economy for Plastics (BioICEP) by a research consortium of 28 research institutes and companies led by the Athlone Institute (Ireland) and Sigma Clermont (France), respectively.

The two four-year projects aim to deliver “full plastics circularity” and create multilayered plastic products that are “perpetually recyclable.”

Combining different layers of plastics is a common solution in food packaging to gain additive benefits of several materials in one application. This may improve, for example, gas-barrier properties, food safety, and ensure a longer shelf-life of food products. However, the separation and subsequent recycling of such multilayered materials are very challenging (FPF reported). The two four-year projects Terminus and BioICEP aim to convert multilayered plastic waste into its building block components that can be used again for the synthesis of new plastics (plastic-to-plastic recycling).

Each of the projects will try to solve a specific problem associated with multilayer recycling, both – upstream and downstream – of the plastic life cycle. The main goal of Terminus is to design and produce more easily separable and recyclable multilayered materials (e.g., coatings or laminates). One of its approaches consists of adding polymer degrading enzymes to the adhesives that hold the two polymer films together. The other project BioICEP is going to focus on the next step and continue with the recycling of the individual layers, breaking them down into their chemical building blocks by using mechanical and chemo-enzymatic processes. These building blocks, in turn, could be utilized again for the synthesis of new virgin polymer.

Horizon 2020, the Euro Framework Program for Research and Innovation, and the National Science Foundation of China, supported by Enterprise Ireland, will fund the projects with a total of 12 million euros.

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Karen Laird (November 27, 2020). “Two new projects launched to develop closed-loop recycling technology for multi-layered packaging.”