Plastics have become an integral part of our everyday lives and are a major source of waste in our society. However, only 20% of the world's total plastic production is recycled today.
Mechanical recycling is often limited in the case of damaged or contaminated plastics, as well as mixed waste. Since landfilling or incinerating plastic waste can cause significant environmental damage, innovative approaches beyond mechanical recycling need to be developed to significantly increase the amount of plastics recycled into new raw materials.
This is where the PLASTICE project comes in: The four-year project is looking at chemical recycling instead of mechanical recycling. Chemical recycling converts the chemical structure of plastic waste into shorter molecules that can be used as a starting point for new chemical reactions, such as polymerisation, or as a component of other chemical processes.
Specifically, PLASTICE will develop three valorisation routes, which will be demonstrated at three sites. These three valorisation routes cover different types of post-consumer waste and provide sustainable feedstock for the production of new plastics and other high-value products of industrial interest.
The valorisation routes are:
- Thermochemical processing (microwave assisted pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction) of polyolefins (PE, PP and PS) to obtain high quality synthetic oils, which are further upgraded to a suitable feedstock for the production of olefins
- Gasification of solid recovered fuels (SRF) to synthesis gas, combined with chemical conversion using the ZEB process to produce dimethyl ether (DME) and olefins
- Enzymatic degradation processes of recycled textiles (cotton, PET and other waste textile mixtures) to obtain MEG, PET and PTA
The PLASTICE project is funded by the European Union (EU) with a budget of almost 20 million euros. TCKT is leading the work package on enzymatic degradation of recycled textiles in this ambitious project. More information can be found at https://plastice.eu/.