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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLIPP PLUS (Manufacture and commercialization of high quality recycled polyolefin films using an innovative continuous extrusion recycling process assisted by sc-CO2 for printed plastic waste)
H2020

CLIPP PLUS Report Summary

Project ID: 673663

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLIPP PLUS (Manufacture and commercialization of high quality recycled polyolefin films using an innovative continuous extrusion recycling process assisted by sc-CO2 for printed plastic waste)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

CLIPP+ project aims to produce and commercialize new high quality environmentally friendly recycled PE films by means of an innovative extrusion CLIPP Recycling Technology (CRT) based on the use of supercritical carbon dioxide (sc-CO2) as a cleaning agent, promoting the reuse of post-industrial waste from printed films in non-food packaging applications such as packaging films for tissue, hygiene, wipes…
Every year at EU level around 200 kt of waste printed PE films are generated by converting industry (around 10% of the production). Mechanical recycling of this waste is challenging due to the presence of inks, which make this recycled materials only suitable for manufacturing low value products (rubbish bags, irrigation pipes and pots), when not diverted to energy recovery and landfill, which has a negative environmental and societal impact. CLIPP + aims to introduce into the market cost-competitive environmentally friendly recycled polyolefin films to be reused in non-food film packaging through an innovative technology based on the use of sc-CO2 technology to remove the contaminants and unpleasant smell associated to this type of printed recycled plastic packaging films.
SKYMARK (UK) is one of the leading independent manufacturers of flexible packaging solutions in Europe. The company has an excellent reputation in the converting industry for the quality of its products for packaging sector including films for fresh produce, flowers, labels, stationery, textile, tissue, food & drink, wipes, hygiene & medical and other industrial & technical goods. SKYMARK is a large film producer in UK with a production of around 15,000 t/y.
Packaging industry is under increasing legislative pressure such as Directive 2004/12/EC on packaging and packaging waste, which sets targets for recycling of packaging to recover plastic waste for mechanical recycling avoiding landfill. CLIPP+ project is fully aligned with this approach. Turning waste into a valuable resource is a goal SKYMARK is committed to achieve to improve resource efficiency transforming plastic waste in a profitable activity.
The objective of CLIPP+ project is to obtain a recycled PE compound for manufacturing high-quality odour-free SkyEco films with the same properties of films obtained from virgin resins. SKYMARK is confident customers are prepared to pay equal to virgin for recycled products because of greener image. The benefits expected for SKYMARK when selling the new SkyEco films are estimated in savings of 500 €/t of raw material. Based on the current annual production, the savings in virgin resins will result in a benefit for SKYMARK of more than 2,0 M€/y.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Main tasks carried out within this periodic report are related to WP2 Adaptation of recycling extrusion process. Different trials at pilot plant level has been carried out in order to optimise the processing parameters for the range of printed polyethylene (PE) films plastic waste to be processed by SKYMARK at industrial level. The existing extrusion recovery line at SKYMARK has been assessed with the aim of defining the modifications needed in order to adapt the machinery to implement and optimize CRT.
Carbon foot printing has been in continuous progress from the project beginning, and is focused on the assessment of the environmental benefits of recycled packaging using CLIPP+ technology when compared to equivalent packaging made of virgin commodity polymers. The carbon footprint is being assessed at the product level following the principles for life cycle assessment (LCA) established by ISO 14040 and 14044. During the reporting period, the activities fulfilled were related to the two first stages of carbon foot printing: (1) definition of goal and scope, including system description and definition of functional unit and system boundaries; and (2) life cycle inventory (LCI), including the development of a LCI datasheet template for the collection of LCI data (raw material and energy consumption and environmental releases) related to both CLIPP+ and conventional production processes. For those cases where no field data is available (e.g., data for end-of-life stage), data are being gathered from LCA databases and literature. Moreover, the software SimaPro® is being used to tackle the development of the study more effectively.
D4.4 Early economic study has been prepared in order to assess costs for implementing CRT at industrial level, market for recycling plastic waste and applications of high quality environmentally friendly recycled PE films.
Also within the scope of WP5 Investor-Ready Business Plan, Commercialisation and Communication SKYMARK has investigated the most suitable strategy to manage IPRs and reach agreements with third parties that have shown great interest in the possibilities of CLIPP Recycling Technology (CRT) for treating various plastic waste streams.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The current recycling options of the waste plastic fractions coming from packaging sector are limited due to technical feasibility and economics. This project aims to offer to the market high quality polyethylene (PE) films via recycling of printed post-industrial waste, transforming this waste into a profitable and competitive business offering recycled materials with optimal mechanical and aesthetic properties as substitutes of virgin or unprinted post-industrial polyolefin at a competitive price.
The proposed sc-CO2 assisted CLIPP Recycling Technology (CRT) to be implemented at industrial level, with the goal of open a new market for higher-added valued recycled plastic packaging, has already been developed and validated at pilot plant scale through the previous Research for SMEs Project CLIPP “Study of recyclability of printed or laminated plastic packaging films using supercritical CO2 technologies” (FP7-SME-2010-1 Grant Agreement 261977). The recycling technology proposed is based on the capacity of sc-CO2 to remove volatile contaminants (from inks), in combination with the use of micro-filters and forced degassing systems, all of them forming part of a single extrusion system.
SKYMARK, involved in previous CLIPP project, firmly considers that the use of developed CRT technology will contribute to increase the levels of innovation in SKYMARK and accelerate its full green growth potential achieving a sustainable supply of raw materials transforming the approximately 1,970 t/y of printed plastic waste generated internally (in 2013) into a valuable raw material for the extrusion of new films and with capacity to process up 4,000 t/y of post-industrial waste.
The innovative CLIPP+ recycling technology for printed films will have a significant impact on the plastic recovery industry. In Europe packaging sector remains the largest segment representing 39,4% of the overall plastic demand (45,9 Mt according the data provided by Plastics Europe). In packaging, more than 60% of the film produced are printed using organic inks. Printing or labelling on plastic packages is often essential to communicate important information to the purchaser or user of the product, to meet regulatory requirements and to stimulate sales.
On average, plastics represent 60% of the weight of all packages manufactured. Nowadays, the management of this plastic waste represents, in a great percentage, a cost to these companies due to the cost of its managing and disposal and the limited commercial possibilities of the products obtained from them.
Project´s main objective is to reduce the plastic waste generated through proposed environmental sustainable recycling systems. According to several studies, technologies based on reusing the waste for the original application, are the most sustainable approaches.
EU strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste is aimed to significantly reduce landfill promoting mechanical recycling since incineration for energy recovery is not a well-accepted waste management alternative in many EU countries due to hazardous emissions issues. Despite plastic materials show high energy content, mechanical recycling represent a more sustainable approach than energy recovery due to less impacts on abiotic resources depletion. The expected results of this project will therefore have an important impact throughout the EU for the plastic recycling industry and suppliers and end-users of plastic packaging sector.
Nowadays, the management of waste from printed PE films represents a problem to many companies due to their limited commercial possibilities (only suitable for low quality black coloured products). The use of the CRT-Recycling System proposed in CLIPP+ will increase the interest of plastic converters in this plastic waste, because the cleaned and recycled material will be of a higher quality. They will be able to integrate recycled material to packed products that require semi-transparent film, increasing their competitiveness (using a low cost material with properties similar to virgin resin) and improving their public image by promoting sustainable packages.
The current recycling options of the plastic fractions coming from these sectors are limited due to technical feasibility and economics. Organic inks, which are embedded in the plastic matrix after they have been reground and reprocessed, affect seriously the properties of recycled material. Some options to remove these contaminants ranging from the chemical to physic-mechanical procedures are therefore under discussion:
• Mechanical: particle blasting, mechanical abrasion, compression vibration, cryogenic grinding, dry crushing or roller pressing. However this technology could be suitable for rigid plastic parts, have many limitations to be used in flexible and thin films.
• Chemical stripping or chemical recovery: hydrolysis (high temperature and alkaline treatment), liquid cyclone and melt filtration.
Chemical stripping - involves the use of solvents or aggressive chemicals to remove the coatings on the polymer, normally based on alkaline cleaners and inorganic salts at high temperatures. This process has limited efficiency, it is expensive, leads to plastic degradation, high material and energy consume and it is environmentally unfriendly. Furthermore the use of the solvents cause environmental concerns and the economy of the process relies strongly on the virgin material price.
Melt filtration could be used to remove paint or metals from thermoplastic materials without the use of hazardous stripping chemicals. However, nowadays, it is only possible to use to remove partially using special extrusion equipment, mainly for recycling of packaging materials. However, the ink particles are difficult to get out using standard filters due to the high viscosity of the thermoplastic materials and the small particle size of these contaminants. VACUREMA® Technology are based in a patented combination of vacuum reactor and single-screw extruder for decontamination plastic waste. This technology is suited for recycling food grade PET from washed flakes and do not deal with printed material.
Alternative extrusion technologies that claim can deal with heavily printed films feature double or triple high vacuum degassing systems which require high maintenance costs, high energy consumption and have limited output rate, and none of them use the clear advantages of sc-CO2. To sum up, currently there are not commercially available sc-CO2 assisted recycling extrusion technologies for cleaning printed films.

Related information

Record Number: 193001 / Last updated on: 2016-12-13
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