CORDIS - EU research results

Upcycling plastic wastes: biopolymers for a circular economy

Project description

Recyclability of single-use plastic personal protection equipment

The COVID-19 pandemic has created more plastic waste due to the increased use of disposable personal protection equipment like masks, gloves, and single-use plastics. In this context, the EU-funded BIOP project will focus on single-use polyethylene and polypropylene that can be upcycled into lighter value-added molecules. In turn, these can be used as building blocks to synthetise new biobased polymeric units in combination with specific biomass-derived platform chemicals. Paving the way towards a circular economy, the project will result in the valorisation of plastic and biomass wastes to produce biopolymers.


BIOP aims to address one of the most critical environmental issues derived from human activities, plastic wastes. Far from having a suitable alternative to palliate their impact and promote their recyclability, the emerged pandemic alarm associated to the fast coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading worsens detrimentally the scenario. Disposable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) used by healthcare professionals produces vast quantities of plastic waste, being worthwhile to develop biodegradable PPE for the future, which would allow alternative ways to process this waste. In addition, it is reasonably urgent to propose an efficient alternative to handle the giant amount of non-biodegradable plastics already generated (mainly protective suits, boot covers and single-use gloves). The project focuses mostly on single-use polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) recycling into lighter value-added molecules (upcycling) that can be used as building blocks to synthetize new biobased polymeric units, in combination with specific biomass-derived platform chemicals such as 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). Hence, going through the plastics to bioplastics concept, the project’s guiding light is the joint valorization of plastic and biomass wastes to finally produce BIOPolymers, approach that add value to both wastes thus paving the way towards a circular economy. With this purpose, the project’s specific challenges concerns 1) PE/PP conversion to lower molecular weight alkenes through the development of specific processes and highly selective catalysts, 2) 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF, biomass platform molecule) transformation to FDCA over the new designed and optimized catalysts and 3) joint conversion of alkenes (derived from plastics) and HMF (one-pot oxidation) thus allowing cost savings and technologies coupling.


Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
41004 Sevilla

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Sur Andalucía Sevilla
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 160 932,48