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CORDIS - Risultati della ricerca dell’UE

Circular Process for Eco-Designed Bulky Products and Internal Car Parts

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ECOBULK (Circular Process for Eco-Designed Bulky Products and Internal Car Parts)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2020-06-01 al 2021-11-30

Composite materials and products are a fast-growing part of the manufacturing industry. They are strong and light which helps to reduce weight and material consumption. They are also notoriously difficult to reuse or recycle as the loss of quality and value makes it economically unattractive.
ECOBULK demonstrated and implemented new Circular Economy models for bulky composite products in automotive, furniture and building industry sectors, with high potential of cross-sectoral replicability and transferability to other industrial sectors, promoting greater re-use, upgrade, refurbishment and recycling of the products.
ECOBULK implemented new economy models by developing:
• design strategies and procedures for the creation of circular designed composite products;
• redesigned value and supply chains to foster upgrade, reuse and recycling of products and material recovery for (re-)manufacturing;
• Services and business models for the new value chain including collection, maintenance, reuse, tracking and labelling systems and an integrated Database platform which allows sharing the value chain data between all the stakeholders including designers, manufacturers, retailers, waste companies and end-users; and,
• demonstration of the circular design solutions by a large demonstration program covering technological components at a relevant industrial scale as well as other not-technological but key components at representative demo sites engaging end-users.
The project takes an integral system approach that addresses different stages of the circular lifecycle, including the design, manufacturing, distribution/collection, business models, end-user & stakeholders’ communication, management and revalorisation of current waste streams, and provides solutions that fit well together and can complete the model for real-life applications.

A design methodology has been developed for ECOBULK with the active involvement of experts from all fields, where the product baseline is followed by a series of successive and iterative steps focused on aspects of product design and development leading to the creation of final design proposals. The framework and associated tools have been used for guiding the redesign activity of the demonstrators. Finally, the consideration of different business strategies around the CE has been added to the design process to turn the developed products and components in ECOBULK into attractive value propositions at all levels.

The new circular design products incorporate highly recyclable materials to support CE objectives and strategies. Among these innovative materials formulated and produced in ECOBULK, there is the recycled wind turbine blade Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymer, the first thermoplastic composite that incorporates recycled GFRP-waste as reinforcing material. Other developments include bio-based polymers natural fibre and recycled carbon fibre composites, nonwoven materials using natural fibres and wooden particle boards integrating new more sustainable (low or formaldehyde-free) binders.

Demo plans involved 6 EU countries, 9 different sites and 21 individual demonstrators all over Europe during the years 2019-2021 within the three product sectors: automotive, furniture and construction.

Regarding furniture, ECOBULK products are wood-based with innovative connectors, with nonwoven materials manufactured by airlay/compression as part of the products. The prototypes are modular furniture pieces used for student accommodation and meeting rooms in Coventry Univ and Warwick Univ, and meetings rooms in LIPOR and FCBA. Nonwoven materials have been tested as the upholstery on chairs in addition to being evaluated on a pilot sofa in FCBA facilities.
For construction, new ECOBULK GFRP-waste materials were used for structural outdoor furniture used in modular shelters in the UK Universities of Warwick, Cranfield and Coventry, a tree-bench shelter, a drinking fountain shelter and a bin shelter in Lipor's Adventure Park, and benches, an InfoCabin and 10 flagman shelters in KymiRing. GFRP-waste materials were also used as the replacement for wood in urban furniture in FCBA, and its possibilities as the replacement for wood in timber walls were also tested.
For the automotive sector, ECOBULK tried to increase the amount of recycled material in their components. Examples are the multilayer fascia console built by MAIER, the central panels developed by CRF and the circular prototype's components for central console cowlings, dashboard highlight panels and door insulations panels (nonwoven) designed and installed by MICROCAB.

The transition towards CE requires concerted actions and good communication between all value chain actors to facilitate the flow of products, parts and materials at various stages of the product life and usage cycles. This is maintained in ECOBULK by its CE platform (available at the aim of which is the implementation of specific intelligent services and modules enabling direct interaction between all value chain actors.
ECOBULK also considered solutions for the collection, sorting and pre-treatment of current heterogeneous Bulky and ELV waste streams for material recovering, integration and revalorization into ECOBULK’s CE model. Innovative waste sorting and characterisation technologies have been tested and validated by partners like TOMRA SORTING, BELLVER or LIPOR. In addition, the suitability of recovered materials for their integration and revalorisation into ECOBULK’s circular economy model was evaluated.
The project findings are completed by a set of studies that range from business models adapted to become more circular; to the complete study of the life cycle for the most promising prototypes using MFA & LCA/LCC analysis. Finally, two CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) were produced using the results and conclusions obtained from the project activities.
ECOBULK project contributed to a more efficient use of resources in the automotive, furniture and building components industries, in particular but not limited to the use of plastics, fibres and wood. By 2030, the ECOBULK project should allow to avoid approximately 75% of waste materials being landfilled and incinerated, save 200 million tonnes of GHG emission, and create 150,000 direct and indirect jobs compared to linear economy models in the aforementioned sectors.

ECOBULK consortium includes 9 industrial partners and 10 SMEs for which a robust exploitation approach is pursued, to identify potential opportunities, markets and impacts for the technologies and tools developed. The opportunities of ECOBULK have been demonstrated throughout the entire supply and value chain. ECOBULK also demonstrated the replicability of technologies, processes and outcomes for circular solutions, which will create business opportunities for other products and sectors, not directly linked with the three industrial lines targeted in the project.

To enhance the long-term impact of project results on bulky composite waste management in the EU, guide future policy developments, facilitate the transition to CE and increase the awareness on the project results to a broader base of stakeholders, a strong package of dissemination activities was carried out, ranging from on-line presence with website, newsletter and social networks, to participation and organisation in events and conferences, the development of training and webinars.
Automotive composite central panels
Modular furniture installed in Coventry
Outdoor furniture bench with Ecobulk's label
Outdoor furniture drinking fountain
Modular furniture in a meeting room
Outdoor furniture modular shelter
Automotive fascia console
Outdoor furniture flagman shelter