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The transition of MultilAyer/multipolymer packagiNg into more sustainable multilayer/single polymer products for the fooD and phArma sectors through the deveLopment of innovative functional Adhesives

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MANDALA (The transition of MultilAyer/multipolymer packagiNg into more sustainable multilayer/single polymer products for the fooD and phArma sectors through the deveLopment of innovative functional Adhesives)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2021-11-30

The world recycles only 14% of the plastic packaging it uses and 72% is not recovered at all: 40% is landfilled and 32% leaks out of the collection system. Today 95% of the value of plastic packaging material is lost after a short, single-use cycle.

The MANDALA project presents a sustainable solution for the plastic packaging sector which tackles 3 pillars: eco-design, dual functionality & end-of-life; with the aim to find, in the mid-term, a final solution based on multilayer monomaterial film packaging with functionalities compared to multimaterial film and fully produced with biobased & recycled polymers in order to reach a full circularity of resources. Also, another objective is the validation of industrial products based on the use of MANDALA prototypes production with optimum performance/cost ratio for the food (meat and ready-to-eat meals) and pharma (blisters for pills and pharma trays coverings) sectors.

MANDALA project aims to find a solution that decreases the end-of-life costs and CO2 emissions in more than a 30%.

The social acceptance of MANDALA products is a drawing force for the development and the study on new “bio”- and recycled materials. It includes interaction with consumer association (such as OCU) and consumer platforms (MUNDO-SABOR. Which is the internal platform that our partner CTIC-CITA owns and uses for validation with food consumers), food and pharmacompanies and clusters (FOOD+I, COMETICS) or EFSA members.

Increasing the recycling of plastics will have a positive effect on EU employment. It is estimated that approximately 65,400 new jobs could be created directly in the plastics packaging recycling value chain by 2025, with over 50,000 additional indirect jobs supporting the sector and its operations. MANDALA project will directly contribute to create employment in EU in this new circular after-use plastics economy. Only during the first three years of exploitation, 20 new direct jobs have been estimated that will be created and the creation of more than 1800 indirect jobs from direct partner supply chain.
Regarding the development of functional adhesives, CSIC-ICTP has finished the chemical modification of adhesives with thermoreversible Diels-Alder (DA) moieties. The results indicate that the initial covalent bond can efficiently be recovered. Also, several experimental conditions were researched to incorporate carbon-based nanoparticles into the new SOLVENT-FREE adhesive. The barrier properties to water of the solvent-based adhesives containing thermoreversible bonds and graphene nanoparticles were measured by NORNER.
9 different lamination structures (8 including nanoclays) were produced by AITIIP for characterization, lamination, first end-user validations and for LCA studies. NORNER has characterised the OTR, WVTR, CO2TR, optical and mechanical properties of all the different films, as well as the laminates with commercial adhesive and with DA adduct. The lamination has been carried out by hand by Gaviplas.
The first draft of the delamination experimental design was carried out by CADEL. It could be proved that the DAF adhesive generally has better delamination results that conventional adhesive. BIO-MI has started pilot film production with the materials selected for the 9 structures mentioned before un order to understand the materials, fine-tune the machines and give advice on the upscaling of the structures to select. ARCHA has developed the LCA and LCC questionnaires as well as continuing with biodegradation and disintegration tests. The Key Exploitable Results are defined, and more details have been provided (D4.1 updated). Two important technical advances have been defined: 1) Confirmation of the thermoreversible properties due to the so-called Diels-Alder Adduct (DAF) and their improvement through the addition of graphene; 2) The definition of how to use the PU adhesive in the lamination of two-components to bring the principles of lamination and subsequent delamination that are the basis of the MANDALA project into the Flexible Packaging. A patent has been filed.
Communication and Dissemination activities have been carried out since the beginning of the project. The project has been presented in 16 divulgation events (technical and non-technical events) and 183 publications have been disseminated in the social in the media.
The main ambition of MANDALA project is to advance beyond the state-of-the-art (SoA) in the development of a new reversible PUR adhesive applied for the first time as bonding/debonding system to produce separable and functional multilayer packaging and demonstrate its functionality under different product prototypes for the food and pharma sectors. To obtain the prototypes MANDALA partners need to transform this research into an innovation by up-scaling the delamination and washing concept into a pilot semi-industrial line and validate full separation and recovery of the polymer layers and the adhesive components to be either recycled (preferable on major case of study) or biodegraded (for certain case study). Finally the project aims at assessing guidelines for the eco-design of multilayer materials that are recyclable or biodegradable.
Expected impact:

- KPI8 ‘TRL gain’ will be achieved when up-scaling and running the new delamination module (WP2). It is expected that this technology will pass from TRL3 to TRL5 within MANDALA project.
- KPI2: contribute to the creation of at least one value chain: MANDALA contributes to create 1 new value chain: “The Circular VC”, by introducing novelties in 3 current value chains: Chemicals VC + Packaging VC + Waste Management VC.
- 30% decrease in End-of-life costs: due to the implementation of delamination step in the recycling process being highly competitive in the market (250€/tonne 33% cheaper than benchmarks) and due to the introduction of recycled polymers into the economy 54% saving.
- 30% decrease in environmental footprint is expected to be achieved thanks to the increase in recycling: not only mechanically for other sectors but chemically (87% saving), and the delamination step will allow to remove inks located between layers and that cannot be reached and recycled in other way (35%
- KPI1 (fostering interactions among sectors in a value chain where they had not collaborated before):From 5 defined categories or clusters, new 3 interconnections have been created among Recycling sector and End-users (food and pharma), plastic sector, and biodegradable & compostable sector.
- KPI6: MANDALA “Set the basis for” 2 new consumer products: films for meat and ready to eat food & pill blisters.
- Contribute to socio-economic impacts: 20 direct jobs & 1800 Indirect jobs
Conventional Flexible Packaging
MANDALA Project Overview