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Innovative designs to enable plastic packaging circular economy

Project description

Introducing biobased polymers in circular economy loops

Fancy a swim in… plastic? Scientists warn our oceans will contain more plastics than fish (by weight) by 2050 when the production of plastic packaging will exceed 250 million metric tonnes. Currently around 26 billion tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year in Europe alone. Worse still is that more than 70 % of this waste is not recycled. Most of the disposed plastics cannot be recycled and are not degradable. The EU-funded NATURE project is working on an innovative research training programme, which will be at the starting lines of the circular economy. For instance, it will boost knowledge about the synthesis of new biobased polymeric materials where the polymers are designed based on their performance and their recyclability.


Plastics are the material of choice in packaging applications because of their low cost, high performance and ready processability. Such is their success that it is expected that by 2050 the production of plastic packaging will exceed 250 million metric tons. Considering most plastics that are employed in the packaging industry are used for less than a week, the lack of environmental degradability has led to a tremendous growth of disposed plastics. This growth, together with the fact that the vast majority of synthetic plastics are designed for performance and durability and not for degradability and recyclability, has brought tons of plastic accumulation in the oceans and landfills - ~56 million tons per year. The problem has been highlighted by the acclaimed prediction that by 2050, the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish (by weight). Although it was envisioned that biodegradable polymers based on ester linkages such as poly(lactide) (PLA) or poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) could be part of the solution because they are mainly derived from biorenewable sources (e.g. starch and cellulose) and can be enzymatically or hydrolytically degraded leading to an environmentally closed circular ecosystem, the low permeability in the case of PLLA and the poor mechanical properties in the case of PHB has limited their potential. NATURE-EID proposes an innovative research training program at the forefront of circular economy of biobased polyesters. In particular, the project will develop fundamental knowledge in the synthesis of new biobased polymeric materials where the polymers are not only design based on their performance but also on their recyclability.


Net EU contribution
€ 495 222,12
Avenida tolosa 72
20018 San sebastian

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Noreste País Vasco Gipuzkoa
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (2)