Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

High quality plastic recyclation products for reuse

Recyclation essentially means using waste material to make new products rather than throwing it away. Although plastics recyclation has become very common and something most people take for granted, the process is not as easy as it sounds given the need to obtain relatively pure raw materials from the amalgam of finished product components.
High quality plastic recyclation products for reuse
Currently, the world recycles approximately 1.5 tonnes of plastics annually, with 75 % of that being polyethylene that consists of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE).

Recyclation of plastic films is among the most difficult types of recyclation because the polyolefins (LDPE, HDPE and polypropylene (PP)) making up 95 % of the total film are difficult to separate from one another using standard procedures.

The ‘Primary recycling of polyolefin-mixed films for high-added value applications in the blow moulding industry’ (Recfinmix) project was designed to advance the LDPE recycling objectives of a consortium consisting of five small and medium enterprises and three research organisations from five EU countries. Specifically, the team set out to develop separation and recyclation techniques and equipment for extraction of LDPE suitable for reuse in blow moulding as, for example, is used to produce plastic bottles.

The Recfinmix project researchers successfully developed technology and equipment enabling separation of mixed polyolefin film waste. They were able to produce a high added value LDPE stream with less than 5 % HDPE and PP impurities suitable for blow moulding, as well as a second stream with less than 20 % impurities suitable for injection moulding.

The Recfinmix project thus resulted in significant advances to a particularly weak point in the widely applicable field of plastics recyclation. Commercialisation of the results has the potential to greatly enhance European competitiveness in a huge and important global market.

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