Towards a circular economy in which multilayer plastic films never go to waste

CIMPA seeks to develop the first multilayer plastic films recycling value chain. CIMPA proposes innovative solutions including a circularity strategy for new packaging designs, the development of new technologies for sorting different films, together with mechanical and physical (dissolution) recycling processes. Furthermore, decontamination and upgrading processes are required to produce a quality material from waste which will be suitable to close the loop.

Through this three-year-long project, 13 partners from five countries, covering the whole value chain of the sorting, separation, recycling and manufacturing of multilayer materials, will work together to find innovative solutions that will turn this waste stream into a fully circular model. 

Why multilayers?

Around 20% of the worldwide film production for food applications are multilayer films. Multilayer plastic films are used as packaging for the protection of food (2Mt/year) and agriculture for crops (0.6Mt/year). The attractiveness of plastic multilayer films lies in their unique barrier properties enabling significant extension of food preservation and crop protections. Their high barrier performance makes the identification of sustainable substitute material very challenging: potential substitutions by mono-material do not represent economic and technical viable solutions, meanwhile demands for food and agriculture packaging grows.

Multilayers are traditionally composed of multiple high-performance layers: polyolefins (PE and PP, 55% of multilayers streams), PET, PVDC, PA or EVOH but also aluminum or cardboard, together exhibiting rigidity and strength, oxygen and water barrier, UV protection, puncturing resistance, sealability, printability.

In line with the EU environment policy

The CIMPA project is in line with the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan and other EU strategies, since the project results will have an impact on them. 

  •  Contribution to EU Plastic Strategy through improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling  and curbing plastic waste and littering.
  • EU Circular Economy package objectives, with a target to recycle 75% of packaging waste by 2030. It also plans the use of economic incentives for producers to produce greener products and support recovery and recycling schemes.
  •  Synergy with Circular Plastic Alliance (CPA): CPA has set out to recycle 10Mts of plastics in EU by 2025: VTT, TNO, AIM, EUR are signatories of the CPA pledge and through ECP4 who is another signatory pledge, IPC is active contributors to the packaging working group.
  • Alignment with EU Green Deal policy package (Area 3: Industry for a clean circular economy and Area 8.1 curbing micro-plastics impact in the environment

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N°101003864. 

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