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"Waste4Future": Keeping plastics in the loop

Seven Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft institutions are pooling their expertise in the "Waste4Future" project.


The project aims to develop new solutions for plastics recycling that in particular increase the energy and resource efficiency of the use of plastics for a chemical industry that requires fewer fossil raw materials and produces fewer emissions. The project participants see the carbon contained in plastics as an important resource for the chemical industry. In order to keep the carbon in the cycle, they say, it must be better identified in waste, better recycled and used again to produce high-quality starting materials for industry. The result of the project, which will run until the end of 2023, is to be innovative recycling technologies for complex wastes that can be used to obtain high-quality recyclates. According to the IMWS, the specific plan is to develop an evaluation model that reorganizes the process-led recycling chain into a material-led chain. Optimized sorting should make it possible to identify which materials and which plastic fractions are contained in the waste. Based on this, the total flow is to be separated and a targeted decision is then to be made for the partial flows as to which recycling route is the most technically, ecologically and economically sensible for this specific waste quantity. What cannot be further utilized by means of mechanical recycling is to be made available for chemical recycling and the thermal utilization of waste containing plastics at the end of the chain is to be eliminated. As further goals of the project, the IMWS states to create an automated formulation development for recyclates from different material streams. New recycling process chains are also to be subjected to an economic evaluation, for example with regard to the costs of CO2 certificates or new regulatory requirements. The project consortium also announces that it will conduct comprehensive life cycle analysis (LCA) studies for the individual recycling technologies to identify potential environmental risks and opportunities.



  •, (5.5.2021)
  • Photo: © Fraunhofer IMWS

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