According to Plastics Europe 9.6 million tones of post-consumer plastic waste was disposed in European landfills in 2012. This number accounts for 38.1% of the total post-consumer plastic waste generated. Depositing plastic in landfills is a very inefficient use of resources. Though the trend in recent years has been for less landfilled plastics further action is needed to reach the EU target of eliminating plastic waste sent to landfill by 2020. Recycling reduces the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill, reduces the need for non-renewable raw materials namely petroleum and saves on energy so they represent an ecologically and economically efficient recovery route. However, conventional recycling is not possible for all types of plastic waste, such as waste containing mixed plastics, or contaminated or severely degraded plastics. There are other technologies that can potentially valorize this non-recyclable plastic waste (NRPW), such as gasification or pyrolysis for chemicals and energy production, but they may still pose environmental problems.
LIFE ECOMETHYLAL will test the valorization of NRPW that is currently landfilled – especially heterogeneous plastic waste – using Catalytic Hydro-Gasification with Plasma (CHGP), a more environmentally friendly technology than the ones currently used. The project will recycle NRPW from the automotive, electric-electronic and packaging sectors to produce a valuable chemical agent called methylal. The market for methylal is estimated to be worth about €5.2 billion/year. It is used in various industries due to its low toxicity, low viscosity and especially its high solvent power making it a sustainable alternative to petrol-based solvents. Therefore, the project addresses two major problems: the recovery of "difficult" plastic waste and the dependency on fossil fuel-derived materials. The proposed technology, which has not previously been used for treating NRPW, will be demonstrated at a pilot plant installed in the facilities of the associated beneficiary ACTECO in Spain. The plant will operate continuously, increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Another one will be built in Mi-plast, in Croatia, to test its replicability potential, which should be high due to plant’s compact and modular configuration. The methylal produced will be marketed as an eco-material in various sectors (e.g. plastics, chemicals and automotive). LIFE ECOMETHYLAL will contribute to the implementation of the Roadmap for a Resource-Efficient Europe, the Action Plan for the Circular Economy and the European directives: Packaging and Packaging Waste; Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment; End-of-Life Vehicles; Waste Framework; and Landfill of Waste.
The project will last from 1st of September 2016 to 31th of August 2019. Total cost of the project is 2,039,142.00 € with EU contribution of 1,031,678.00 €.