The global economy needs an immediate shift towards a circular economy model for plastic waste. It requires a systematic transformation that involves all actors in the value chain and encompasses the entire lifecycle of plastic materials.
Although there are individual efforts to improve the collection and recycling of plastics in electronic waste (e-waste) the plastics value chain is still too fragmented, and recycled plastics are still perceived as unattractive to the end-user. For reference, the European Commission estimates e-waste to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, expected to grow to more than 12 million tonnes by 2020.
PolyCE (or Post-Consumer High-tech Recycled Polymers for a Circular Economy), a European Commission funded project consisting of a consortium of 20 expert organisations, has taken on the challenge of addressing this problem during the next four years.
Through significantly reducing the use of virgin plastics and enhancing the use of recycled plastics in new electronics applications, PolyCE will:
Redesign recycling and recovery to produce environmentally sustainable and high-quality PCR plastics...
Strengthen the effective secondary market for post-consumer plastics by an online marketplace...
Circular economy solutions for the environmentally sustainable reuse of PCR plastics - large scale demonstration prototypes...
Work Package 1
Circular models of production and consumption for high resource efficiency
The main goal of WP1 is to identify, assess and test business models towards circular economy and their impacts along the whole value chain. The specific objectives are:
Work Package 2
Strategic Convergence and collaboration of all actors across the Plastics value chain
The main goal of WP2 is to initiate and organize the necessary networking of the project. The specific objective are to:
Identify and involve committed stakeholders to support the project as basis for all other Work Pack-ages.
Work Package 3
Improve after use management of WEEE post-consumer plastics
The main goal of WP3 is to establish the most effective methods of reverse logistics and supply chain management for increasing the return rate of plastics and improving the recycling of post-consumer plas-tic. The specific objectives are
Work Package 4
Redesign recycling and recovery to produce environmentally sustainable and high-quality PCR plastics
The main goal of WP4 is to elaborate harmonized, coherent and comprehensive set of technical re-quirements addressing the entire WEEE plastics value chain. The specific objectives are:
Develop a PCR plastics grade system according to quality standards and specifications for PCR plastics. Currently, as there are no standard quality criteria classifying PCR plastics, the required ma-terial performances are agreed on a case by case basis between the re-processor and end user. Therefore, uniform grade system for PCR plastics has to be developed, classifying the recyclates ac-cording to their material properties and final application, to improve the industrial cooperation among all actors of the value chain and increase the use of PCR in Europe
Work Package 5
Create eco-innovative and sustainable polymer compounds for the electronics industry
The main goal of WP5 is to develop sustainable materials and additives for the demonstrators in WP7, i.e. to develop plastic compounds, which take into account multiple reuse and recycling lifecycles. Spe-cific objectives of WP5 are:
Work Package 6
Strengthen the effective secondary market for post-consumer plastics by an online marketplace
The main goal of WP6 is to extend an existing online market platform on plastics providing information and specifications on pricing, material flows and material-supply reliability for and with the input of all actors across the value chain. By this, an infrastructure on information and resource trading will be es-tablished. The specific objectives are to:
Carry out a validation trial of the platform including front-end visualisation and back-end server struc-ture for different platform users. Iteratively improve the platform towards more practicability, useful-ness and therefore more recycling efficiency.
Work Package 7
Circular economy solutions for the environmentally sustainable reuse of PCR plastics - large scale demonstration prototypes
The main goal of WP7 is to bring together the knowledge gained from previous work packages into mul-tiple large-scale demonstrators for the effective re-use of PCR plastics from WEEE. This will result in several individual products being developed with these materials. For each of these tasks, a close coop-eration is planned between companies of different EEE sectors and academic partners. This will allow performing multiple series of initial production tests at the laboratories of the academic partners to obtain a better understanding of the possible reasons of failure and the allowed tolerances and to subsequently perform large scale tests at the facilities of the industrial partners. Polymer processing and the fine-tuning thereof is an inherent part of each demonstrator development and is not considered separately.
Additionally, it will be investigated in how far these PCR plastics can be implemented in the emerging technology of 3D printing.
This WP will start reasonably early so that for every demonstrator it can be decided what polymer will be used to manufacture the product from and what technical requirements this polymer should have. This is important input for the compounding in task 5.4. While the recycled compounds are developed in WP5, activities on this WP will be dormant or limited to the product design process. Once the polymers from WP5 are available, this WP will be fully launched. So we have a peak moment in M6 to M12, a semi-active period then until M24, where only task 7.1 is running and finally full progress from M24 until M42 on.
Work Package 8
Support for Life Cycle Thinking and Environmental Assessment
The main objective of this work package is to support the achievement of the environmental and re-source efficiency goals set out in the description of the target impacts (section 2.1.1). The technologies and demonstrators developed in the previous WPs will be supported towards environmental and eco-nomic sustainability as described in the specific objectives:
Work Package 9
Impact and scale up: consumer engagement, dissemination, exploitation and policy measures
The main goal of WP 9 is to raise general awareness of project works ensuring multiplication and scale up of potential project results and thus increase the added value and impact of the project through (i) consumer engagement, (ii) dissemination and exploitation, (iii) policy measures. The specific objectives of WP 9 are: