PolyCE Newsletter – May 2021
Reaching the end of 4 years of research and innovation
2020 revealed to be a challenging and unprecedented year for the entire world. While our ways of living and working have certainly been turned upside down, we haven’t lowered our expectations and intentions for a greater environment. With ten years remaining until the deadline to fulfill the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, there are burning issues that must be addressed with urgent, strategic and decisive action. From climate change, to air pollution, biodiversity loss, rising economic inequalities and migration, to the growing shadow of plastic and electronic waste and related pollution.
Building on the momentum generated by the ambitious European Green Deal proposal delivered by the European Commission at the end of 2019, the project has pursued its activities contributing to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy. Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, partners have continued their efforts to research, test, and develop innovative solutions to enhance the use of recycled plastics in new electronics applications.
The PolyCE project is now coming to an end, but it will leave behind a set of know-how and lessons learnt, and practical outcomes and results, which should inspire and serve as basis knowledge for future research and projects.
- Adapting to the unprecedented worldwide pandemic situation, PolyCE partners have led numerous online expert workshops and events in 2020 and 2021, delivering solutions and spreading know-how on design for recycling of high-quality polymers and their reuse in new electronic applications.
- In February 2021, the project launched an ongoing public awareness-raising campaign calling consumers to opt for “circular consumption” instead of traditional linear ones in view of reducing our environmental impact.
- PolyCE finalized a number of electronic product demonstrators containing recycled plastics to be eventually put on the market.
We hope you will enjoy reading our last Newsletter.
The PolyCE project partners
Circular product development – the secrets to design for and from recycling
Almost 200 international participants joined the virtual workshop “Circular product development – the secrets to design for and from recycling” on April 15, 2021, which took place within the framework of the EU project PolyCE. The experts from the PolyCE consortium presented their experiences and findings on the holistic circular economy for high-tech plastics as well as best-practice strategies developed in line with the motto “Design for Recycling and Design from Recycling”. An additional highlight was the appearance of Frans Timmermans, Commissioner for Climate Action and Vice President of the EU Commission, who is responsible for the Green Deal. He was given recommendations for action for effective plastics recycling.
Fourth and last PolyCE Academy
The fourth and last PolyCE Academy, coordinated by the University of Northampton, took place online on 14th April 2021. The highlight of this last event was the high quality of the presentations, bringing very relevant and captive contents.
FundWaste IoT device for monitoring quality of waste being stored for recycling
The Imagination Factory presented an overview of the Guidelines for Design For and From Recycling that were developed during the PolyCE project. The guidelines were explained using the case study of an Internet of Things product for monitoring the quality of paper and plastic waste that The Imagination Factory designed for one of their clients. ERION introduced the cluster approaches, the University of Northampton explained the business case for circularity, and the University of Ghent gave a presentation on recycled material and 3D printing. The webinar ended with a discussion on the future activities for circular economy of plastics and the PolyCE project.
At the Global Research and Innovation in Plastics Sustainability (GRIPS) conference held in March 2021, the PolyCE team presented the case for circular business models as part of the Materials Flow session. The presentation highlighted the PolyCE demonstrators to show the benefits of using high quality polymers from Post-Consumer Recycled WEEE plastics, using the specific case of the IoT sensor “Smart Waste Management Sensor” which FundWaste, in partnership with The Imagination Factory, are developing for use in commercial facilities.
The presentation examined the potential economic, environmental, and social benefits, to make the business case for the adoption of a circular economy approach. The 3-day conference which attracted 1969 delegates, brought together companies and individuals to highlight the best of the UK and selected international activities which will lead to plastics being less likely to reach landfill, end up incinerated, or become fugitive in the environment.
2020s: The Decade We Rethink Ownership?
Our relationship with products and concept of ‘ownership’ is changing. New and not-so-new ways of consuming stuff have been given a new lease of life, with some exciting benefits for both people and planet.
In February 2021, the PolyCE consortium, led by EEB, launched a new online campaign to raise awareness among consumers and promote circular methods of consumption of electronic goods, that is: borrow, repair, reuse, share and recycle. One consistent benefit of sharing, renting, reusing, repairing and recycling is their potential to reduce the amount of stuff we consume, lowering waste and helping the environment.
On December 11th 2020, PolyCE partner Philips won the “Product of the Year” award at the Plastics Recycling Show Europe for their Senseo Viva Café Eco coffee machine. This is the first Philips product made entirely out of recycled plastics.
PolyCE partner, Kim Ragaert from Ghent University was also recognized for her exceptional scientific leadership in the plastics recycling field with the prestigious title “Plastics Recycling Ambassador.”
PolyCE Academy Webinar: Design Methodologies in the Circular Economy
During the third PolyCE Academy, held online on the 16th of November 2020, more than 40 motivated attendees from different backgrounds, including students and professionals from the industry, participated in the event.
High-level presentations were shown and debated regarding design methodologies in the circular economy. The University of Ghent introduced the issue of polymers for a circular economy and debated on how to bridge the gap between recyclers and converters. The Technical University of Berlin presented the challenges and opportunities in the recycling of WEEE Plastics. Leuven University discussed the plastic recycling and quality assessment for a (more) circular economy. The University of Northampton introduced the general business case for circular business models and discussed the challenges and opportunities along the value chain.
The webinar was rounded by a virtual tour in the DONE Lab – the Additive Manufacturing laboratory located at the Minho University, followed by an interactive session.
PolyCE at the Circular Week 2020
PolyCE organized a webinar on the Challenges and opportunities along the Circular Economy journey: the case of PCR plastics from WEEE on the framework of the Circular Week 2020 targeted to representatives from industry, but also government officials, NGOs, and researchers.
Partners presented and discussed lessons from the field on the enabling factors and challenges facing businesses on their way of adopting circular business models, and embracing PCR plastics from electronic waste. The webinar showcased the latest technological solutions from the PolyCE project for enabling a more inclusive value chain for circular plastics. Product design features (visual appearance and quality) were demonstrated alongside a thorough analysis and recommendations on the financial and technical applicability of the successful inclusion of recycled plastics into business processes.
PolyCE at the Electronics Goes Green 2020
At the Electronics Goes Green 2020 conference held in September 2020, the PolyCE team presented their Drop-In ApproachTM to Design for Recycling and Design from Recycling plastics. Designers are supported through 3 pillars: a drop-in complexity level tool defining a roadmap, a six step material approval approach from material selection to mass production, and “Look & Learn” (i.e., physical demonstrators).
2020’s PolyCE General Assemblies
In 2020, two PolyCE General Assembly took place online in beginning of May and end-November/beginning December. Both events brought together more than 70 participants. Partners presented and discussed completed and remaining activities, key learnings and outlook, including the main researches carried on, the reports and guidelines published, the European consumer campaigns, as well as the progress on the demonstrators from the industry partners. Breakout groups and creative sessions allowed in-depth exchanges and discussion on specific tasks and activities. Partners also brainstormed on the possible follow-up of the PolyCE project and on the project’s life and legacy after the official end in May 2021.
The 8th and final General Assembly took place on 11th May 2021. Thirty project partners gathered to report on the last activities of the project and plan the last weeks of implementation. The meeting was also the occasion for the partners to exchange and reflect on the key individual and group learnings from the past 4 years, the main highlights and successes, and what could have been done differently or improved.