Chemical depolymerisation

The goal of this programme is to improve quality chemical recycling techniques. Chemical depolymerization can become an important technology for high-quality and efficient recycling of polymers. To enable large-scale application, investments will be made for scale-up and showcases will be funded.

 

Grant module from RVO in 2023 for 5 showcases

The Circular Plastics NL grant module from RVO covers this program line for 5 showcases in 2023. The goal of Circular Plastics NL showcases is to remove bottlenecks in a value chain of a material flow in a given (product) chain. In the 2023 grant module, the goal is to close this value chain through improved design of materials and products, development of sorting and waste technologies specific to this class and development of pilots for mechanical recycling. The results can be used as a blueprint to close other value chains for the same material.

Showcase Chemical depolymerization of PET, PA and PU at pilot scale

To enable commercialization/industrialization, further scale-up is urgently needed.

In the RVO tender in 2023, it is possible to apply for the realization of a demonstration plant for chemical depolymerization of PET, PA or PU into pure monomers suitable for polymerization or oligomers, and the development of plant-tailored specifications for the incoming waste streams and the development of improved characterization, sorting and/or washing processes aimed at making the depolymerization plant robust so that different waste streams can be efficiently processed.

Showcase Chemical depolymerization of PET, PA and PU at pilot scale value chains

Value chains to be investigated: PET, PA and/or PU applications in, for example, packaging, textiles, carpet, artificial turf, building materials and/or automotive.

Showcase: PET packaging

PET packaging excluding packaging that is part of the deposit system.

PET packaging is used for packing fresh food products ranging from fruits and vegetables to fish and meat, among other things. They are ideal for packaging fragile and perishable foods: they are light, strong, gas- and moisture-proof, hygienic and, above all, inexpensive. At the same time, problems arise in recycling: multi-materials are difficult to recycle, black plastics are difficult to identify in sorting, moisture-absorbing materials in meat trays stick to PET, residues of adhesives, coatings and coding inks adversely affect the quality of the recyclate, and residual PE disrupts PET recycling.

In the RVO tender in 2023, it is possible to apply for

  • the development of a new PET packaging that is fully recyclable (including films, lids, labels, etc.), acceptable to the entire chain (including producer, processors, retail and consumer organizations)
  • Providing specific design principles and knowledge for material combinations for PET packaging that is highly recyclable
  • an optimized process for sorting PET waste with higher sorting efficiency resulting in higher quality than DKR Standard 328-1
  • understanding how barrier layers, sealing polymers, adhesives and coatings affect the recycling of non deposit PET packaging

Preferably, the optimization of processes for characterization, sorting and washing focuses on mechanical recycling or chemical depolymerization.

Showcase: polycotton-based textiles

Recycling of textiles is complicated by a number of factors. For example, 70% of all polyester in textiles is used in combination with cotton (polycotton). In addition, the use of coatings and harmful chemicals such as flame retardants in textiles creates bottlenecks in recycling.

In the RVO tender in 2023, it is possible to apply to develop and at least pilot-scale validate methods to separate polycotton into cotton and polyester fractions and characterize and phase out interfering chemicals through improved product design and/or improved sorting and washing processes. Preferably, the optimization of processes for characterization, sorting and washing focuses on chemical depolymerization.

Showcase: carpet

A large amount of carpet is discarded each year. Carpets have a multi-layer structure, combining different polymers. For pile yarn, PES is increasingly used in addition to PA and PP. Tuft fabric consists of PES or PP and the carpet backing of a polyolefin, bitumen or latex layer. The design to mono-polymer carpets or easily separable layers is a relevant step toward high-quality recycling of carpets. Specific automated sorting techniques are then needed to optimize the recycling process.

In the RVO tender in 2023, it is possible to apply to develop a method to separate multi-material carpet, or to develop a design solution for mono-material carpet, which meets the functionality and sustainability requirements of carpet. In addition, a solution must be found for "interference chemicals" in textiles and carpet.

Showcase: soft polyurethane foam

Soft PU foams are often used for complex applications in many different shapes and sizes, which makes disassembly difficult. Soft PU waste materials tend to be high-volume materials (due to their low density), making waste management a challenge. It is challenging to recycle soft PU foams into new products such as mattresses and furniture in a high quality manner.

In the RVO tender in 2023, it is possible to apply is to design soft PU foams suitable for recycling and to develop a method to characterize and separate multilayer PU foams in mattresses, for example, to make them suitable for at least chemical recycling (chemical depolymerization).