Main goals of the incubator programme are to provide a scientific and technological knowledge base for the programs, train a new generation of highly qualified scientists and engineers, and create new technology fields that create the Dutch industry of the future. In the incubator there is room for research into new polymers and new recycling methods.

New polymers and additives

Target properties for new circular plastics include:

  • compatibility of their functional properties with existing plastics to allow easy market introduction,
  • high yields in subsequent recycling operations,
  • easy removal and reintroduction of e.g. pigments/dyes and plasticisers from a selection of high quality products,
  • compatibility with current down- and upstream plastic production processes.

New recycling methods

To optimise the targeted recycling routes for plastics, we need to combine different chemical recycling and upcycling technologies that are still at different TRL levels. Examples include thermal or thermocatalytic routes (e.g. (catalytic) pyrolysis), which are already at a higher TRL level, while biochemical, photochemical and electrochemical routes are still in their infancy.

Development of new technology capable of analysing in real time the different substances in a recyclate stream on the recyclers' or manufacturer's product belt to have a cost-effective and fast system that identifies the composition of the recyclate and confirms that the composition meets the required standards.

NWO call for proposals open until January 2024 for incubator

To meet the CPNL goals, research can be conducted on new materials (polymers) through the NWO call Making Plastics Circular: Technical Innovations, more effective characterization, sorting and waste technologies and recycling techniques for plastics.

Research can include developing materials and additives that make the process of recycling plastics easier. Development of more efficient and effective characterization, sorting and washing technologies can also be investigated. Furthermore, new recycling methods that are not yet widely used and make recycling more efficient can be examined. There is also room for research into the creation, prevention or mitigation of microplastics in the recycling process.

From the call for proposals through NWO, with the opportunity to apply for funding, six million euros is available for research from which up toten research proposals will be awarded. The studies will run for five years. The awarded projects are expected to be announced in June 2024.