Characterisation, sorting and washing

The goal this program component is to develop open facilities to improve sorting efficiency and recyclate quality. In addition, general programs will be established to develop recyclate quality testing methods, process analysis and characterization methods, mitigation strategies for microplastics and an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system for predicting recyclate value.

The Circular Plastics NL grant module from RVO covers this program line for research projects in 2023. The awarded projects are expected to be announced in April 2024.








Description of the programme

To accelerate the circular plastic supply chain and move toward higher recycling rates, characterizing, sorting and washing are crucial steps in addition to designing and setting up the waste management system. Characterising to determine what materials and interfering substances are in a stream, sorting to recover valuable materials from a waste stream and washing to increase material quality by removing adhering dirt, inks, adhesives, odour and other interfering substances.


This program line focuses on:

  • Development of raw material and product characteristics and related test methods for different recycling technologies
  • Development of characterization, sorting and waste technologies for specific applications
  • Development of an expert system (based on AI/ML/MVDA) that integrates analytical and context information to predict recyclate value and choose an optimal recycling route
  • Further development of separation technologies of laminate materials
  • Development of process analysis and characterization methods for application throughout the recycling chain
  • Development of mitigation strategies to reduce the impacts of microplastics
  • Development of specific pretreatment and sorting techniques for different types of rubber
  • Development of analytical process techniques


The objective is to research or develop processes, methodologies or techniques aimed at improving materials and product design, characterization, sorting and washing of plastic waste streams or processes for conversion of plastic waste streams into new raw materials to increase recycling efficiency and recyclate quality (including chemical recycling output).

Topics in the RVO grant module in 2023

A grant module is expected in October 2023 for research projects with the following topics:

Topic 1: Develop and implement characterization technologies to increase the quality of recycling outputs

Topic 2: Development of a digital expert system

Topic 3: Development of specific pretreatment and sorting techniques for the synthetic rubber from tires


NTCP, an independent non-profit organization is open to cooperation with all parties in the chain and provides objective results and advice. Since 2019, NTCP is the leading research institute in Europe in the field of characterizing, sorting and washing plastics from (household) waste streams. The center offers on a relevant industrial scale the possibility to conduct tests and research, evaluate new technologies and develop and test processes for both mechanical and chemical recycling routes. Conducting experiments and research at this scale will accelerate industry implementation. NTCP will explore opportunities for expansion in consultation with CPNL in 2023.