A consortium of European players has started a new project to study chemical de-polymerisation of PET, according to the trade association European Plastics Converters (EuPC).
DEMETO, said EuPC on 30 Oct, is a project aimed at the development of an industrial scale chemical de-polymerisation process for PET using microwave-based process intensification. This technology, invented by Swiss company gr3n to enable an effective process intensification of the depolymerisation reaction (hydrolysis) of plastic, is based on the adoption of microwave radiations as energetic catalyser. This reduces reaction time and the complexity of the purification steps of PTA, and increases the productivity through a continuous process instead of the batch processes typical of the current industrial state of the art.
With PET plastic waste as input, the outputs generated by the process include the original building blocks of this plastic– EG and PTA – which can consequently be directly reintroduced as raw materials at the virgin-grade production stage.
Participants in the project, which has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, include gr3n, as the manufacturer of the Reactive Units, and Processi Innovativi, the EPC contractor responsible for building the full-scale de-polymerisation plants.
The complete DEMETO consortium includes ACTOR, DTU, European Outdoor Group, European Plastics Converters (EuPC), Fricke and Mallah GmbH, gr3n, H&M, NEOGROUP, Processi Innovativi, PETCIA, SUPSI, Synesis, and 3V Tech.
During its kick-off event on 28 Sept in Brussels, the consortium welcomed around 60 experts from the PET packaging and polyester industry in order to bring them up to date on the DEMETO project.
"DEMETO proposes the industrialisation and demonstration at full-scale of a new industrial process which allows to chemically recycle PET bottles, food containers and even textiles in a highly profitable and environmentally sustainable way," explained Maurizio Crippa, CEO of gr3n, during the event.
"DEMETO's technology, once successfully implemented, would allow to close the recycling loop for PET, with a potential impact on environment and society at large that would be enormous, introducing the concept of full circular economy in the plastic domain," added Franco Cavadini, CTO of Synesis.