A project aimed at recovering better quality polyamides through efficient recycling of multilayer food packaging waste has been launched by the Spanish plastics technology centre Aimplas.
At the heart of the ‘Recipam’ project is a plan to develop new recycling processes to allow an improved recovery of the packaging’s PA content and its reprocessing in compounds suitable for high grade recycled packaging, including for food contact.
Its aim is to help recover waste more efficiently, by improved separation of multilayer plastics or their recovery through mechanical recycling or pyrolysis. Aimplas wants to enable supply of more sustainable consumer goods by using recycled material to manufacture new high-quality products.
‘Recipam’, funded by the Valencia Innovation Agency (AVI) in Alicante, also involves four Spanish companies from the areas of plastics moulding, waste management and chemicals. They are Ube Corporation Europe of Castellón; the Alicante technical injection moulder Faperin S.L.; Acteco, the Valencia waste management firm, and compounder Repol Group.
Another organisation playing a part in this regional project is AVEP, the Valencia Association of Plastics Entrepreneurs.
Aimplas, based in Paterna, near Valencia, acknowledges the undoubted benefits of multilayer packaging including providing pack sealability, structural and thermal stability and various printing options.
The multilayer option also offers economic and environmental savings through weight reduction as well as food protection through barrier protection.
But, said Aimplas, multilayer plastic packaging “represents a serious environmental concern” because “it is not always managed in the best possible way”. Incineration and landfill rates for this packaging are still very high.
Separating the different layers requires new technologies and recycling processes that raise the cost of the entire process, making it technically and economically less feasible.
Another difficulty is the current low demand for recycled plastics, accounting for just 6% of plastics demand in Europe.
‘Recipam’’s overall goal is to create a multilayer packaging recycling chain by collaborating with the entire value chain.
Aimplas sees this project as also going some way meeting innovation challenges issued by local committees focused on the circular economy in Valencia, it said.