WP1 includes managing the project in compliance with contractual requirements and in terms of budgeting, reporting, strategy, annual and 6-month R&D program planning, controlling with regard to target data, quality and costs, as well as managing the responsible key researchers and work package leaders. Administration also includes concluding contracts with the funding agencies and partners on behalf of the JKU as well as preparing reports. Dissemination includes communicative support regarding individual WPs and preparing content to convey to the general public as well as to an audience of experts. Alongside overall dissemination, the academic/scientific findings are to be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences and symposia.
WP2 addresses potentially collecting and sorting diverse mixed-waste from different sources to recover specific plastic products and types as part of two Tasks. Task 2.1 focuses on the potential survey and identifying unused potential, corresponding plastic products, types and qualities (such as food-grade) in certain wastes (such as material-equivalent non-packaging, mixed plastic fractions). The team will explore potential enhancement through digital labeling technologies as well as implementability at existing sorting facilities. Task 2.2 involves small-scale and large-scale investigations of possible, maximum output and the purity of plastic products depending on aggregate, as well as testing, if they can be implemented at existing plants. The main focus is to develop a sensor/ejector process combination to facilitate sorting certain plastic products (such as food grade) and thereby significantly increase the degree of sorting.
WP3 addresses washing and re-sorting pre-sorted plastic pellets in order to meet specified product requirements. This is based on outlined wet-processing requirements (washing and post-sorting; see Task 3.1). Task 3.2 focuses on the technologies required for washing and post-sorting: According to state-of-the-art procedures, laboratory tests will be conducted with respect to new technologies (oscillating rheology for plastic washing, solvent-based cleaning to remove impurities/odorous substances from the plastic core, and fine refining following the washing process). The core of the task is constructing a pilot plant (~100 kg/h) containing the central, technological building blocks. This pilot plant will be used to fine-tune operating parameters, as well as manage water and chemicals, by integrating processing technologies in to the pilot plant and defining the required in-situ sensor technology. The generated process models serve as the basis to optimize the process chains developed as part of Task 3.3. In order to accomplish this, an optimization method will be created that, in addition making product quality a top priority in regard to product-specific requirements, will optimize the process chains according to criteria such as energy/water/chemical use/scaling options. These results will be compiled in product-specific processing concepts, and decarbonized energy supply concepts will be developed for these concepts.
WP4 addresses advancements in material conversion processes across different material streams, facilitating technological breakthroughs resulting in better grade purity, less foreign substance contamination, better odor properties, and a more defined visual appearance. In addition to the solvent-assisted extrusion process to improve the filtration and decontamination of predominantly polyolefin melts (the focus of Task 4.1), Task 4.2 and Task 4.3 focus on rPET product solutions. The focus here is on PET waste streams that - on account of diversity and resulting recycling process complexities, have not yet been taken into account by the recycling industry (meaning, PET trays and unused (colored) PET fractions). Task 4.4 will elaborate on material modification concepts that facilitate recyclate development in order to produce "marketable" recycled products.
WP5 focuses on presenting specification-based product samples made out of recycled materials. First, product examples are selected at the beginning of the process and then the specifications are determined by not only using data sheet values of the original material(s), but also by meeting other requirements, such as optical demands and/or desired surface quality. Based on these specifications, product-specific test plans are created in order to compare the manufactured recycled material samples with those manufactured using new material(s). Furthermore, the manufactured products made out of recyclates are tested with regard to technical recyclability. Lastly, team members will evaluate the impact of recycled material use in terms of formulation and during the process in an effort to determine the positive/negative effects as well as obtain an overall, assessible comparison to using new materials.
To attain the processing flexibility and support the plastics recycling process required to create a circular economy, Task 6.1 aims to create approaches in data management and processing that will facilitate a secure data and information flow process across company organizational boundaries, taking the involved company partner's need to protect their company secrets into account. Task 6.2 then aims to create data-driven process models based on the integrated process and production data to then simulate value chains in real time, meaning to predict process behavior under changing raw material composition. Based on these types of integrated process models, Task 6.3 will then explore methods to support how to better control individual process steps along the value chain and under variable raw material flows, especially in an effort to retain the end product's consistent composition at all times.
WP7 consists mainly of 2 sections:
The LCA is based on mechanical recycling design scenarios developed in collaboration with WP2, WP3, WP4 and WP5. The LCA is conducted in accordance with 4 methodological steps as specified in ISO 14044, supplemented by an ecological hotspot and sensitivity analysis. Based on a hotspot and sensitivity analysis, recommendations regarding further process development will be determined based on an ecological perspective. In cooperation with partners, corresponding legal issues will be identified and subsequently analyzed based on recent legislative and case law developments. The outcome is to establish a legal need to amend waste and recycling law and make new mechanical recycling processes available.
Together, industry, academia, and science aim to improve the mechanical plastics recycling process.