Today, high-performance demands by the industry and the consumers result in 17% of total plastic packaging being made in multilayer material. Difficulties for delaminating the packaging and recycling these multi-layers result in 3.03 Mt/year of plastic.
Joining a partnership between sorting technology providers, recyclers, research centers, social innovation experts and end-users, within a 36 months window, MERLIN project aims at designing innovative solutions for all the processes required to increase the quality and rate of recycled plastic materials coming from multi-layer packaging waste:
- SORTING (combining optical sensors, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and robotics).
- DELAMINATION (optimizing depolymerisation and using solvent-based processes).
- RECYLING (techniques for repolymerization and upcycling of polymers).
- VALIDATION (developing rigid and flexible packaging solutions and demonstrating circularity of the processes).
In tune with the current growth rate of the smart waste management market, MERLIN’s new solutions will meet the growing number of plants that are seeking effective solutions aligned with the EU regulatory framework. In this sense, MERLIN represents a very timely development of new sorting, delaminating and recycling solutions for multi-layer packaging based on PET and/or polyolefins, which are cost-efficient and offer high performance to move towards ‘green’ waste management systems. This will be complemented with additional techniques and tools for circularity design to increase knowledge and effectiveness in the closure of the European multilayer plastic chain. It will also result in major business opportunities reinforced by current multi-layer rigid and flexible packaging market trends, growth in the target end-use sectors, increased visibility, policy awareness and support for these solutions.
These actions, aligned with the ones proposed by the European Plastic Strategy to achieve that by 2030 all plastic packaging, should be designed to be recyclable or reusable and decrease the quantity of waste generated Potential annual carbon footprint saving that could be achieved recycling all the multilayer waste in Europe, which could reach 7.42 Mt CO2/year, with a potential economic of €10,605 million and more 106,000 new job positions.