Laboratory for Circular Process Engineering, Ghent University

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Flanders

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Belgium

The Pilot Test Centre for Chemical Washing of Plastic Waste

Delamination, deinking and deodorization are key technologies in the circular economy for flexible packaging. Although promising, there are limited possibilities to gain knowledge on these processes or performing upscaling trials before implementation. Therefore, Pilot Test Centre for Chemical Washing of Plastic waste (PCWP) aims to become the worldwide knowledge and test centre for chemical washing.

Currently only a few techniques are capable of delaminating and/or deinking plastic films. Moreover, some of them still need improvement in terms of process efficiency and reactor design. The LCPE team has already (co-)developed several techniques that can remove all types of inks, which is needed to achieve full circularity of plastic films (3 patents have been filed, some approaches are published and some are trade secret with companies). These techniques can overcome major shortcomings in the current recycling of plastics, making it possible to recycle plastics into high-quality recyclates. LCPE has already examined the optimal process parameters, such as temperature, medium composition, solid/liquid ratio, etc for several processes. LCPE is currently also optimizing the reactor design to avoid for example ink bleeding, which is an important step for further upscaling of chemical washing technologies and increasing the TRL.

Based on this, the proposed solution is a Pilot test centre for Chemical Washing of Plastic waste (PCWP), which aims to become an independent, state-of-the-art facility that operates from a laboratory level to a multi-ton scale. PCWP is a service provider for process development and scale-up of chemical washing of flexible packaging (and in broader sense pretreatment).

PCWP will become the worldwide objective knowledge and test centre for chemical washing. The proposed solution has four axis:

  • Unique demonstration equipment with core focus on chemical wash reactors at different scales and with different configurations;
  • (Co-)development of new chemical wash procedures with external research institutes and companies, from lab scale to industrial scale;
  • Demonstration of closed-loop recycling by chemical washing of newly developed packaging by converters and brand owners;
  • Objective comparisons of different treatments and different packaging designs, which allow legislative bodies and other organizations, such as CEFLEX, PCEP, Recyclass, etc,. to elaborate on design for chemical wash guidelines.
Lead organization region / continent
Europe
Location of future work
Europe
Solution type
Sorting and Preparation