European Commission launches €7.8 million Research and Innovation project on upcycling bio plastics of food and drinks packaging
- The €7.8 million project ‘upPE-T’ will champion the upcycling of food and drink packaging PE & PET post-consumer wastes to obtain high value products that will be used in the production of biodegradable & recyclable bioplastics (PHBVs) for food & drink packaging manufacturing.
- The upPE-T project will contribute to upcycling up to 60% of food and drink packaging plastic waste by 2030 and develop a viable roadmap to ensure that 60% of the above packaging will be produced from renewable sources by 2030.
- The 4-year project will also increase awareness among EU citizens of products and materials upcycling capacity, bring positive environmental benefits by decreasing 85.6% CO2 compared to conventional plastics production, contribute to European and international standards and certification schemes.
At present, more than 98% of plastics are produced from non-renewable sources. Some plastics are biobased, however not all are recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable. Polyethylene (PE) and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are the leading plastics used in food packaging. The progressive substitution of consumer products derived from fossil fuels is crucial to decarbonise our society, especially in short shelf-life packaging. In 2019, 19% of food & drink packaging plastic post-consumer waste was still sent to landfill and 39.5% was incinerated for energy recovery in Europe. The sustainable management of such plastic waste has become a very challenging problem for the recycling industry globally. Zero landfilling or incineration is needed to achieve the circular economy of plastics. The current alternatives of recycling however have important limitations – (i) mechanical recycling downgrades plastic properties, and (ii) chemical recycling for plastic depolymerisation requires high energy & long reaction times to be effective, consequently only 2% of plastic wastes are chemically recycled.
upPE-T will solve these challenges through an innovative solution for the upcycling PE and PET post-consumer packaging wastes by transforming them into a range of biodegradable & recyclable bioplastics (PHBVs) for food & drink packaging manufacturing. The upPE-T project, a Research and Innovation Action (RIA), has received a grant of 7.826.685 € from the European Commission for the Topic ID: CE-BIOTEC-09-2020.
upPE-T will directly contribute to achieve the expected impacts of the topic by: (a) upcycling up to 60% of food & drink packaging plastic wastes (PE & PET) by 2030, (b) highly contribute to increase upgraded waste recycling facilities by introducing an innovative biocatalytic system in the recycling sector, (iii) establishing a viable roadmap to ensure 60% of food and drinks plastic packaging will be produced from renewable sources, (iv) increase awareness among European citizens of products and materials upcycling capacity, and (v) standardisation & certification facilitating future replicability and widest use and ensure market acceptance.
upPE-T is coordinated by CETEC, Spain and involves a total of 20 European partners from 10 countries including 7 SMEs, a Large Enterprise, 5 Universities, 4 RTOs, a Municipality, a Consumers Organisation (UNC), and a Standard Development Organisation (UNE). The project aims to achieve TRL 6 by the end of its lifetime and involves all the key actors in the supply chain. The project will bring additional positive impacts across Europe in terms of (a) CO2 decreasing (85.6% compared to conventional plastic production), (b) 0.47Mton PHBV/year produced, (c) an estimated 424,000 tons of plastics not sent to landfilling, and (d) creation of 25 direct and 1500 indirect jobs.
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Get involved: https://uppet.eu/get-involved/stakeholders
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 953214.