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‘Life ECOMETHYLAL’, a project to recover plastics which can´t be recycled nowadays

Life Ecomethylal, coordinated by AIMPLAS (the Plastics Technology Centre, based in Valencia), is an European project that, by catalytic hydro-gasification with plasma technology means to obtain methylal from plastic wastes. This way, refused plastics that, until now, can´t not be recycled at all, will be recovered.

A pilot plant will be built to give value to packaging, automotive and electric and electronic plastic waste, which are mainly mixtures of different plastics that are impossible to be recovered with the existing technologies. Actually, in 2014, a total of 7.8 million tonnes of these wastes were thrown out in landfills

Regarding this matter, the head of the Sustainability and Industrial Recovery department at AIMPLAS, Eva Verdejo, explains that “during the project, a small and modular pilot plant is going to be built, which will treat these wastes to obtain methylal. This process is a chemical recycling that is above energy valorisation in terms of waste hierarchy”.

As a result, methylal will be obtained, a substance that can be used as a solvent or as a raw material to produce new plastics.

Under this project, at least 15 industrial plants are supposed to be built having this process integrated in the European Union in a period of five years, once the project has been finished. This will allow to treat a total of 144,000 tonnes of plastics each year and obtain 91,200 tonnes of methylal from them.

These plants will make also possible to save 74,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year and an energy saving of 3,400 million MJ each year.

The project LIFE ECOMETHYLAL is framed within the EU Programme LIFE. Some other companies from Valencia which are part of the plan are BPP, ACTECO and AIRESA. Apart from those, the company MI-PLAST from Croatia, is also working with them.

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Circular Economy, EU’s 2017 priority

Proposals for a 65% recycling target for municipal waste are included in the Circular Economy package.

 

Under the heading ‘A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment’,  the European Commission means to set the policy area as a priority. This way, meetings within EU Member States are taking place to end the package of proposals due to be adopted by the European Union to update existing waste and recycling legislation.

This is supposed to include proposals to increase the existing recycling target for household waste from its current level of 50% by 2020, to a higher 65% by 2030 target.

UK AND ITS EXIT

At this point, timing might be the key for the UK.  We need to remember it´s expected to begin the formal process of its withdrawal from the European Union before the end of March, the beginning of two years of the exit negotiations.

However, the UK would need to embrace any european agreement if the Circular Economy legislation becomes an EU law before the UK leaves.

Related to this point, UK ministeres have already informed about their concerns regarding that 65% recycling objective. Defra minister Thérèse Coffey considers that target to be “too high to be achievable”.

Nevertheless, the EU’s Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella has outlined the European Union´s desire not to see targets watered down. He mentioned this after a meeting of ministers in Strasbourg on the 19th of December.

REALISTICS TARGETS

Mr Vella also said: “The Commission has proposed ambitious yet realistic recycling targets and – when necessary and justified – allowing for some extra time in order to take all Member States on board. At the same time, with the proposed rules on calculation we move to a more harmonised system that ensures better reliability and comparability of data. In this light the Commission would regret both lower the target levels and any attempts to weaken the recycling targets. We should avoid introducing many types of re-use definitions into the recycling target.”

Last but not least, Mr. Vella added: “I will explain that 2017 will be a busy year for the Circular Economy as the Commission will table a series of proposals as outlined in the 2015 Action Plan. This will start on 25 January with a ‘mini-package’ of 20 of the 54 action points therein.”

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