realCYCLE: Marking plastics - the path to a circular economy?

Together with stakeholders in the plastics value chain, various pilot projects are being conceptualized and implemented. In addition, the systemic requirements and framework conditions for scalability will be examined. Real possibilities will be identified to enable a nationwide and sustainable plastics circular economy in Switzerland.

Main focus

  • Technologies in the field of plastic markers: advantages and disadvantages, criteria for selection, suitability in the context of developments with artificial intelligence.
  • Recyclates that we can use: What fractions must plastics be able to be sorted into in order to create a plastics circular economy? Where are there regulatory obstacles?
  • Future developments: How do product design, available recycling or sorting technologies influence the selection or use of plastic markers?
  • Benefits inside and outside recycling: What can a plastic marker really do?

 

Goals of the pilot project

The development of a circular economy for plastics is made immensely difficult by the complexity of the material flows. The great diversity of plastics and the additives contained in the plastics and the use in material composites prevent an efficient recycling system for post-consumer plastics today. A circular economy requires high recyclate qualities. The production of high-quality recyclates, in turn, requires fractions that are as pure as possible.

And this is precisely where the pilot project comes in:
The pilot project "Marking plastics - the way to a circular plastics economy?" is investigating the use of plastic markers for marking and subsequent sorting of plastic packaging in Switzerland. The results will show whether marking is feasible, economically viable and ecologically beneficial. The entire value chain will be included in order to avoid trade-offs between individual processes.
 

What we are currently working on

The first phase of the project is subject to the guiding question "How can plastic markers contribute to a sustainable circular economy for plastics?". In doing so, we are focusing on the following questions:

  • Technologies in the field of plastic markers? Advantages and disadvantages, criteria for selection, suitability in the context of developments with artificial intelligence.
  • Recyclates that we can use: What fractions must plastics be able to be sorted into in order to create a plastics circular economy? Where are there regulatory obstacles?
  • Future developments: How do product design, recycling technology or sorting technology influence the selection or use of plastic markers?
  • Benefits inside and outside recycling: What can a plastic marker really do?

Since the last meeting with stakeholders interested in the topic of markers, various information on the European projects has been collected and discussions have been held with individual industry partners.

Holy Grail 2.0

The Holy Grail 2.0 project is currently conducting semi-industrial field trials in Copenhagen. Here are a few keywords:

  • Field trial in cooperation with the City of Copenhagen at two locations (from October 2021, duration approx. 4 months), around 125,000 packages from approx. 260 "stock-keeping units".
  • Sorting module (prototype) from Pellenc ST / Digimarc or Tomra
  • Verification of all parameters for full industrial scaling
  • Sorting into food and non-food or by polymer types
  • If successful: launch of labeled products in the market (DK, FR, DE), 1st semester 2022 and industrial sorting (phase 3: trials until Q3 2022).

We are monitoring these trials and will report on them on an ongoing basis. In doing so, we will continue to focus on the issues listed above.

Pilot Project Partner

The following stakeholders actively participated in this pilot project:

  • Emmi Switzerland AG
  • Etimark AG
  • FH East
  • Greiner Packaging AG
  • plastic.swiss
  • Mibelle Group
  • Migros Cooperative Federation MGB
  • M-Industry
  • Müller Recycling AG
  • PET Recycling Switzerland PRS
  • reCIRCLE
  • Scintilla AG (Bosch)
  • Semadeni Plastic Group

In contact (information exchange):

  • Digimarc
  • Henkel (Switzerland) AG
  • Polysecure
  • R-Cycle
  • Resilux (PolyRecycling, Petcore Europe)
  • Tomra
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