Technological Centre

ECLIPSE starts: disruptive technologies for the recycling of complex plastics

The ECLIPSE consortium, formed by ACTECO, PICVISA, REPSOL, CELLMAT TECHNOLOGIES, GRUPO COPO, SYNTHESIA, SEAT and TÉCNICAS REUNIDAS (leader), is researching new technological routes for recycling of complex plastics, to reduce the use of natural resources and the pollution generated by waste.

CETIM, as well as scientific coordinator of the project, are developing research for the advanced classification of complex plastics and proofs of concept of disruptive recycling technologies.

Plastic production has grown exponentially in recent decades and this has been accompanied by an increase in plastic waste. However, of this waste produced, only 32% is recycled (mostly by conventional mechanical methods), 43% is incinerated for energy recovery and 25% ends up in landfills. Therefore, it is necessary to invest in technologies to increase the type of plastics that can be recycled, as both mechanical recycling and incineration have a number of limitations, one of them being the difficulty of separating complex polymers.

ECLIPSE: new technologies for recycling and recovery of complex plastics
Within this framework, the ECLIPSE Missions project is researching new technological routes that facilitate the recycling and revaluation of complex polymeric waste and that represent a significant advance over the current state of the art in terms of separation, recycling, purification and chemical synthesis to obtain new polymers suitable for new uses.

Recently, the ECLIPSE consortium, made up of eight companies – ACTECO, CELLMAT TECHNOLOGIES, GRUPO COPO, PICVISA, REPSOL, SEAT, SYNTHESIA and TÉCNICAS REUNIDAS (leader) – has begun research work on new systems for the identification and separation of mixed streams to develop new technologies for the combined recycling (thermal, chemical and biological) of the different polymeric fractions to formulate recycled plastics with the aim of minimizing waste generation and making them more energy efficient. These recycling processes require subsequent stages of isolation and purification of the desired products for reuse in the synthesis of specialty chemicals, polymer formulations and product eco-design.

Thus, ECLIPSE’s aim is to contribute to the improvement of environmental sustainability by increasing the levels of valorization and recovery of complex plastic waste by up to 80% and reducing the carbon footprint by 75%, with the massive implementation of these new recycling methods to replace incineration or landfilling of discarded plastics.

Collaboration with research organizations
In order to carry out this research, the ECLIPSE consortium has the collaboration of technological centers and universities, which serve as a knowledge base and provide support in the project’s research.

For our part, from CETIM we have driven the proposal since its inception and, in addition to carrying out the coordination of the project office, we are participating in the analysis and characterization of complex plastic waste and supporting the partners in the eco-design of the technological routes for recycling.

We will also collaborate with the different consortium partners in the research of thermal, chemical and biological recycling technologies and their subsequent optimization and possible synergistic combinations, as well as in the synthesis of specialty chemicals and polymer formulations.

We will also carry out proof-of-concept testing and technical, economic and environmental analysis of the technologies and products finally proposed.

Thus, with the successful implementation of the ECLIPSE project, a sustainable, circular and integral system for the recycling and revalorization of complex plastic waste (thermoplastics and thermosets) will be obtained, which will be versatile and transferable to all strategic industrial sectors. All this will be achieved thanks to the synergic union of companies from different technological domains.