Technological Centre

CETIM mobilises more than 180 million euros in recycling and circular economy projects

Every 17th May, we celebrate World Recycling Day and on this year we want to remind you of the need to continue promoting strategies that propose innovative solutions that protect our planet.

We have been committed to the business sector, the environment and innovation for more than a decade. We are pioneers in the development of cutting-edge technologies to optimise industrial processes and make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Since our beginnings, we have worked with more than 280 clients and collaborators, including companies, SMEs, universities and national and international centres. We currently have more than 65 projects underway, more than 90% of which are linked to sustainability and the circular economy.  Our investment mobilised in this type of projects that promote good recycling practices through the revaluation of waste exceeds 180 million euros.

Our research is strategically put faith in fostering the circular economy with innovative recycling processes and technologies to obtain high added-value products from by-products. Today, World Recycling Day, it is important remembering the importance of continuing to join alliances to continue promoting projects with innovative solutions to protect the only planet habitable by humans, the Earth.

Generating sustainable value

All our projects, both nationally and internationally, have a common element: to generate products with high added value by making efficient and responsible use of resources. An example of this can be found in the construction sector, where we research the implementation of solutions that promote a circular economy through the revaluation of waste with a high environmental impact, such as construction and demolition waste and electric arc slag from the iron and steel industry. Worldwide, 3,000 million tonnes of this type of waste, also known as CDWs, are generated each year, and in Spain it account for 28% of the waste generated annually.

In order to provide solutions to this problem, we have been developing the KEOPS project for the last three years with an alliance formed by five companies: Adec Global, Cromogenia, Cementos Cruz, Prefhorvisa and Extracto. KEOPS has succeeded in creating a more sustainable type of cement, known as alkaline or geopolymeric, using CDWs.

The project is still underway, but great results are expected in improving sustainability and the environment with respect to the current production processes of conventional cement, known as ‘Portland’ cement. This will be possible because the creation of the new sustainable binding material from construction and demolition waste and steel slag will eliminate the use of one of the most carbon-intensive components of cement production, clinker. In addition, the new cement contains better properties than Portland cement, such as greater resistance to extreme temperatures and to certain acids and salts. The final piece of the project will be to transfer the research to real environments.

Concrete blocks made from steel slag for the KEOPS project.

Another success case is ECLIPSE, a project framed in the MISIONES 2021 call, where CETIM participates as the main research centre, providing support in the coordination and management of the initiative to the consortium led by TÉCNICAS REUNIDAS and formed by an alliance of eight companies: ACTECO, CELLMAT TECHNOLOGIES, GRUPO COPO, PICVISA, REPSOL, SEAT and SYNTHESIA. The aim of the project is to research new technological routes that facilitate the recycling and revaluation of complex polymeric waste of the automotive sector, as well as to perfect the techniques of separation, recycling, purification and chemical synthesis to obtain new polymers suitable for new uses. It also provides an alternative to mechanical recycling where mechanical recycling is not possible.

ECLIPSE aims to contribute to improving environmental sustainability by increasing the levels of valuation and recovery of complex plastic waste by up to 80%, thereby reducing the carbon footprint by 75%. All this, thanks to the transformation of waste into valuable products, instead of ending up in landfill or accumulating in the waters of rivers and seas, later becoming microplastics, a problem that affects thousands of marine species every year and society as a whole.

Chemical recycling of complex plastic waste from end-of-life vehicles for the ECLIPSE project.

For World Recycling Day, let us remember that a more optimised and environmentally friendly alternative is possible. Although there is still a lot of work ahead, we have already demonstrated throughout these 10 years in each of our projects, companies can improve its environmental sustainability, make an efficient use of resources and a correct valorisation and digitisation of by-products and waste increasing their competitiveness.

The ECLIPSE project has been subsidised by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDIT) within the MISIONES 2021 call. This programme is aimed at financing large strategic business R&D initiatives that propose solutions to cross-cutting and strategic challenges for Spanish society. The aid granted to the project is also financed by the European Union through the Next GenerationEU Fund.