Circularity of multilayer films: novel recycling technologies vs design for recycling

The circularity of multilayer films has been a challenge to recyclers and film manufacturers. Different solutions are proposed, each of which has its pros and cons. Design for recycling is a good candidate to close the loop in the packaging value chain. However, comparing to modern recycling technologies, a question will arise : novel recycling technologies vs design for recycling, which one is more sustainable. Within our expertise in TNO, we have conducted extensive research on recycling of multilayer packaging using dissolution as well as novel mechanical recycling methods.

Such technologies are assessed using life cycle assessment (LCA) and for the first time we have integrated the quality of recycled films into the LCA. Therefore, as a result of such novel technologies new films are produced which are suitable for food contact applications. Additionally, we compare this approach with Design for Recycling whereby films made from monomaterials are assessed via LCA. As a part of LCA we have used the material flow analysis in the European geography as the current scenario and the result will be compared with the future scenario (2050) with certain technological improvement such as electricity grid, efficiency, collection rate etc. Such comparisons help the film producers to have a broad and solid overview on the best approach to tackle the issue of multilayer films circularity.

A presentation by Milad Golkaram, Polymer scientist – Circular economy, TNO

Interview

Question 1: What drives you?
In order to reach a sustainable future where we all can thrive, we need a holistic approach which is supported with facts and backed with science.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
There has been a plethora of proposals on how to tackle the sustainability of packagings. For the first time, we include the quality of recycling in LCA and comparing different technologies such as dissolution and modern mechanical recycling we determine the most promising approach.

Question 3: What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Closed loop mechanical recycling as well as dissolution

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Using the tools proposed in this presentation, we aim for closed-loop recycling

About Milad Golkaram
I was born in Iran with three siblings. After finishing my Bachelors in Chemical engineering I moved to Germany (Halle) to do my masters in polymer science. Thereafter, I moved to Groningen (the Netherlands) and worked on synthesis of novel supramolecular polymers and developed new materials capable of dynamic associations called supramolecular bottle brush polymers. Subsequently, I found my passion in circular economy and joined TNO. As a scientist, I am responsible for LCA and quality assessment of plastics.

About TNO
TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, was founded by law in 1932 to enable businesses and governments to apply knowledge. As an organization regulated by public law, TNO is independent: not part of any government, university, or company. TNO connects people and knowledge to create innovations that boost the competitive strength of industry and the well-being of society in a sustainable way. We believe in the joint creation of economic and social value. We focus on transitions or changes in nine social themes:
Buildings, Infrastructure & Maritime : ‘Robust constructions, sustainable use’
The Circular Economy and the Environment: ‘Directing and accelerating sustainability’,
Defence, Safety and Security: ‘We’re putting our knowledge and technology to work for safety and security’
Energy: ‘Faster towards a sustainable energy supply’
Healthy living: ‘Focussing on participation, not on the disease’
Industry: ‘Innovating for employment, welfare and well-being’
Information & Communication Technology: ‘Interpreting and accelerating digital transformation’
Strategic Analysis & Policy: ‘Turning complex issues into concrete innovations’
Traffic and Transport: ‘Helping to create liveable, sustainable cities’

TNO stands for innovation with purpose and to develop knowledge not for its own sake, but for practical application.

Milad Golkaram is speaker at the 2022 edition of the Packaging Design 4 Sustainability Conference.

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