First anniversary increace project

On 1st of June, the INCREACE project celebrated its first anniversary. The past 12 months of continuous efforts have proven successful: The INCREACE consortium joined forces to tackle a common objective, namely to increase recycled content in added value products for a resilient and digitized Circular Economy. Successful completion of the goal set within the project requires transdisciplinary collaboration, involving all major stakeholders along the plastics value chain. Therefore, INCREACE tackles…

  1. Systemic Challenges, including market, regulatory, environmental and societal aspects
  2. implements 5 Business Cases, to explore 5 different challenges and to innovate
  3. furthers Fruitful Exchange among experts to draw on existing knowhow

 During the kick-off meeting in Berlin hosted by Fraunhofer IZM, the multi-disciplinary consortium got to know each other, aligned on responsibilities and defined a roadmap for the upcoming months. Right from the start a strong communication and dissemination plan was implemented to share insights from the project via different means.

1. Towards an enabling system

Successful transition towards an increased uptake of recycled plastics in added value products requires deep understanding of all actors involved in the value chain. Therefore, a stakeholder and value chain analysis with specific focus on the five INCREACE Business Cases was conducted. While this initial examination provides valuable insights on the most influential actors including barriers and enabling factors, further in-depth analysis is planned.

To enable more circular practices in the plastics sector, a shift in perception from waste management towards secondary resource availability is beneficial. Therefore, an analysis of the circular economy framework on effective plastics recycling sheds light on the how and where (re)compounders, plastic converters and OEMs can source waste plastic-derived materials. By the end of the INCREACE project, the framework will be operationalized for the five Business Cases.
Moreover, a first Design Sprint identified systemic obstacles to a well-functioning recycled plastics market and potential solutions to further increase the uptake of recycled plastics were co-creatively developed.

However, systemic change cannot be obtained without involving society. Consumers, as individual decision makers on the purchase and return of products, play a crucial role in closing loops. ‘Design for divestment’ tackles this final phase of consumption when separating from a product. In a first step, state-of the art design for divestment theory and practice were explored to identify knowledge gaps that should be tackled further down the road.

2. Implementation within Business Cases

The five INCREACE Business Cases tackle different challenges regarding recycled plastics. Accordingly, a roadmap was defined, laying down the required recycling processes for each Business Case. First separation and sorting trials were conducted which will be followed by material characterization. After pre-processing, the material will be tested in three different recycling pathways covered within the INCREACE project – mechanical, solvent-based and chemical.

A well-functioning closed loop solution requires efforts along the entire value chain, including the design stage. Therefore, a recyclability assessment tool for product designers is under development to indicate room for improvement on ‘design for and from recycling’ already at an early stage.

3. Fruitful exchange to maximize success

Since the start of the project the INCREACE team exchanges knowhow and expertise relevant for the consortium during internal ‘Crash Course’ sessions. This trans-disciplinary knowledge sharing facilitates holistic understanding of various aspects of the entire circular economy of plastics relevant to maximize success of the INCREACE project.

In February 2023, the INCREACE project partners gathered in Valencia at Cabka’s (Business Case owner) innovation center for a three-days General Assembly. During interactive working sessions and fruitful discussions, cross-cutting issues were resolved and next steps identified. To ensure the accurateness and applicability for the entire EEE sector, the consortium regularly consults its Advisory Board which consist of influential and valuable experts. During the upcoming 3rd General Assembly in September 2023 in Maastricht the consortium will meet together again.

2. Medical applications

The second business case is focused on plastic recyclates in medical applications manufactured by Philips. Medical devices and equipment require high levels of purity and quality materials, since they need to be proof for direct or indirect skin contact. Such biocompatibility requirements, make it challenging to use recycled plastics of currently commercially available quality. However, with the right technology and recycling processes, recycled plastics can be used in medical applications. Within the INCREACE project experts are joining forces to identify pathways for the safe application of plastic recyclates in medial devices.

3. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)

The third business case is focused on electrostatic discharge (ESD) of pallets produced by Cabka. ESD refers to an electric current flow between charged objects which can not only result in visible sparks but also cause severe damage to electronic devices. Therefore, during manufacturing and shipping of electronic devices, a ESD protective environment is crucial.. INCREACE is working to develop new solutions based on recycled plastics that can provide ESD protection

4. UL94 flammability standards

The fourth business case is focused on UL94 flammability standards a widely recognized standard for testing the flammability of plastics. By adding flame retarding compounds to plastics, the combustion of the material is inhibited and delayed. This is an important safety measure to prevent or slow down the development of fire in case of an ignition. INCREACE is working together with Skaza to overcome challenges for recycled plastics to comply with flammability standards / develop new methods to increase the flame-retardant properties of recycled plastics to meet the UL94 V0 standard.

5. High-tech plastic components in EEE

The fifth business case is focused on high-tech plastic components in EEE. Electronic devices require high-performance plastics that can withstand extreme temperatures, high pressures, and corrosive environments. INCREACE is working to develop new high-tech plastic components made from recycled plastics that meet the demanding requirements of the EEE sector.

Overall, the INCREACE project is an exciting initiative that has the potential to make a significant impact on the plastic recycling value chain, specifically for application in added value electric and electronic devices. By developing innovative solutions and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with recycled plastics, INCREACE is helping to create a more sustainable and circular economy.

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