circPLAST‐mr Mechanical Recycling of Plastics: Mechanisches Recycling von Kunststoffen: From waste plastics to high‐quality and specification‐compliant recyclates

The flagship project circPLAST‐mr pursues the following 4 main objectives: (1) to identify and explore previously unused potential for mechanical plastics recycling, (2) to define and test key process steps for this on a laboratory/pilot scale, (3) to demonstrate the eco‐efficient marketability of increased recycled plastic volumes, and (4) to demonstrate the scalability of the laboratory/pilot process steps to industrial scale.

Short Description

Running time

01.04.2022 – 31.03.2026

Starting point / motivation

The achievement of future EU and Austrian targets for
mechanical recycling rates of plastic wastes and the minimization of the EU plastic waste levy for non‐ recycled plastic packaging wastes require significant improvements in all individual process steps of mechanical plastics recycling. For example, in order to achieve the EU target of a mechanical recycling rate for plastic packaging wastes of at least 55% by 2030, the output efficiencies in the 3 essential process steps, (a) collection, (b) sorting and pre‐processing, and (c) conversion & recovery, must be increased from the current Austrian status of approx. 58% for process steps (a) and (b) and approx. 78% for process step (c), to 80‐85% (!) for each of these process steps.

Contents and goals

Building on the existing competences of the partners involved (11
scientific partners, 14 company partners), a further significant increase in knowledge and competence with regard to the entire recycling process loop is to be achieved through comprehensive and interactive integration and participation of the partners in the research program as an overall
objective, which is indispensable for the achievement of the very demanding political target quotas.
On the one hand, this knowledge generation relates in particular to necessary process and materials technology aspects and measures, but on the other hand also to logistical requirements for waste and material flow management. From this, 4 concrete main objectives including expected results are
derived: (1) to identify and explore further, so far unused potentials for the mechanical recycling of plastics, (2) to define, implement and test key process steps on a laboratory/pilot scale, (3) to demonstrate the eco‐efficient "marketability" of increased quantities of recycled plastics through exemplary products with improved quality and performance characteristics, and (4) to demonstrate the principle scalability of the laboratory/pilot processes to production scale (case studies).

Expected results / conclusions

The integrative and coordinated consideration of all process
steps in the mechanical recycling of plastics, together with the structure and design of the research program, defined by the selected classes of material flows, plastics and products as well as the process steps to be researched in the individual work packages and the associated effects on the material quality characteristics of the recyclates, form the overarching framework for the "conceptual" innovation content of this flagship project. Important innovation components also result from the use of digital technologies and modern, intelligent sensor technologies. This will enable the technical and the economic‐ecological optimization of all process steps along the entire value chain of mechanical recycling of plastic wastes from both separate collection and mixed wastes. In the material flow management, special attention is paid to energy efficiency, the potential use of renewable energy technologies and the recycling of water including any additives (chemicals). The commercial implementation of the research results in future industrial practice is ensured not least by the main objectives (3) and (4) described above.

Project Partners

Scientific Partner:

  • Johannes Kepler University Linz
    Institute of Polymeric Materials and Testing
    LIT Factory
    Institute for Chemical Technology of Organic Materials
    Institute for Environmental Law
  • Competence Center CHASE GmbH
  • Energy Institute at JKU Linz
  • JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
  • Montanuniversität Leoben
  • Chair of Waste Processing Technology and Waste Management
  • Software Competence Center Hagenberg GmbH
  • Transfercenter für Kunststofftechnik GmbH

Company Partner:

  • ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG
  • Altstoff Recycling Austria AG
  • APC Advanced Polymer Compounds
  • Borealis Polyolefine GmbH
  • Business Upper Austria – OÖ Wirtschaftsagentur GmbH
  • ENGEL Austria GmbH
  • EREMA Engineering Recycling Maschinen u. Anlagen GmbH
  • GAW technologies GmbH
  • Greiner Packaging International GmbH
  • Lindner Recyclingtech GmbH
  • O.Ö. Landes‐Abfallverwertungsunternehmen GmbH
  • OSMO Membrane Systems GmbH 
  • Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG
  • Starlinger & Co. Gesellschaft m.b. H. – viscotec

Contact Address

JKU - Johannes Kepler Universität Linz
Univ.-Prof. DI Dr.mont. Reinhold W. Lang
Altenberger Straße 69, 4040 Linz
Tel: +43 732 2468 6610