The projects listed below are initiatives designed to answer questions around the potential recovery of hard-to-recycle plastics - including multi-material films.
Please note that none of these projects addressed multi-material films independently. In order to meet cost effective collection, sortation or processing, projects typically included a variety of hard-to-recycle plastics.
The EnergyBag™ Phases 1 & 2 (2014-Present)
In 2014, the EnergyBag™ pilot program was conducted over three months to pilot the collection and processing of hard-to-recycle plastics. It was the first of its kind in the United States to prove that non-recycled plastics could be collected at curbside and diverted from landfills in order to optimize resource efficiency.
Households in the community of Citrus Heights, California were included in the pilot to test the feasibility of using existing municipal waste management infrastructure to collect, sort and direct traditionally non-recyclable plastics towards energy conversion. In this case, the production of synthetic crude via pyrolysis. Over 8,000 bags were collected in three months and approximately 6,000 pounds of non-recycled plastics were diverted from landfills.
Based on the successes of Citrus Heights, a second program was developed in 2016 for the city of Omaha, NE. Using the same curbside collection process as Citrus Heights, this project directs non-recyclable plastic towards energy generation for cement kilns.
Flexible Aluminum-Containing Laminate Collection Trials (2015-2016)
A pilot project based within the United Kingdom (UK), established to understand the potential to develop a curbside collection and processing program for aluminum-containing packaging. The program evaluated three different communities all with different curbside programs and population.
REFLEX (Recycling of Flexible Packaging) Project 2014-2016
Based in the UK, REFLEX was a collaborative research and development project designed to understand and address the technical barriers to mechanical recycling of flexible plastic packaging in the post-consumer waste stream. The initial aims of REFLEX were completed in 2016. Further work will now be transferred to CEFLEX to help develop and grow insights for application across all of Europe.
flexible packaging in a circular economy (FIACE) 2016-2017
Based within the European Union (EU), FIACE sought to document the value added by flexible packaging solutions, as well as identify future opportunities which would provide the potential to further 'close the loop'. The project explored food-contact flexible films, including multi-material structures. FIACE intentionally excluded research on collection and sortation which they believed to be covered by other initiatives. Effective 2017, FIACE has merged with CEFLEX.
materials recovery for the future (MRFF) 2015 - present
Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) is a multi-year research project designed to identify how currently unrecyclable flexible packaging could be separated at a material recycling facility (MRF) in a single stream recycling system. Additionally, the project seeks to identify the most cost-effective way to separate and create film bales for sale in order to help drive end market growth.
Circular economy for flexible packaging (CEFLEX) 2017- Present
Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) is a collaborative project representing a consortium of European companies spanning the value chain of flexible packaging. Their objectives to to advance better design solutions to make flexible packaging a valued material in the circular economy.
Data from REFLEX, the Flexible Aluminum Containing Laminate Collection Trials and FIACE will all feed into this project in order to drive a solution applicable across Europe.