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Innovative strategies for multi-layer materials recycling

Pharmaceutical packaging waste, consisting of multiple layers of polymers and aluminium, is a significant source of pollution.  Multi-layer packaging typically comprises a coating to protect any printing, an outer layer or printed surface, a structural layer to provide shape and protect against tearing, a tie layer to combine or adhere dissimilar materials together, a barrier, for example of oxygen, and a polymer seal that must not interact with packaging content.

The European Commission (EC)’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) sets a 50% recycling target for plastics packaging waste by 2025, and 55% by 2030 (The Circular Economy For Plastics, 2022, Plastics Europe).

Some of the challenges associated with the recycling of multi-layer packaging materials and/or polymer blends include differences in melting points and processing temperatures between the polymers in mixed plastics, behavioural properties, including synergistic, antagonistic and additive, of polymer blends, and materials degradation due to both environmental exposure over lifetime, and during reprocessing.

The EU-funded Sol-Rec2 project will seek to reduce pharmaceutical packaging waste by developing and implementing innovative strategies to improve the sorting, separation, and recycling of pharma blister packs and laminated consumer packaging waste.  The project will also develop pioneering digital watermark technologies, fast and effective sorting of multi-layer packaging, and a toolbox of advanced green solvent systems to delaminate multi-layer packaging material and selectively dissolve targeted polymers.  The recycling process established within Sol-Rec2 will also be scaled up for pilot stage.

Visit the Sol-Rec2 website to find out more.

Partners: the Sol-Rec2 consortium comprises eight partners, including the Materials Innovation Centre (MatIC), representing eight countries.

Sol-Rec2 is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101003532).

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