“PLAST2bCLEANED first assessments indicate that the new recycling techniques are economic viable and more sustainable compared to the current treatments.”

Interview with Judith Kessens, Senior Project Manager Circular Economy and Esther Zondervan-van den Beuken, Program Manager Circular Plastics at TNO and coordinators of the PLAST2BCLEANED project

What is TNO’s experience in circular plastics?

E: TNO is conducting independent research into circular plastics. This research varies from innovations on plastic product design to sustainable technologies for recycling plastics.

What is the company’s purpose behind circular plastics and what methodology you follow?

J: Plastic waste from electrical and electronic equipment, such as computers, refrigerators, and telephones, contains many additives that are difficult to recycle. At this moment, these plastics are often processed in undesirable ways outside the European Union. This leads to environmental pollution, unnecessary CO2 emissions and a loss of valuable circular raw materials.

E: TNO coordinates the PLAST2bCLEANED project. Together with our partners, we are developing various circular recycling techniques for plastics. Additives such as bromine and antimony trioxide are separated from the plastic polymer with superheated solvent.

J: In this way, we achieve a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. We prevent environmental pollution. Moreover, polymers from plastic waste will soon be available as a circular raw material.

E: The developed technology can easily be translated into waste streams from other sectors, such as the automotive industry, construction & infrastructure, and the packaging industry.

What are the PLAST2bCLEANED results until now?

J: In the first stage of the project, the equipment for the novel plastic sorting process was set-up and calibrated; Based on over 300 experiments, a flow diagram was drawn for novel recycling process. In the laboratory setting, the feasibility of the technology has been proven.

E: Likewise, first assessments indicate that the new recycling techniques are economic viable and more sustainable compared to the current treatments. 

What will be the next steps for the project?

J: The project will soon make the transition from the TNO laboratory in Delft to a pilot plant. Samples weighing fifty kilograms are processed in this pilot plant.

E: This allows the composition and properties of the recycled polymer to be evaluated. We also investigate economic viability.

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