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Development of extraction process for removal of pigments and additives for recycling of polymers (ClearPlast)
Start date: Nov 1, 2008, End date: Oct 31, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Production of PE in Western Europe alone is 13.5 million tonnes p.a. The scrap PE from this production is 15% scrap of which 35% is coloured; creating 709 000 tons of off-spec material. The price on off-spec PE is €1050/ton, indicating a European industrial waste PE recycling market €744M p.a. only in Western Europe. The annual production world wide of 60 mill. tons PE indicates a world wide market of €3,3 Bn. As of today, there is no technical solution available that has the ability to remove pigments and other selected additives from the recycled material. The prospect of a technology enabling removal of pigments and selected additives from scrap opens up a range of possibilities in terms of quality of, and applications for recycled material. In addition, it would have a large impact on the need for virgin material and thus, raw material consumption. The overall technological aim of the project is the development of a controlled supercritical fluid extraction unit that quickly and efficiently removes pigments and selected additives from waste polyethylene. Among the drivers are European Commission directives such as 2004/12/EC Packaging and packaging waste, in addition to the strategy on prevention and recycling of waste. Today, China is a large player on the scrap market, buying enormous volumes. China has reduced imports of virgin resin by importing recycled and scrap polymer, increasing the amount of domestic recycling. China is the world’s largest polyethylene customer, importing 5.65tonnes in 2005, which was well below expectations due to the imports of recycled and scrap polymer. By increasing quality and value of scrap material, less will be exported to China, forcing China to buy virgin at higher price, increasing the competitiveness of European Recyclers by producing recycled material of higher quality.

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