EIT Climate-KIC aims to slash industrial plastic use through innovation in digital tools

EIT Climate-KIC and partners have launched an exciting programme to cut down plastic demand, promoting a more circular approach to plastic-based material systems.

eCircular aims to explore and use innovative digital tools to improve plastics waste prevention. This includes blockchain solutions for improved market transparency, data analytics for simulation and forecast applications, and cyber physical systems for improved reuse and remanufacturing.

Around 49 million tons of plastic were used in the EU in 2015 for packaging, building and construction, electronics or the automotive industry. Currently, less than 40 per cent are recycled, more than 30 per cent are incinerated for energy recovery and the rest is put into landfill.

The quality of recycled plastics is increasing but the overall uptake of recycled plastics remains low. Only 6 per cent of new plastic materials come from recycling, resulting in 95 per cent of the potential economic value in plastic packaging going to waste. eCircular aims to tackle this issue, enhancing plastic waste prevention by developing and supporting digital innovations.

“eCircular thrives for radical digital innovations for waste prevention. Digital technologies foster traceability of materials and products, allow for accurate information flows on product qualities and availability, reducing gaps in knowledge and regulation,” says Alberto Bellini from the University of Bologna, Project Lead for eCircular.

“The programme seeks to strongly contribute to the European strategy for plastics in a circular economy. It gathers and unites the relevant actors on a powerful platform to overcome major barriers, different knowledge bases, and priorities,” says Kirsten Dunlop, CEO at EIT Climate-KIC.

Sira Saccani, EIT Climate KIC’s Director of Sustainable Production Systems, adds that the programme “aims to transform the plastics value chain, addressing current structural inefficiencies through innovative business models and eco-design, as well as supporting the shift to new consumer choices and behaviours.”

The eCircular programme is one of the EIT Climate-KIC’s initiatives on addressing the challenges that plastic value chains face. The ambition is to co-design and launch a series of circular economy interventions on cement, plastics and metals value-chains, to achieve its goal of recasting material production towards net-zero emissions.

eCircular was launched in May 2018 by EIT Climate-KIC, with research and activities carried out by the University of Bologna (lead organisation), Wuppertal Institute, Lund University, Montanuniversität Leoben, and Ecomatters.

 
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