German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
KMU-innovative Project Flyers - Status April 2012- Translation

Shredder-Residues as Source for High-Quality Plastics (Poly-Ressource)

During the last decades steel, glass, wood and other materials have been replaced by plastics with increasing tendency and the demand for high-quality plastics for technical products is still increasing. However fossil raw-materials, especially crude oil, for the production of plastics are limited. Therefore actual research work focusses on opportunities to recover plastics from waste streams for the use in high-value applications.

 

The joint project „Poly-Ressource“ targets the recovery of engineering plastics from light shredder residues, which are collected during the metal recycling of waste electro(nic) equipment (WEEE) and end-of-live vehicles (ELVs). The project is financially supported by the „KMU-innovativ“ measures of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This initiative supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their development of innovative technologies and services for improved resource and energy efficiency.

electro_recycle_input-2012.jpgIn Germany and Europe the potential of opportunities is still very high in the field of plastic recycling and despite the shrinking reserves of crude oil the recycling rate is only approximately 13% in relation to the production volume. An essential reason for this is the heterogeneity of plastic waste streams. 
The usual treatment of electro(nic) equipment (WEEE) or end-of-live vehicles (ELVs) starts with the grinding in a shredder to separate primarily the metal fractions. Additionally a light shredder fraction is collected that contains a mixture of all kinds of materials and plastics as a major part. Up to now the light shredder fraction is mainly incinerated for energy recovery. The fractions which are rich in plastics consist of many different plastic types (polymers) with different properties and impurities (e.g. heavy metal pigments and flame retardants). Presently such complex mixtures of plastic waste cannot be used for high-value technical applications. 

Clever Processing Concept for a Difficult Mixture 

In the „Poly-Ressource“ project a multi-stage technological concept will be developed that enables the recycling of genuine engineering plastics from shredder residues via a combination of mechanical and chemical processes. Poly-Ressource uses a mechanical post-shredder-treatment to optimize the material stream for the selective extraction of different plastic fractions. A solvent-based recycling process eliminates the impurities of the plastic fractions. For this step the CreaSolv® Process is applied that was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in co-operation with the CreaCycle GmbH. In the following the recycled polymers are conditioned and dried. 
The big challenge of the project lays in the integration of different technologies and the development of a sound concept for an industrial implementation by the participating companies. The individual processes will be optimized on a small technical scale, tested on industrial equipment and realized in a pilot plant. This unit is expected to save 85% of the energy consumed compared to the production of plastics from crude oil.    

Good Market Outlook for the Demand for High-Value Plastics

There is a high market potential for such an innovative process for the production of high-value plastics from plastic waste streams. If it is possible to commercialize the “Poly-Ressource” process on a large-scale, it would be possible to open up an European-wide market for the recycling of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP) and Polystyrene (PS) based plastics with a total market value of more than 2 Billion Euros. In the course of the project it is intended to integrate additional interested companies as co-operation partners.

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