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We lead the NEOPLAST 2 project to generate valuable products through the chemical recycling of plastic waste.

The NEOPLAST2 project is researching the basis to provide the Basque industrial sector with ways of closing the cycles of plastic materials by applying chemical recycling technologies, treating their waste and generating valuable products.

The GAIKER Technology Centre, a member of the Basque Research & Technology Alliance, BRTA, is the coordinator of the NEOPLAST 2 project whose objective is to carry out research to develop, improve and adapt chemical recycling processes that facilitate the conversion of different plastic waste into high quality resources, capable of meeting the specifications demanded by the most demanding secondary raw material markets. The aim is to generate knowledge so that the industrial secor can make a better, more sustainable and circular use of plastic materials.

Improving the management of plastic waste has become a global requirement because of its impact on people, ecosystems and the natural environment. Chemical recycling has been confirmed as part of the solution, both to make use of plastic waste that is difficult or unfeasible to recycle by conventional mechanical means, and to obtain chemically recycled products that are virtually indistinguishable from the initial raw materials.

The NEOPLAST 2 project, which is currently addressing the product generation and quality improvement phases, was set up to research and develop different chemical recycling processes to their full extent. In particular, work is being carried out to increase the selectivity of solvolysis reactions of plastic consisting of condensation polymers or of pyrolysis and gasification processes of plastic mixtures, and also to define adsorption or extraction operations that succeed in purifying substances and fractions, such as monomers or oils, to demonstrate that it is possible, feasible and environmentally beneficial to produce new chemically recycled plastics.

Funded by the Basque Government, through its ELKARTEK collaborative research grant programme in 2023-2024, the NEOPLAST 2 project (Ref. KK-2020/00107), in addition to the GAIKER technology centre leading it, includes the participation of four other Basque technological agents, the Chemical Engineering Department and the Chemical Engineering and Environment Department of the UPV/EHU, TECNALIA and POLYMAT, which put forward their knowledge to convert plastic waste into products by thermochemical and solvolytic means combined with catalysis, process control, product purification or chemical synthesis.

Thanks to this research GAIKER, a reference in mechanical and chemical recycling, with extensive experience in waste characterisation and treatment, obtaining products, designing recycling schemes and scaling operations and processes, will have the full knowledge to understand and effectively apply chemical recycling by catalytic solvolysis. Specifically, by converting polyester (PET) and polyurethane (PU) waste, controlling reaction parameters and conditions and improving the grade of the resulting products, it will generate monomers and chemical products with high added value by achieving grades for the most demanding applications, such as the synthesis of new resins.

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