The WhiteCycle consortium’s close team work is yielding very promising results toward its goal of producing the world’s first tyres, lay-flat hoses and clothing from the same waste-streams, which are very complex PET-containing, multi-material circular resources that remain as-yet unexploited.
For example, an innovative sorting process was developed in the project to separate PET fibres from rubber and the other components of end-of-life tyres and hoses. Shredded end of life hoses contain about 90% PET, and the developed sorting process concentrated this amount to 99.9% for a flux of about 1 kg/h of hose shreds. This same technique was also developed for the separation of fibres within shredded end-of-life tyres. Many different process set-ups were tested and enabled the team to concentrate fibres to 90% PET+PAfibres at about 1 kg/h scale from shredded tyres containing less than 20% of PET+PA fibres. Partners plan to confirm and further improve these preliminary results for hoses and tyres via further trials.
Meanwhile, IRIS tested several options for the identification of textile materials with bilayer and trilayer structures. Promising results were obtained, which enable the identification of both layers of all 25 bilayer samples tested except one. Some trilayer materials were also fully characterised via this same technique. Further testing is needed in order to validate to what extent this process could be viable for the identification of waste streams on an industrial scale. These initial trials will be completed by July 2023 enabling the selection of the best technique for upscaling to a pilot as the next step.
In terms of removal of hard-spots in clothing, heavy hard points were removed from clothing with automated system. The first results are promising, Synergies will optimize their process at Nouvelles Fibres Textiles by the end of the year.
In addition, partners were able to amorphise feedstocks from tyres, hoses and clothing at 500g scale via several innovative, industrially viable processes. The properties of the resulting secondary raw materials meet Carbios’s needs for subsequent depolymerisation.
In terms of FAIR data sharing and LCA, Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are an established means used by Michelin and other companies to inform the public on the environmental impacts of their products. The quantitative skeleton of these reports which are available from EPD International stems from Life-Cycle-Assessments. These reports provide extremely relevant info, but are only available in PDF format, creating a barrier towards automated data analysis across different reports. As a consequence, they are less useful for stakeholders who are interested in benchmarking. With the implementation of the WhiteCycle data management plan, we target making these reports machine actionable. It will result in a co-benefit for the project. HVL started guiding the consortium on how to make data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) for human and machines alike.
Finally, the consortium refined its critical path and joint action plan to achieve the world’s first closed loop recycling of PET from tyres, lay-flat hoses and multi-material clothing.
More exciting results are expected in September 2023 and beyond, so follow #WhiteCycle on social media, its website and its newsletter.