In the first project phase, two processes were completed: an update of the state of the art for technologies dealing with pulper waste and the printing activity of heterogeneous plastics in the presence of impurities.
During this activity, tests of pulper waste treatment technology have been carried out to separate the flow of materials (cellulose, water, plastics, metals) and agglomeration / densification and mixing of the obtained plastic material.
Mixed plastic obtained by the pulper waste separation treatment
At industrial plants of external suppliers, preliminary tests of printing on heterogeneous plastic pallets were also performed.
Based on the results of the previous activities, the executive design and execution of the prototype line on industrial scale manufacturing has been realized and is currently being assembled and tested.
Pallet molding prototype line
In particular, the execution of pallet molds has been completed, with subsequent testing.
Heterogeneous plastic pallet mold
The start-up of the experimentation process, fine tuning of the machines and the processing phase, which is the culminating step of the project, is scheduled for July 2017.
During this activity, some sessions will be planned for analyzing chemical and physical characteristics of the plastic blends developed from the pulper waste, and testing of the performances of the produced pallets.
Particularly important is the validation phase of the pallets under real conditions of use, which is necessary to demonstrate their performance and the overall life expectancy.
In this regard, cooperation agreements have already been signed with VERSALIS Spa and pallet pooler PRS srl, for the use of pallets in their company logistic circuits, with both road and rail handling.
One of the first samples of pallets produced during the mold testing
Life Cycle Assessment
In collaboration with Bocconi University in Milan, the Life Cycle Assessment - LCA analysis was launched to assess the environmental impacts of the entire lifecycle of new pallets.
The analysis, whose results are expected at the end of 2017, includes all stages of the life cycle of the new product as well as a comparison with the impacts of traditional wooden pallets. The analyzed life cycle includes raw material procurement, production process, distribution and utilization (including reuse and maintenance), recycling and final disposal.
For the industrial development of the project, a detailed business plan has been realized on a 3-year base, which involves the realization of 3 entire production lines with a production capacity of approximately 1,200,000 pallets per year, corresponding to 75,000 tons per year of pulper waste. The business plan includes investment costs in plant, operating costs and a sales plan, as well as market analysis and financial flows.
Communication and dissemination of results
Since the launch of the project, various communication actions have been carried out to spread our virtuous model of circular economy and industrial symbiosis on a local and European scale.
These activities include a large-scale permanent dissemination action as well as policy actions and consensus building activities on this topic of great relevance.
Some of the main actions taken are described below.
The first LIFE ECO-PULPLAST project workshop took place on 30 September 2016 in Capannori (Lucca). It focused on the theme of circular economy and plastic waste management.
The workshop had a great relevance and participation and besides facilitating the dissemination of project activities (approach and solutions), it was an important opportunity to foster stakeholder engagement and exchange of views and experiences among participants.
The second annual workshop is scheduled on 22 September 2017.
Meeting at MISE – Ministry for Economic Development
Two meetings were held with representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of the Environment, aimed at illustrating the objectives of the project. The head of the project Selene presented the scenarios of the industrial development of the project, which would provide a decisive contribution to the solution of the problem of waste pulp disposal, and a strong impetus to the development of technologies for the recycling of heterogeneous plastics.
TV and Radio broadcasts
RAI 1 - SPECIALE TG1 dedicated the TV show on 5 February 2017, titled "Recycling", to the theme of urban solid waste management in Italy and Europe, in relation to the new European directives. The broadcast has given great prominence to the LIFE ECO-PULPLAST project. See it here.
Interview on RAI Radio1, in the "Manuale d'Europa" radio program conducted by Tiziana Di Simone and Michele Cucuzza, on the episode of March 12, 2016. See it here.