The overall objective of the LIFE ECO-PULPLAST project is to progressively reduce to zero the amount of paper mills' pulper waste sent to landfill and incinerators. In order to reach this goal, the technical and economic feasibility of an innovative technology to recycle pulper waste into new plastic compounds and products will be demonstrated during the project lifetime, with the realization and testing of a demonstration production line especially designed for the characteristics and peculiarities of pulper waste.
The main idea behind this project is to realize plastic euro-pallets to be reused by the same paper district that generates the material waste in the first place and creating local Circular Economy, which is one main goals of the European environmental strategy for the next decades.
Thanks to the local products manufacturing and reuse, the project also aims at reducing the environmental impact due to the current transportation of pulper waste to incinerators and landfills and the related disposal’s impacts.
In addition, by replacing common wooden euro-pallets, that require a high consumption of raw natural materials, with reusable plastic pallets from recovered waste materials, the project addresses the European strategy towards an efficient use of resources.
More specifically, the project aims at demonstrating that pulper waste can be used as main input material in the new compounds, by using a simple and low energy consuming mechanical process that does not require a washing phase or the removal of the residual fibers from the plastic materials and not even a selection phase of the different polymers composing the pulper waste mixed plastics.
A further objective of the LIFE ECO-PULPLAST project concerns the working method. The project, in fact, is promoted in synergy by different entities: industrial and technological partners working side by side with environmental organizations, all aiming at a common goal.
In order to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the technology at industrial level and to reach its objectives, LIFE ECO-PULPLAST project aims at meeting the following results:
- high percentage of pulper waste used in the new compounds;
- high level of productivity of the prototype line;
- low processing and manufacturing energy requirements;
- high production efficiency (low residual waste);
- production of plastic pallets with the required physical/mechanical properties (in compliance to technical regulations);
- dissemination of the project approach and outcomes to other paper mills at local and European level;
- involvement of main relevant stakeholders at regional, national and European level.
The achievements of the above results and the successful completion of the project will create the suitable conditions for an industrial production of new plastic pallets by recycling pulper waste, with a concurrent reduction of the amount of pulper waste sent to landfills and incinerators and of the related environmental impacts and CO2 emissions.
The prototype line will be used after the project end date to develop new, further optimized, compounds and plastic products for a future market outlet.
The involvement of local and regional stakeholders (local authorizes, Regione Toscana, Industrialists’ association, environmental associations, etc.) will allow to create all required social and regulatory conditions to realize on the Lucca territory a full scale industrial plant, based on the business plan elaborated during the project, and to create a local production chain connected to the recycling of paper mills industrial waste.
Finally, the LIFE ECO-PULPLAST will elaborate a business model and provide recommendations and guidelines to facilitate the transferability of the project approach and solutions to other national and European paper mills, thus promoting a nearly-zero waste paper industry.