Developing the market for recycled plastics

Man holding recycled building materials

The vision of a circular plastics system and a pollution free environment will require extensive collaboration, innovation, system changes and significant financing to fulfil.

New legislations, regulations and directives will come into force and change the current “take-make-usedispose” economy into a net-zero and circular economy.

One of these measures is the EU Plastic Bags Directive, which states that countries should either introduce a national reduction target for lightweight plastic carrier bags, or ensure that these bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products. As the plastic carrier bags serves as an important part of the waste management system in Norway, it was opted for the latter.

To provide a solution, the largest actors in the Norwegian grocery, retail and trade sectors, established the Norwegian Retailers’ Environment Fund – Handelens Miljøfond (HMF), to ensure that from every plastic bag sold, approx. 5 € cents (50 øre) is collected in a fund and earmarked to reduce the environmental issues due to plastics. The fund, being privately owned, is not bound by bureaucracy or public rules and regulations and is able to turn around quickly in urgent matters, and to take risks in order to achieve desired environmental results.

The fund finances both national and international initiatives aimed at reducing and preventing plastic pollution e.g. through clean-up projects and support for technology and innovation. The fund’s stated goals are threefold: 1) Prevent and clean up plastic pollution, not least in relation to marine littering 2) Reduce the use of plastic carrier bags 3) Increase resource efficiency by supporting measures to increase plastic recycling. Since 2018, the fund has awarded more than 40 M€ to a variety of 400 projects, covering clean-ups, closing knowledge gaps and technology development, which can accelerate the transition to a circular plastics economy.

Norwegian Government’s view is that this financial mechanism serves as a sufficiently effective measure to meet the national obligations in the EU Directive 2015/720 on lightweight plastic carrier bags, but that it also provides a double impact making a significant and lasting difference to the environment.

Norner has the last years been collaborating with the Retailers Environmental Fund to explore how plastic recycling can be increased and how the use of recycled materials can be implemented in the industry. The different reports are publicly available and describes how Norway can achieve 50% plastic recycling of all plastic waste within 2025 and how a zero waste and circular plastic economy in Norway can be achieved.

We also take part in many of the industry projects which is supported by the fund, where our insight in polymers, plastic conversion, recycling and laboratory capabilities are utilized.

One of these exciting projects is with ISOLA, where the target is to use post-consumer HDPE and PP to protect building constructions for more than 50 years – giving value and long life to recycled plastics.

Isola Case

The Norwegian company ISOLA AS is a major producer of building products to the Nordic market, with many wellknown brands. One of the production lines, former Platon factory, at the city of Notodden, is producing floorand foundation wall membranes by extrusion and thermo forming.

SOLA and Norner collaborate in the project, which is financially supported by the HMF, with the goal of establishing recycled HDPE and PP as a major feedstock for the foundation wall plate products.

Different providers of recycled plastics are invited to qualify materials for the production. Norner support ISOLA with processing evaluation, laboratory test data, pilot scale extrusion trials as well as guidance to different aspects of product quality and follow-up.

The project is ongoing with ambitious milestones in 2022. Hopefully the results in the project can ensure safe utilization of recycled materials on the kiloton scale and open other product groups for recycled plastics as feedstock.

Taking actions together to boost the EU market for recycled plastics

To reach the European ambitions of plastic recycling and increased use of recycled materials collective actions are required.

Norner has therefore joined the Circular Plastics Alliance, which aims to boost the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes by 2025. The Circular Plastics Alliance is an initiative under the European Strategy for Plastics where voluntary pledges by the industry are made to produce and use an increased volume of recycled plastics. At Norner we support the suppliers of recyclates to increase the quality of their materials and the converters and end-user to successfully introduce recyclates in the products.

To reach the European ambitions of plastic recycling and increased use of recycled materials collective actions are required.

Norner has therefore joined the Circular Plastics Alliance, which aims to boost the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes by 2025. The Circular Plastics Alliance is an initiative under the European Strategy for Plastics where voluntary pledges by the industry are made to produce and use an increased volume of recycled plastics. At Norner we support the suppliers of recyclates to increase the quality of their materials and the converters and end-user to successfully introduce recyclates in the products.

To reach the target, the analysis by the Circular Plastics Alliance shows that over 80% of the increase in recycled plastics should come from packaging, the remainder from other sectors like agriculture, construction, automotive and electrical and electronics.

The current state-of-play shows that the European sorting capacities needs to increase by at least 4.2 million tonnes by 2025 and recycling capacities by at least 3.8 million tonnes.

The installed recycling capacity is already 8.5 Mt but not fully utilized. Projects like this with ISOLA bring important contribution because it will push for not only volume but also high quality. The Circular Plastics Alliance regularly updates its roadmap in cooperation with all interested stakeholders and authorities, and we certainly welcome our partners to join the alliance and committing to action.

COLLIN MULTILAYER FILM AND SHEET LINE

Norner has recently invested in a state-of-the art pilot scale 7-layer film line from renowned market leader COLLIN Lab & Pilot Solutions. This multi-functional line is capable of producing from 1 to 7 layers of blown and cast films of width up to 550 mm, and is designed to allow production of symmetrical films consisting of a range of different material types, including barrier and tie layers. The line will be installed in Norner’s new Polymer Exploration Centre in the beginning of 2022 and will strengthen Norner’s position as a leading polymer R&D and Process Application Development Centre.

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