Speaker insights from TNO

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About Chemical Recycling 

Ahead of the Chemical Recycling conference we took the opportunity to gather industry insights from our speakers.

We spoke to them about the lessons learned through chemical recycling, EU legislation, challenges, common misconceptions and what they will be speaking about at the Chemical Recycling conference in September.  

27 -28  September 2021

Düsseldorf, Germany

 

Rajesh Mehta
Senior Consultant, Climate, Air &
Sustainability
TNO

AMI’s Chemical Recycling 2021 Conference will address the various challenges and opportunities in the chemical recycling market and bring together experts from across the supply chain to discuss the latest trends and developments in this dynamic market.

Key areas of focus include global market trends, the variety of technologies, outputs and processes available, and how the industry can work together to integrate chemical recycling into the waste hierarchy as a viable process on an industrial scale. This conference will be a fantastic opportunity to engage with key industry players at an event that encourages discussion, debate and ideas sharing.

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Rajesh Mehta
Senior Consultant, Climate, Air &
Sustainability
TNO  

Presentation: 

Evaluating circularity potential of various recycling technologies for biocomposites waste from the aircraft industry

Hi there, My name is Rajesh Mehta and I am a senior consultant at TNO advising companies and policy makers on circular economy and decarbonization.


What is the most important lesson you have learned through your work on chemical recycling? 

Aviation industry contributes to approximately 12% of the CO2 emissions of the global transportation sector. Around 2% of human-produced CO2 emissions come from aviation.  

The application of biocomposites in the aircraft industry can bring significant environmental benefits compared to conventional materials and composites. Use of biocomposites in aircraft components can help reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 

Unlike the conventional composites, biobased composites are partly or fully derived from renewable resources. 

However, sustainable management solutions for biocomposite waste are still far from being a reality. Since the recycling technologies for biocompsite are not ready yet at the commercial scale. The recycling technologies has not caught up with recent advancements in biocomposites. 

Project ELIOT aims to bridge this gap. In this EU sponsored research and development project, we will develop innovative technologies at lab and pilot scale for recycling of biocomposite waste from the aircraft industry. The main goal of this project is to perform a full-scale demonstration of two most promising EoL recycling technologies for the biocomposite waste. 

As part of our research, we did comprehensive evaluation of 12 EoL recycling technologies, including mechanical and chemical recycling. Out of these 12 EOL recycling technologies, we  identified four promising technologies for further development based on two important parameters - circularity potential  and technology readiness level. The circularity potential criteria itself have quality and form of recovered products and their potential applications imbedded into it. The four promising technologies we shortlisted are solvolysis, dissolution, mechanical recycling, and pyrolysis.

How does EU legislation support or hinder the development of chemical recycling technologies? 

European Union supports the efforts to develop new complementary recycling technologies for plastics and composites. The EU Commission considers chemical recycling as a promising way of dealing with plastic waste, but it is cautious at the same time because the technology still under development and is energy intensive1. On a broader level, the EU commission see chemical recycling as a solution to accelerate the circular economy and the EU strategic industrial autonomy.

1 https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/chemical-recycling-should-be-seen-as-a-last-resort-eu-official-says/ 

Project ELIOT is a EU sponsored project under the Horizon 2020 program. The demonstrated technologies under the project ELIOT will be picked up by the industry stakeholders.

What challenges remain to developing chemical recycling at scale?

Globally many chemical recycling technologies are under development and look promising. However, businesses and decision makers do not know which chemical recycling technologies are the winning solutions to place their strategic bets on. The long development time and challenges associated with complex interaction of chemical and collection/sorting infrastructure impede the development and widespread adoption of chemical recycling.

What common misconceptions do people have about advanced / chemical recycling? How can these be addressed?

Common misconceptions that people have on chemical recycling is that chemical recycling is similar to energy recovery. Other misconception is that chemical recycling is in direct competition with mechanical recycling. This is not true. Chemical recycling of plastics and composites is complementary to mechanical recycling and both solutions are required to achieve circular economy goals. 

Also, lack of awareness or willingness to engage on developing chemical recycling solutions / infrastructure is also a challenge.

You will be speaking at the Chemical Recycling Conference 2021, could you give us a little preview on what you will be talking about?

In the 2021 Chemical Recycling Conference, I will present our multi-criteria assessment methodology, and insights on the four promising technology options for biocomposites recycling. I will also highlight technology development and mainstreaming challenges associated with individual recycling technologies. 

Finally, I am looking forward to learn from  my co-speakers and participants to address the challenges on recycling technologies and supply chain for complex multi-material waste streams.