MultiCycle’s 12-month meeting provided a sub-set of the MultiCycle participants with the valuable opportunity of visiting Spain’s most modern packaging sorting plant (of 95 in the country).

Located in Benidorm, the facility re-opened three month ago after substantial refurbishment. It sorts seven fractions based on a tailored combination of technologies including a preliminary stage of sieving to avoid the presence of organic material, following by ballistic, magnetic and eddy current and optical technologies as well as final manual quality control.

Among the different fractions, a special emphasis was placed on the flexible packaging which is core for MultiCycle. The partners were able to compare the Spanish case with other countries, which may have different number of fractions separated, and also sometimes films separated by type at the sorter level, and how this variability could influence the applicability of the process developed in the project.



In Spain, this sub-sorting is mainly done by recyclers in their own facilities and not directly in the sorting plants. Efforts to minimise refuse that would end up in landfill or incineration (especially as energy valorisation is not acknowledged as a recycling option) were also discussed, as well as potential new incentives that could arise when the EU legislation is enforced in more details nationally. It is expected that this visit, kindly organised with support from Ecoembes, the Spanish company in charge of the management of the household packaging, will act as a seed for further collaboration.

At the same time, a second group of MultiCycle delegates were being brought face to face with the practicalities of achieving materials recovery in the end of life phase of motor vehicles, courtesy of a visit to GBP Metals Group’s Xàtiva facility.

Here incoming end of life vehicles are carefully taken through a series of mechanical and chemical treatment and classification stages (fragmentation, cutting, crushing, shearing, manual separation, densimetric tables, flotation, induction currents, magnetization) in order to classify a range of material fractions of recoverable value, and facilitate onward transportation for further purification and ultimate reuse in the manufacture of further cycles of products. Whilst this is a well-established system for the recovery of ferrous and non-ferrous metals from the automotive cycle, the trend towards lighter vehicles, in which plastics substitute increasingly for metals in various aspects of vehicular construction and design, presents recyclers with a challenge, despite the undoubted environmental positive benefits of improved fuel economy during the use phase of the vehicle’s life cycle. Currently there is very little value obtainable for low quality/purity mechanically recovered plastics and therefore the best available options for the plastics-rich streams isolated during the materials recovery process are either (as is the case in Spain) responsible disposal to landfill or (in other parts of the EU with the relevant infrastructure) incineration with energy recovery.

The significant costs of landfill disposal on the one hand, and the limitations on thermal energy recovery as an option (for chlorinated polymers especially) makes neither of these options sustainable in the long term. There is an opportunity here for a positive contribution from the MultiCycle technology, which can be applied to problematic mixed plastic/plastic/metals fractions, separating these into mono-streams of optimized value. Given the high volume nature of vehicle production and disposal, the EU-wide opportunity is substantial.

Photo Credits: Elodie Bugnicourt, John Henderson, Luis Hoffmann, Jenny Rainbird, and Birgit Stubbe

In order to realise MultiCycle’s vision of leading the transition towards a sustainable post-petroleum society in the plastic sector and assist Europe in the transition towards a Circular Economy the consortium partners are working towards carefully planned post-project exploitation pathways.

Our aim is to reach the broadest audience possible, primarily though not exclusively across the EU, at both project level and at the relevant programme level. Communication and dissemination activities, led by Britest, and exploitation planning led by AXIA Innovation will be a catalyst for impact, with a strong emphasis upon commercial exploitation of the results arising as well as building momentum for the broader transformation towards a circular plastics economy for Europe.


MultiCycle has established a primary communication and dissemination vehicle in the shape of the Circular Plastics Helix as part of the broader CrowdHelix network, an Open Innovation network of more than 2,200 users supported by a technology platform which is open to applications from any organisation, of any size, anywhere in the world, that can demonstrate a strategic commitment to collaborative research and innovation. As well as disseminating the project’s results, the Helix aims to create a self-sustainable research and innovation community around the circular economy and plastics – taking in sustainable plastic value chains, circular economy, renewably sourced plastics, recycling and end of life valorisation – that will continue beyond the end of the project.

To find out more about the Circular Plastics Helix and how to join it please contact


As well as disseminating technical results and recommendations for further upscaling, MultiCycle is a delivering a training and capacity building programme for the current and future workforce in plastics recycling, and producing decision support systems and policy recommendations promoting waste management and resource efficiency improvements (through ISWA) for the target packaging and automotive applications.

Oversight of innovation management, covering a wide range of IPR protection, business planning and exploitation activities, is being handled by AXIA Innovation, in accordance with a comprehensive Plan of activities for the Exploitation and Dissemination of Results developed in consultation with the consortium partners. This will pave the way for the broadest possible post-project uptake of all tangible and intangible Key Exploitable Results (KERs) generated. The project is taking a proactive approach to IPR management and patent filing in particular, using a cross-consortium process facilitated by Inlecom to identify high priority innovations in order to secure at least two successful patent filings.

The emerging MultiCycle proposition will be thoroughly evaluated, not just at at the technical level, but for its sustainability in development and implementation across the board.

Led by specialists in the field at Vertech Group, environmental, social and economic assessments are being undertaken using recognized best practice approaches: Environmental Life Cycle Assessment  (LCA) to ISO 14040/14044 guidelines, Social LCA (S-LCA) for social and socio-economic aspects, and Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCC) of both capital and operations. The full details of the scope and system boundaries being applied to the project’s LCA, S-LCA and LCC assessments have now been established.

An integrated evaluation of the techno-economic-environmental feasibility of the proposed process and plant evaluated, will generate recommendations for future up-scaling and help inform policy recommendations.

To help overcome the challenge of complexity in multilayer plastics and fibre reinforced composites and stimulate steps towards a Circular Economy model, a strategic approach is required to improve recycling and foster reuse. A whole value chain based decision support tool will be be developed by AXIA Innovation based on an advanced multicriteria optimization model allowing

  • Development of efficient networks depending on plastic waste properties and characterization
  • Local circular business model opportunities and logistics stategies to be identfiied
  • Informed decision making about which circular paths to pursue based on simulating materials over several life cycles and trade offs between amounts recovered and performance.

MultiCycle is not just about demonstrating impressive new processing technology. Setting up the initial value chains, and raising industry acceptance and demand for more sustainable materials are also crucial to success, and this process begins with the demonstration of the potential of recovered materials in packaging and automotive applications.

Materials for Packaging Applications

Here a group of partners led by Amcor with substantial input from Fraunhofer IVV will be focusing on the use of the recycled plastics in new, easy-to-recycle packaging designs, based on material performance, cost and relevant regulatory considerations like food-use compliance.

The properties of materials arising from the MultiCycle pilot plant will be assessed relative to virgin benchmark materials. We will be producing single- and multi-layered packaging materials from the recovered plastics to evaluate their functional performance, once again in comparison to virgin-supply produced products, to  validate their quality for food and non-food packaging applications, and confirm their usability relative to applicable legislative and industrial requirements.

Materials for Automotive Applications

In parallel to the work on packaging applications, partners aligned to the automotive value chain, including FARPLAS,  TofaşSILONCentexbel and Bond Laminates, will be producing a variety of parts  – injection mouldings, textile nonwovens, carbon fibre reinforced composites – from the materials recovered by the MultiCycle pilot plant.

There will be work carried out to validate both the processability and resulting performance of the recycled materials in automotive applications when compared to the use of virgin materials, to confirm their usability for a range of industrial automotive applications. This will require upscaling of compounding process, and production and characterisation of textile nonwovens for the car interior, carbon and glass-fibre reinforced composite materials, and structural/semi-structural automotive parts.


At the heart of MultiCycle is the engineering, installation and commissioning of a CreaSolv® pilot plant, and the demonstration of its performance under optimal operation. The pilot plant will handle both composites and multilayer packaging found in currently non-recycled plastic waste mixed streams, recovering high quality recycled polymers and polymer free fibres in good yield for re-use in high end applications.

LÖMI GmbH will bring together their own expertise in high-quality and innovative process engineering systems and inputs from key technology partners, in particular Fraunhofer IVV and IRIS to integrate all the critical hardware engineering (rigs, pumps, filters, piping etc.) and software systems (PAT advanced sensing and monitoring) into a coherent whole process which will be installed and comprehensively commissioned to relevant ATEX, CE and ISO standards at a suitable production facility location.

Once operational, larger scale representative waste streams reflecting the output from best, average and worst-in-class sorting systems practice  in European will be treated in the pilot plant both to  validate the broad potential of the MultiCycle recycling pilot plan and to provide extensive large scale demonstration of the MultiCycle pilot recycling process for both multilayer packaging and fibre-reinforced composites.

At this stage, the materials recovered from treated waste will be characterized with respect to their application in plastic packaging, textiles and composites. This will involve effort from across the consortium, but particularly Centexbel.

Thermoplastic polymers will be assesed for their rheological and thermal behaviour, and their properties compared with virgin polymers designed for the envisaged reprocessing techniques, such as melt extrusion. Recycled carbon and glass fibres will be analysed for their mechanical and surface properties and compared to their primary manufactured counterparts by Centexbel and  Bond Laminates respectively. The residual sizing on the fibres (an important contributor to optimal fibre matrix adhesion) will also be determined. It is hoped that, with conditions suitably tuned, the CreaSolv® process will be able to selectively partly maintain the sizing on the fibres.

Since the materials with which we are working may have undergone some degradation during their previous working life (the CreaSolv® process itself does not lead to further downgrading), it may be expected that a degree of property “tuning” will be required if recycled thermoplastics are to be used for new applications via compounding.

Optimal additive approaches will be developed by AIMPLAS to i) protect polymers during compounding and processing and during their lifespan, ii) improve their processing behaviour, iii) increase melt strength and molecular weight, and iv) improve specific functional properties related to their end use. Wherever possible additives, additional compounds or fillers recovered from the Creasolv® process, will be considered for these roles, closing further material recovery and reuse loops.


Technical work is well underway to obtain and evaluate a wide selection of waste material streams representing the variety of material types which the MultiCycle pilot plant might be expected to handle, and to identify from this a broad window of suitable waste stream requirements within which economic and practical processing could take place.

Using their reach into the relevant supply and value chains, partners such as ArkemaBond LaminatesFARPLAS, and Amcor have secured numerous samples of both industrial scrap and post-consumer wastes and sent these back to a hub location at Fraunhofer IVV, the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging. Both laboratory characterization and experimentation on an existing CreaSolv® small-scale pilot plant is being used to parameterize the MultiCycle process, and to inform the design of a 25 kg/h scale, continuous pilot plant concept, including suitable monitoring systems for plastic waste composition tracking and process control being developed by IRIS Technology Group.

Trials at this stage will be dealing ultimately with representative, tailor-made samples of around 100 kg of targeted waste streams, which will be processed over multiple batches to allow testing of process stability and multiple use of recovered solvents. This will also enable the quality of recovered target polymers to be assessed and will provide samples for post-processing.

Work during the early months of the project has produced an up to date review of the technical and patent literature dealing with recycling processes for MultiCycle’s target multi-materials and established the specifications for the different processes involved in material recovery and reprocessing, providing an understand of the requirements of converters and end users in terms of properties, price etc. for the resulting secondary raw materials produced.

A review of the relevant literature and industry trends has been assembled which offers a broad view of the current state of play with respect to plastic waste generation and the current state of the art in recycling technology.

The regulatory drive to establish higher recycling targets means that the recycling sector must be developed in the coming years, however the current options for the MultiCycle target materials are limited: both multi-material/multi-layer flexible packaging and reinforced plastics in End of Life Vehicles (ELV) are predominantly sent for fuel/energy recovery.

In view of their limited recycling options, the growth of the Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP) market in both carbon and glass fibre reinforced materials, does not help in meeting the goals of the ELV Directive. This presents an opportunity for MultiCycle, and especially the CreaSolv® selective material recovery technology at the heart of the project, which has the potential to increase the recycling volume of multi-layer packaging and FRP, and to do so producing high quality recovered polymeric and other materials including fibres.

The regulatory drive to establish higher recycling targets combined with limited current recycling options for the relevant target materials presents an opportunity for MultiCycle.

Consideration of the solvent-based CreaSolv® process requirements has shown that these have a large share in the selection of the respective technical components. With the help of the installed pilot plant, the entire plant technology is to be achieved by a smooth up-scaling to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7. Furthermore critical process parameters that may influence the stable operation of the plant have been identified, and initial information provided on possible monitoring systems, and on which components of a motor vehicle can be used within the framework of the project to increase the recycling quota of ELVs.