Currently there is a need to increase the efficiency of the plastic sector in the Valencian Community, both from an environmental and an economic point of view. In this sense, the circular economy is an opportunity as a new paradigm where waste is really resources and efficiency is the key point. But for the transformation of waste into resources to be a fact and not something intangible, a research support is necessary. For it, AIMPLAS is carrying out the Circular Economy project, backed by the IVACE, Valencian Institute of Valencian Competitiveness, which in its first year in 2017 already established the needs of the plastics sector in the Valencian Community and defined the strategies that its companies should follow. Possibilities for improving the properties and quality of recycled plastic, new applications, complementary valorisations to mechanical recycling and the biodegradation of plastics were investigated. In addition, environmental control protocols were developed and the results were transferred to companies in the sector and to end users.
In its second year, Circular Economy 2, recently approved by the IVACE and with the co-financing of the EU ERDF funds, within the ERDF Operational Program of the Valencian Community 2014-2020, it will mainly address issues related to ecodesign and environmental control, waste recovery and sustainable materials. Specifically, two main application actions will be carried out in the transformation and recycling industry: the one that will allow the separation of layers of multilayer plastic waste for recycling and the one that will analyze the biodegradation of plastic materials: speed of biodegradation, intermediate compounds and ecotoxicity.
Two research groups collaborate in Circular Economy 2 that will complement the research developed at AIMPLAS: the ECOTOX Group of the University of Vigo and the Functionalization, Degradation and Recycling of Polymeric Materials Research Group (DREMAP) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). This collaboration highlights the importance in the connection between companies, technological institutes and universities to facilitate the transfer of results.