Twenty European partners, led by ITENE (the Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Centre), are working to reinvent the plastic packaging treatment process, making recycling more accessible, cost-effective and profitable for both citizens and professionals in the field.

The project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, will rethink the different phases involved in transforming waste into valuable products: from the development of smart containers for separate waste collection to the improvement of transport routes and sorting technologies.

Through ambitious pilot projects in three European cities: Valencia in Spain, Utrecht in the Netherlands, and Alba Iulia in Romania, PlastiCircle aims to increase the volume of plastic waste that residents recycle, improve the quality of that waste, and make waste transport to the sorting plants more efficient. It is also targeting improved sorting and recycling processes so that all the packaging waste collected from the pilot cities can be used to produce a raft of added-value recycled products for the housing, automotive and residential sectors. And with these three cities hosting PlastiCircle pilots in 2019, the race is on for good results.

Residents of all ages and backgrounds have been signing up for the PlastiCircle project. This means a quick and free online registration to obtain a personal smart card. These cards can be used at one of 25 yellow rubbish containers dotted around the neighbourhood – the so-called “smart containers” that recognise the user ID and print a unique label on the spot for that person’s rubbish bag. This way, residents are not only encouraged to effectively sort their plastic waste, but when they throw their bags away at their local containers, they do so in the knowledge that they will later be rewarded with a range of incentives and rewards established in collaboration with the municipality. Even before the waste reaches the sorting or recycling stages, PlastiCircle is giving a new dimension to household waste treatment.

And even waste transport is changing. With the use of an Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform and optimised collection routes, drivers of waste collection trucks are saving time, costs and CO2 emissions. Yet another innovation that the project will be rolling out in Utrecht and Alba Iulia when the Valencia pilot finishes in September.

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