Boulogne-Billancourt, France — A consortium of 18 European organizations, including Michelin Group, have launched a major initiative to process hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, including composite industrial waste and multilayer clothes.
Coordinated by Michelin, the WhiteCycle project launched July 1 and aims to develop a circular economy to convert "complex waste containing textile made of plastic into products with high added value."
By 2030, the 10 million euro project's ambition is to develop capacity to recycle more than 2 million metric tons of PET, the third most widely used plastic in the world, Michelin said in a July 5 news release.
The initiative aims to chemically process composite industrial waste containing textiles and other components from tires, hoses and multilayer clothes at the end of the product life cycle.
As part of this, the consortium will establish new processes for the various steps in the value chain, including sorting technologies that make it possible to "considerably increase" the plastic content of complex waste streams.
The project will also develop a "pre-process" for recuperated plastic, followed by "a very innovative" recycling process using an enzyme to sustainably disintegrate the pre-processed plastic into pure monomers.
The process will end with a repolymerization stage, which will produce "like-new" plastics, to be used in the production of tires, hoses and clothes.
Funded by the Horizon Europe programme, WhiteCycle is based in five countries: France, Spain, Germany, Norway and Turkey.
Among other academic and research participants, the project involves three industrial partners, Michelin, Mandals, Inditex; two waste management companies, Synergie TLC, Estato; one intelligent sorting company Iris; one biological recycling company Carbios; one PET plastic processing plant by Kordsa and one product life cycle analysis company i-Point.