Full Cycle Bioplastics
Innovation Prize Circular Materials Challenge winner
Circular Materials Challenge winner
Category 1: Make unrecyclable packaging recyclable
Aronax Technologies Spain proposes a magnetic additive that can be applied to a material, creating better air and moisture insulation – making it suitable to protect sensitive products such as coffee and medical products, while still being possible to recycleTransform a product or component into its basic materials or substances and reprocessing them into new materials..
The additive – small, plate-like particles of silicates and iron oxide – will provide plastics with much better abilities to block gases such as oxygen. This works in a similar way to how state-of-the-art aluminium coating does today in non-recyclable multilayer materials, but in smaller quantities. The additive can be used in both recyclable and compostable plastics. Two examples of where this material could replace multilayers are toothpaste tubes and food and drink pouches.
Because of the magnetic properties of the additive particles, they can make it easier to identify and separate the packaging at the recycling stage. In addition, thanks to their magnetism, the particles could potentially be recovered separately in the future, by melting or dissolving the packaging and retrieving a purified polymer, while collecting the particles to be used again.
David Espinosa, Consultant in Energy, Industry and Mining for the public sector
I have been recently working on a design of a novel type of surgical glove with a plate-like additive, similar to a scaled armour, to make it pierce-proof against needles. I realised that the same ‘armoured scale’ principle could be applied to the Circular Materials Challenge to replace aluminium as a barrier.
The plastics industry involves several processing steps and uses expensive equipment. This innovation has several advantages: • It is expected to use existing processing equipment without major adaptations • It allows mechanical separation and recycling, and could even enable separate recovery of the coating through a an additional process step • It uses only safe and common compounds • It can provide the insulation requirements necessary to replace multi-material laminates
There are many problems and influencing factors only known to those with experience in the industry. The accelerator programme will allow us to discuss these with experts and get their guidance on how to make the invention a commercial reality. Most challenges stop at the award phase, leaving the winners with some money and no further help on how to convert that idea into a product. I think the accelerator programme will partially fill the gap between a concept with an award and a commercial success.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We develop and promote the idea of a circular economy, and work with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally.
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