A €2.9 million project aimed at tackling plastic packaging pollution has been launched by Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS).
The PerPETual project, which received €1.8 million in funding through the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, aims to reduce landfill and incineration of waste plastic by creating a technology that will allow polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics to be continually recycled.
The project is led by researchers at TUS, in partnership with UCC, AvonCourt Packaging Ltd and Novelplast Teoranta, to develop a permanent recycling technology for all grades of PET to convert them into valuable resources.
Both industry partners have provided combined funding of over one million euro towards the project.
PET plastic, which is made from fossil fuels, is a clear, strong plastic found in everyday packaging, such as drinking bottles and fresh food tubs and trays.
High quantities of this widely used plastic ends up in landfill, incinerators and as an environmental pollutant, as a viable process for remaking PET plastics from waste PET at scale, is not available.
TUS’s lead researcher of the PerPETual project, Dr Margaret Brennan Fournet, said, “We are thrilled to progress our amazing technologies for the continuous depolymerisation and remaking of PET without the need for further fossil fuel extraction, which will be key to eliminating the impact on the environment and to ensuring prosperity for future generations.
“The PerPETual project will be highly disruptive for a number of the sectors including food, energy, climate action and sustainability, manufacturing, materials, business services and processes and will significantly alter the way we work, live and innovate for a low carbon, resource neutral, sustainable plastics future.”
Imelda Lambkin, Disruptive Technologies Department manager, Enterprise Ireland, said, “The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a vital tool for enabling Irish enterprise and research sectors to find solutions and positive contributions to the low carbon and sustainability targets in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.
“The PerPETual project, led by the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest and partners, UCC, AvonCourt Packaging Ltd and Novelplast Teoranta will future-proof Ireland to ensure that we become leaders in the development of disruptive technologies, and has the potential to transform the plastics industry, by drastically reducing the amount of fresh petroleum extracted virgin material used, and positioning PET recyclate as a valuable, perpetually reusable resource.
“The project will deliver substantial changes and benefits across many areas of society and DTIF’s investment in this high-risk, high-reward project re-affirms the Irish government’s belief in the capability of Irish enterprises to work together and with research institutions on projects that have the potential to fundamentally alter technology and our society.”