LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU

 
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE III

LIFE and waste recycling
Innovative waste management options in Europe
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
European Commission
Environment Directorate-General

LIFE (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment”) is a programme launched by the European Commission and coordinated
by the Environment Directorate-General (LIFE Unit - BU-9 02/1).

The content of the publication “LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe” does not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the institutions of the European Union.

Authors: Nora Schiessler, Ed Thorpe, Wendy Jones, Leigh Philips. Editorial department: Eamon O’Hara (Astrale GEIE-AEIDL).
Managing editor: Philip Owen (European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE Unit). LIFE Focus series coordination: Simon
Goss (DG Environment, LIFE Communications Coordinator), Evelyne Jussiant (DG Environment, Communications Coordinator).
Graphic design: Daniel Renders, Anita Cortés. Production: Monique Braem.� The following people also worked on this issue:
Remo Savoia, Rosalinde Van der Vlies, Liga Blanka, Evija Brante, Pekka Hänninen, Zsuzsanna Kocsis-Kupper, Donald Lunan,
Laura Nocentini, Claudia Pfirrmann, Katerina Raftopoulou, Mariona Salvatella, Gabriela Staicu, Peter Vissers. Acknowledge-
ments: Thanks to all LIFE project beneficiaries who contributed comments, photos and other useful material for this report.
Photos: Cover: LIFE00 ENV/D/000318, LIFE00 ENV/GR/000688, LIFE00 ENV/IT/000223, LIFE 99/TCY/CY/041. Inside: From the
respective projects unless otherwise specified – This issue of LIFE Focus is published in English with a print-run of 5,000 copies
and is also available online.

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ISBN 978-92-79-07397-7
ISSN 1725-5619

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Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe          I   p. 

                                                                Klaus Kögler
                                                                Head of Unit - Sustainable Production &
                                                                Consumption
                                                                Directorate-General for the Environment
                                                                European Commission

For more than 30 years, efforts to reduce and avoid the negative impacts of waste on the environment and human
health have been central to EU environment policy. Significant progress has been made based on the principle of the
waste hierarchy that prioritises waste prevention and sees landfill generally as the least favourable waste manage-
ment option for the environment.

Heavily polluting landfills and incinerators are being cleaned up. Re-use, recycling and energy recovery are being
applied to regulated wastes. The diversion of biodegradable waste from landfills is an important contribution to
limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, while recycling and re-use are increasing, overall amounts of waste are still
growing, increasing demand for primary resources and stress on eco-systems.

This unsustainable trend reveals that, despite all progress achieved, the challenges for waste policy are still mounting
and a lot still needs to be done. The new EU ‘”Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste’” sets out
the objectives and means by which the EU can further improve the management of waste and make better use of its
material and energy resources. A closely related revision of the “Waste Framework Directive” will be voted on in the
European Parliament and in the European Council in the coming months.

In this context, now is an opportune moment to consider what promising and encouraging best practices already
exist. The more than 290 waste-related projects co-financed since 1992 under the European Commission’s LIFE
(Financial Instrument for the Environment) programme reveal some of the ways in which Europe’s waste management
challenge can be successfully tackled.

This LIFE-Focus brochure on “LIFE and waste recycling. Innovative waste management options in Europe” is there-
fore published at just the right time. It presents 20 projects, which represent a small but valuable selection of the
numerous successful waste-related LIFE initiatives that support the EU’s evolving waste policy. Covering the wide
range and scope of activities carried out over the years, these projects not only refer to solutions to waste as a prob-
lem, but also to opportunities to see waste as a valuable resource for industry, generating jobs and businesses.

The projects serve to highlight some of the key principles around which European environment policy is built. They
underline the value of information sharing and exchange and have the potential to contribute to the European Union’s
long term vision: to become a recycling society that seeks to avoid waste and uses waste as a resource.

Klaus Kögler
Head of Unit - Sustainable Production & Consumption
Directorate-General for the Environment
European Commission
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
Foreword.................................1     Waste oils....................... 23            End-of-life vehicles ........ 41
  The aim: Moving towards                          ICOL: Driving up waste                          SuperRubber: Turning used
  improved waste                                   lube oil recycling rates in                     tyres into football pitches ....42
  management...........................3           Greece...................................24
                                                                                                   RENOFAP: Pioneering
  EU waste strategy and                            Used Oil’s Highway:                             the treatment and re-use
  legislation ...............................4     Romania’s first ever                            of diesel particulate filters.....45
                                                   management system for
  LIFE: Support for an evolving                                                                    KYPROS: Sustainable
                                                   waste oil ...............................27
  EU waste policy......................9                                                           management of end-of-life
                                                   DOL-EL: Recovery of base                        vehicles in Cyprus . ..............46
Packaging and plastic                              oil fractions from used
waste ............................. 11             oil lubricants..........................28    Hazardous waste............. 47
  Paperfoam: The “baked                                                                            Picked: Reducing nitrate
                                                 Waste from the
  potato” reinvented as                                                                            discharges from the steel
  sustainable packaging..........12
                                                 construction and                                  industry ................................48
                                                 demolition sector............ 29
  AFM: Cleaner, safer water                                                                        PERCUS: Recovering
  filtration, thanks to recycled                   Recdemo: Concrete and                           valuable raw materials from
  glass bottles..........................14        compost from recycled                           spent alkaline etchant .........52
                                                   demolition waste . ................30
  WPC-Recycle: ‘Greener’ out-
  door products from recycled                      PAROC-WIM: Innovative
                                                   waste recycling in the                          Further projects focussing
  thermoplastic waste . ...........16
                                                   stone wool industry...............32            on recycling, re-use and
                                                                                                   recovery...............................51
Organic and                                        EQuation: Linking life-cycle
biodegradable waste . .... 17                      assessment to sustainable                       List of available LIFE
                                                   building.................................34     publications...........................53
  RECASH: Recycling ash
  to enhance the sustainability                                                                    Information on LIFE .............54
  of biofuel production
                                                 Waste electrical and
  from wood.............................18       electronic equipment...... 35
  Bio Waste: Increasing                            HEATSUN: Pioneering the
  the composting of household                      management of IT waste
  bio-waste in Latvia . .............21            in Dublin................................36

  ECOFILTER: Reducing                              SUMANEWAG: A major
  ammonia emissions and                            advance for e-waste
  odours from composting......22                   management in Greece.........39
                                                   PIRR: New benchmarks in
                                                   the recycling of dangerous
                                                   technological waste .............40
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe                               I    p. 

The aim: Moving towards
improved waste management
The objectives of EU waste policy are to reduce the negative impact of waste on the environment
and public health and to ensure the most efficient use of resources, particularly natural resources.
Towards these goals, it aims to improve and strengthen measures to prevent the disposal of
waste and promote its re-use, recycling or recovery.

The challenges

Every production process generates
some form of waste and all material
placed on the market is destined to
become waste at one time or another.
This has already resulted in ever
growing waste mountains. Each year
1.3 billion tonnes of non-agricultural
waste is generated in the European
Union - some 58 million tonnes of
                                            European Commission

which is hazardous. This amounts to
a yearly average of 570kg of waste
production for every man, woman
and child in the EU-15 (300-350kg in
the EU-10).                                                        Waste volumes are increasing at rates equalling and sometimes outpacing economic
                                                                   growth
Waste represents an enormous loss of
resources in the form of both materials                           The objectives                             resource management - environ-
and energy. In addition, waste manage-                                                                       mental policy needs to ensure that
ment itself creates environmental dam-                            The significant and growing envi-          any negative environmental impact
age. Of the total waste generated in the                          ronmental, social and economic             is minimised throughout the entire
EU, 31% is currently landfilled, 42% is                           challenges presented by waste              life-cycle of resources. Life-cycle
recycled, 6% is incinerated with energy                           explain why the EU’s 6th Environ-          thinking is also being introduced
recovery and 21% is unaccounted for.                              ment Action Programme identifies           into waste policy. Furthermore, more
Landfilling and incineration contribute                           waste as one of its top four priori-       ambitious waste prevention policies
to pollution of the air, water and soil                           ties. This EU-level work is based on       and re-use of products and compo-
as well as noise and other nuisances.                             three principles: waste prevention;        nents can also contribute to avoiding
Furthermore, the economic costs of                                recycling and re-use; and improving        the negative environmental impact
municipal waste and hazardous waste                               final disposal and monitoring.             from the extraction of primary raw
management alone amount to around                                                                            materials and their transformation in
€75 billion a year.                                               There have been waste policy               production processes.
                                                                  successes, including increases in
Waste is not just a serious problem; it                           recycling and reductions in dioxin         For the EU, improving waste manage-
is also a growing problem. Between                                emissions from municipal waste             ment is about becoming an economi-
1990 and 1995 - in the EU-25 - waste                              incinerators. However, the greater         cally and environmentally efficient
generation rose 10% compared to a                                 increases in waste generation mean         recycling society that seeks to avoid
GDP increase of only 6.5%. Munici-                                that the EU still has the challenge        waste, or, where this is impossible, to
pal waste is the single fastest grow-                             of decoupling the use of resources         use it as a resource.. Supported with
ing waste stream; it increased by 19%                             and the generation of waste from           high environmental standards, this will
between 1995 and 2003. The Joint                                  the rate of economic growth.               ensure the protection of human health
Research Centre predicts that 42.5%                                                                          and the environment against the
more waste could be generated in                                  An important tool to guide European        harmful effects of waste and enable
2020 compared to 1995.                                            efforts is the life-cycle approach to      sustainable economic growth.
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
EU waste strategy and legislation
                        In the face of the growing challenges posed by waste generation, treatment and disposal, the EU
                        has placed waste management at the heart of its environment strategy. It has called for specific
                        efforts on the prevention and recycling of waste and the sustainable use of resources. EU legis-
                        lation has been adopted since the mid-1970s to provide a framework for action by the Member
                        States towards the overall objective of improved waste management.
??????
LIFE04 ENV/FIN/000299

                        The key objective of the Thematic Strategy on waste prevention and recycling is to make Europe a real recycling society.

                        Strategy                                      The ‘worst’ options are identified as          and management of wastes’ as one
                                                                      the use of landfill and incineration           of its four priorities. The objective
                        The EU strategy for waste manage-             without energy recovery. This order            is to ensure that the consumption
                        ment, adopted in 1989 and reviewed            of preference is known as the ‘waste           of renewable and non-renewable
                        in 19961, refers to prevention, re-use        hierarchy’.                                    resources does not exceed the carry-
                        and recovery, optimisation of final                                                          ing capacity of the environment and
                        disposal, and regulation of trans-            The environment action pro-                    to achieve a decoupling of resource
                        port as strategic guidelines for the          grammes (EAP) represent the EU’s               use from economic growth through
                        management of waste in Europe.                tool to define the priorities and objec-       significantly improved resource effi-
                        The document specifies that waste             tives of European environment policy           ciency and waste reduction.
                        management should first of all aim at         and to describe measures to be taken
                        preventing waste generation. If that is       to help implement its sustainable              The 6th EAP specifically targets a
                        not possible, material waste recycling        development strategy. The 6th EAP2             20% reduction in the quantity of
                        and the incineration of waste with            - adopted in 2002 - established ‘the           waste going to final disposal by 2010
                        energy recovery should be pursued.            sustainable use of natural resources           and a 50% reduction by 2050. To this
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe                                 I   p. 

aim, it defines several actions, such         Framework legislation                                           be taken during transportation. Pro-
as the improvement of existing waste                                                                          cedures must take into account the
management schemes and invest-                One of the first legal measures taken                           principles of self-sufficiency, prox-
ment in quantitative and qualitative          to protect the environment at EU level                          imity of waste for disposal and prior
prevention. Furthermore, it called for        was the waste framework Direc-                                  informed consent.
the development of seven thematic             tive (WFD)5 of 1975 (revised in 1991
strategies, including those on ‘the           and codified in 2006). The WFD lays                             Processing and disposal
sustainable use of natural resources’         down the principles for – and there-                            facilities
and ‘the prevention and recycling of          fore has a direct or indirect impact
waste’, which were published by the           on - all other EU legislation related                           The European Union has laid down
European Commission on 21 Decem-              to waste. It sets guidelines for waste                          strict conditions that need to be met
ber 2005.                                     management in Member States,                                    by European waste facilities. Common
                                              including the obligation to take all                            technical operational standards aim at
The Thematic Strategy on the sustain-         necessary steps to prevent waste                                reducing the impact of the treatment
able use of natural resources3 aims           generation, to encourage re-use and                             and disposal of waste - particularly
to reduce the negative environmental          to ensure safe disposal. Provisions                             incineration and landfilling - on the
impacts arising from the use of natu-         relating to the establishment of an                             environment and human health.
ral resources in a growing economy.           integrated and adequate network of
To achieve this it focuses on improv-         disposal installations are intended to                          Based on the definition of differ-
ing knowledge, understanding and              make the Community self-sufficient                              ent waste and landfill categories,
awareness of European resource use,           in waste disposal.                                              the Directive on landfill of waste8
developing monitoring tools, and fos-                                                                         lays down a standard waste accep-
tering strategic approaches and pro-          The Thematic Strategy on prevention                             tance procedure to avoid risks. This
cesses in specific economic sectors.          and recycling of waste foresees a fur-                          includes the obligation that waste
It stresses that policies need to move        ther revision of the WFD as described                           be landfilled according to type and
beyond emissions and waste control            above. To improve implementation it                             treated before disposal. It defines
if they are to reduce the environmen-         seeks to oblige all EU Member States                            wastes not to be accepted in any
tal impact of resource use; they must         to develop national waste prevention                            landfill and sets up a system of oper-
cover the whole life-cycle of resources       programmes. To contribute to better                             ating permits for landfill sites.
from collection to disposal.                  regulation it calls for the hazardous
                                              waste and waste oil Directives (see                             The Directive on waste incinera-
A ‘European recycling society’ is             below) to be merged with the WFD.                               tion9 covers waste incineration and
the long-term vision of the The-                                                                              ‘co-incineration’ plants - the main
matic Strategy on the prevention              The hazardous waste Directive 6                                 purpose of the latter being energy
and recycling of waste 4. It seeks            of 1991 laid down stringent require-                            generation or the production of mate-
to promote a ‘recycling society’ in           ments for the management of a list                              rial products. It introduced technical
Europe and provides the framework             of commonly defined hazardous
for a comprehensive revision of EU            wastes. It requires Member States                               Although the recycling of municipal
waste policy in view of the priorities        to ensure that hazardous waste is                               waste has been increasing, this has
set on prevention and recycling in            recorded, identified and not mixed                              been almost completely offset by an
the EAP. The strategy calls for the           with other hazardous or non-haz-                                increase in municipal waste generation.

existing legal framework to be clari-         ardous waste. It states that any
fied, simplified, streamlined and also        establishment carrying out disposal
modernised with the introduction of           operations must obtain a permit
a life-cycle analysis in policymaking.        and be subject to inspection. The
It stresses that progress requires a          competent authorities must publish
renewed emphasis on full implemen-            plans for the management of haz-
tation of existing legislation and bet-       ardous waste, to be evaluated by
ter knowledge and information on the          the Commission.
current situation and best practice.
More ambitious waste prevention               The Regulation on the shipment of
                                                                                       LIFE04 ENV/LV/000634

policies and common reference stan-           waste7 sets out a system of control
dards for recycling are also needed           for the movement of waste; it speci-
to prevent the threat of ‘eco-dump-           fies the documentation to be pro-
ing’ in Europe.                               vided and the security measures to
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE05 ENV FIN 000539

                                                                 Waste hierarchy                                      "%34 /04)/.

                                                                                                               0REVENT WASTE IN THE FIRST PLACE
                                                                 Current EU waste policy is
                                                                 based on a concept known                            2E USE THE PRODUCT
                                                                 as the ‘waste hierarchy’,
                                                                 which classifies the dif-                           2ECYCLE THE PRODUCT
                                                                 ferent options for managing
                                                                 waste from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ from             2ECYCLE OR COMPOST THE MATERIAL
                                                                 an environmental perspective:
                                                                                                             2ECOVER THE ENERGY BY INCINERATING
                                                                 prevention; re-use; recycling;
                                                                 recovery; and disposal. Although            $ISPOSE OF THE PRODUCT IN A LANDFILL
                                                                 the waste hierarchy should not
                                                                 be seen as a rigid rule, the aim of                7/234 /04)/.
                                                                 moving towards a recycling and
                                                                 recovery society means moving up the hierarchy, away from environmentally dam-
                                                                 aging landfill and incineration procedures.

                        Waste prevention awareness raising       The Directive on waste electrical and      The Directive on packaging and
                        poster
                                                                 electronic equipment (WEEE)10 was          packaging waste (adopted in 199412
                                                                 introduced to tackle this fast growing     and amended in 200413) supplemented
                        requirements and operational condi-      waste stream by setting targets for        the Community measures14 first intro-
                        tions for these plants, including the    its separate collection, recovery and      duced in the early 1980s, covering the
                        obligation for plants to have prior      recycling. It shifts responsibility to     packaging of liquid beverage contain-
                        authorisation. Emission limits are set   producers for recycling electrical and     ers intended for human consumption.
                        for certain pollutants released into     electronic equipment, which consum-        The directive sets out measures and
                        the air or water.                        ers can return to them free of charge.     requirements for the prevention, re-
                                                                 This is complemented by the Directive      use and recovery of packaging waste
                        Special waste streams                    on the restriction of the use of cer-      in Member States. It aims to harmonise
                                                                 tain hazardous substances (RoHS)11,        national schemes to ensure the viabil-
                        To complement the measures set out       which requires the substitution of         ity of collection and recycling activities
                        above, the EU has adopted detailed       various heavy metals and brominated        within the internal market.
                        legislation covering specific individ-   flame retardants in new equipment
                        ual waste streams. These typically       entering the market. Together, these       The 1975 waste oil Directive15, as last
                        cover both preventative measures         aim to provide incentives to improve       amended by the 2000 waste incinera-
                        and common rules for separate col-       the design of electrical and electronic    tion Directive, promotes the safe col-
                        lection and treatment.                   equipment to facilitate recycling.         lection and disposal of mineral-based
                                                                                                            lubricants or industrial oils which
                                                                                                            have become unfit for their original
                                                                                                            intended use. According to the direc-
                                                                                                            tive, Member States must ensure that
                                                                                                            waste oils are collected and disposed
                                                                                                            of appropriately. Priority should be
                                                                                                            given to refining and thus regenerating
                                                                                                            waste oils. Alternative procedures may
                                                                                                            include combustion, destruction, stor-
                                                                                                            age or tipping. The directive outlaws
                                                                                                            certain disposal methods and requires
                                                                                                            the registration and supervision of enti-
                                                                                                            ties engaged in waste oil collection or
                                                                                                            disposal.
LIFE03 ENV/S/000596

                                                                                                            Bunker to receive used vehicle oil filters
                                                                                                            and conveyer belt
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe                                   I   p. 

                                             LIFE99 ENV/NL/000232
The Directive on end-of-life vehi-
cles16 promotes more environmentally
friendly dismantling and recycling of
motor vehicles. It establishes targets
for the re-use, recycling and recov-
ery of vehicles and calls on manu-
facturers to incorporate recycling
objectives within vehicle design. It is
foreseen that vehicles may be put on
the market only if they are re-usable
and/or recyclable to a minimum of
85% by mass or are re-usable and/or
recoverable to a minimum of 95% by
mass. This has been complemented
by several pieces of implementing
legislation on spare parts, certificates
of destruction and rules on monitor-
ing implementation.

From September 2008, a new Bat-
tery Directive17 will ban mercury in
all batteries and cadmium in most
portable ones. In addition, it will                                 The LIFE Paperfoam project developed an alternative packaging material made from
establish rules for the collection,                                 potato starch, replacing traditional plastic CD holders.
recycling, treatment and disposal of
batteries and accumulators to reduce                                heavy metals, poorly biodegradable          facilities. Inventories of closed facili-
the amount of hazardous substances                                  organic compounds and potentially           ties posing serious risks to the envi-
dumped in the environment.                                          pathogenic organisms that can be            ronment and health have also to be
                                                                    found in sewage sludge. It prohibits        drawn up.
The Directive on the disposal of                                    the use of untreated sludge on agri-
polychlorinated biphenyls and                                       cultural land unless it is injected or
polychlorinated terphenyls18 (PCB/                                  incorporated into the soil. It further      1 COM(96) 399
                                                                                                                2 European Parliament and Council
PCT) aims at the controlled decon-                                  regulates the use of sludge in agri-          Decision No 1600/2002/EC
tamination and disposal of all PCBs                                 culture to prevent contact with crops       3 COM(2005) 670
and equipment containing PCBs as                                    and grazing animals.                        4 COM(2005) 666
                                                                                                                5 European Parliament and Council
soon as possible. It requires Mem-                                                                              Directive 2003/30/EC
ber States to prepare inventories,                                  The Directive on the management of          6 Council Directive 2003/96/EC
                                                                                                                7 European Parliament and Council
collection plans and decontamina-                                   waste from extractive industries20          Directive 2004/8/EC
tion and disposal plans for electrical                              aims at minimising negative effects         8 COM(2005) 265 final
                                                                                                                9 COM(2006) 545 final
equipment manufactured before the                                   on the environment and human health
                                                                                                                10 European Parliament and Council
restrictions on PCB use.                                            from the treatment and disposal of          Directive 2002/91/EC
                                                                    mining and quarrying waste. The             11 Council Directive 92/42/EEC
                                                                                                                12 European Parliament and Council
With the Directive on sewage sludge                                 Directive covers the planning, licens-      Directive 2000/55/EC
used in agriculture19, the EU seeks                                 ing, operation, closure and after-care      13 European Parliament and Council
                                                                                                                Directive 96/57/EC
to prevent harmful effects on soil,                                 of waste facilities and provides for a
                                                                                                                14 Council Directive 92/75/EEC
vegetation, animals and humans from                                 major-accident policy for high-risk         15 Council and Commission deci-
                                                                                                                sions 2001/469/EC, 2003/168/EC,
                                                                                                                EC/2422/2001
                                                                                                                16 European Parliament and Council
Life-cycle thinking                                                                                             Directive 2005/32/EC
                                                                                                                17 European Parliament and Council
                                                                                                                Directive 2006/32/EC
The introduction of the concept of ‘life-cycle thinking’ to waste policy aims
                                                                                                                18 European Parliament and Council
at ensuring that the optimal environmental option within the waste hierarchy                                    Directive 2003/87/EC
is selected in each specific situation. The approach examines environmental                                     19 Council Directive 96/61/EC
                                                                                                                20 European Parliament and Council
impacts at each stage in the life-cycle of a resource or a product with the aim of                              Directive 2006/21/EC
minimising the overall impacts.
LIFE and waste recycling - Innovative waste management options in Europe - LIFE III - Europa EU
LIFE: Support for an evolving
                       EU waste policy
                       Good waste management begins with preventing or minimising waste generation in the first
                       place. However, where waste material is produced, management and treatment solutions are
                       necessary. Featuring a wide range of innovative and successful waste-related LIFE projects, this
                       LIFE-Focus publication illustrates methods and technologies to treat waste in an optimal way to
                       reduce risks to human health and the environment.

                                                                                                           LIFE00 ENV/GR/000739
                       Despite the numerous regulations          Instrument for the Environment (LIFE)
                       adopted over the last decades, and        demonstrate the technical feasibility
                       the intensive efforts of some Member      and financial viability of methods and
                       States to reduce waste volumes, the       technologies that can successfully
                       potential for waste prevention, recy-     enhance environmental performance
                       cling, re-use and recovery in the EU is   in the waste sector. These include not
                       not yet fully exploited. Unsustainable    only a number of projects showing how
                       trends in waste generation need to be     the planned introduction of life-cycle
                       stopped and waste management fur-         thinking into waste policy can effecti-
                       ther improved.                            vely be implemented, but also many
                                                                 ‘win-win’ projects underlining that
                       EU waste policy has the potential to      measures to protect the environment                               LIFE in action: Managing earthquake
                       reduce the negative environmental         can also be financially beneficial.                               demolition waste in Greece.
                       impact of resource use and increase
                       resource efficiency in the European       Current waste policy tools need to                                environmental problems, the pro-
                       economy. This will not only contri-       be complemented by approaches                                     gramme links research and com-
                       bute to maintaining the resource          that promote smarter resource use.                                mercialisation. LIFE bridges the gap
                       base, essential for sustained eco-        This can be achieved by changing                                  between research and development
                       nomic growth, but developments in         production and consumption pat-                                   and large-scale application, and
                       waste management and recycling            terns and through innovation, as                                  assists the widespread dissemina-
                       will also generate jobs and business      confirmed by the European Envi-                                   tion of verified pioneering technolo-
                       opportunities.                            ronment Agency .                                                 gies and good practices.

                       Numerous projects co-financed by          However, even innovative techno-
                                                                                                                                   Recycling paper and cardboard
                       the European Commission’s Financial       logies that can deliver sizable envi-
                                                                                                           LIFE04 ENV/FIN/000299

                                                                 ronmental benefits can have difficul-
                       Collecting batteries                      ties breaking into the market due to
                                                                 high entry barriers when competing
                                                                 against established conventional
                                                                 technology.

                                                                 LIFE represents an important tool
                                                                 in helping to overcome such entry
                                                                 barriers. By financing demonstra-
                                                                 tion projects aimed at developing
                                                                 and testing innovative solutions to

                                                                  For example LIFE99 ENV/NL/000232,
LIFE02 ENV/GR/000373

                                                                 LIFE02 ENV/E/000236, LIFE00 ENV/
                                                                 S/000853, LIFE99 ENV/IRL/000605 or
                                                                 LIFE02 ENV/E/000187.
                                                                  EEA Signals 2004. A European Environ-
                                                                 ment Agency update on selected issues,
                                                                 p. 6
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                                                                         LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe                                                      I   p. 

                                 Percentage of LIFE-Environment projects focusing on waste
                                              Figure I: Percentage of LIFE-Environment projects focusing on waste
           

           

           

           

           

            

            
                                                                                                                                       

          Since 1992, the percentage of waste-related LIFE-Environment projects has remained consistently high and close to the overall
          average of 19%. (Please note that a cumulative budget covered 2000 and 2001 due to a delay in the launch of the call for proposals
          under LIFE III.)

          290 waste-related                                                        ment, recycling, re-use and recovery.                                  private enterprises, underlining the
          LIFE-Environment projects                                                Some projects looked at waste in                                       strong economic interest in reducing
                                                                                   general, while others focused on spe-                                  the amount of waste produced.
          Since 1992, LIFE-Environment has                                         cific waste streams such as hazar-
          financed more than 290 projects                                          dous waste (19%), municipal waste                                The table below shows the range
          focusing on waste. These have been                                       (18%), packaging and plastic waste                               of private and public entities that
          complemented by a number of waste-                                       (10%), agricultural waste (9%), and                              have engaged -through LIFE - in
          related LIFE-Third Countries and                                         waste from electric and electronic                               efforts to improve waste mana-
          some LIFE-Nature projects. In total,                                     equipment (7%) or end-of-life                                    gement. The projects covered in
          19% of all LIFE-Environment projects                                     vehicles (6%).
                                                                                                                                                   Waste-related  LIFE-Environment projects by
                                                                                                                                                    the present brochure reflect this
                                                                                                                                                                      approach
          have specifically addressed issues
                     LIFE-Environment     projects by approach                                                                                      balance: twelve of the twenty pro-
          in the waste sector. Project themes      Nearly half of the programme’s                                                                   jects featured are managed by pri-

                                   Percentage of waste-related LIFE-Environment
          include waste collection, manage-        waste-project beneficiaries were                                                                 vate enterprises.

          Enterprises constituted more  projects per type of beneficiary
                                       than 50% of the LIFE-Environment beneficiaries of waste-related projects.
                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                            

                        Figure 2: Percentage of waste-related LIFE-Environment projects per type of beneficiary

           

                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
           

                    4ECHNOLOGIES      -ETHODS AND TOOLS                              !WARENESS RAISING                                              4ECHNOLOGIES          -ETHODS AND TOOLS             !WARENESS RAISING
          Making efficient use of electricity
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Waste-related
                                                                                                                  Waste-related
                                                                                                                     LIFE-Environment
                                                                                                                                LIFE-Environment
                                                                                                                                       projects byprojects by
                                                                                                                        approach approach
  LIFE-Environment
            LIFE-Environment
                   projects byprojects
                               approachby approach

                                       Figure 3: LIFE-Environment projects                              Figure 4: Waste-related LIFE-Environment
                                                      by approach                                                       projects by approach

                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                      

 4ECHNOLOGIES                      4ECHNOLOGIES
                                       -ETHODS AND TOOLS       !WARENESS
                                                      -ETHODS AND TOOLS RAISING
                                                                              !WARENESS RAISING          4ECHNOLOGIES    4ECHNOLOGIES
                                                                                                                             -ETHODS AND TOOLS       !WARENESS
                                                                                                                                            -ETHODS AND TOOLS RAISING
                                                                                                                                                                    !WARENESS RAISING

                              Old Member States implemented the               Over two-thirds of all waste-related           therefore directly contributing to the
                              most waste-related projects, with the           LIFE-Environment projects were                 realisation of the long-term goal of
                              most active countries being Spain               technology-focused, compared to                the European UnionAwareness  raising
                                                                                                                                                  as defined Awareness
                                                                                                                                                               in the  raising
                              (51 projects), France (44 projects)             less than half of all LIFE-Environment         Thematic Strategy on the prevention
                              and Italy (35 projects). However, two           projects. This shows the particular            and recycling of waste: to become
                              new Member States, Hungary and                  focus on developing new and more               an economically and environmentally
                              Slovakia, had the highest proportion            efficient technologies and impro-              efficient recycling society.
                              (33%) each of projects focusing on              vements in working methods in the
                              waste.                                          waste sector. Support from LIFE is             Disseminating results

                                                                                                                             Knowledge and information are
                                                                                                                             important to strengthening and
                                                                                                                             improving waste management
                                                                                                                             policy. This brochure aims to support
                                                                                                                             this need by highlighting successful
                                                                                                                             waste-related projects.

                                                                                                                             The projects featured are from 15 coun-
                                                                                                                             tries and were selected for their level of
                                                                                                                             innovation, the sustainability of their
                                                                                                                             outcomes, their relevance to environ-
                                                                                                                             mental policy and legislation, or their
                                                                                                                             demonstration value and transferability.

                                                                                                                             The initiatives chosen for this bro-
                                                                                                                             chure represent only a small sample
                                                                                                                             of the many LIFE waste projects.
                                                                                                                             Other exciting projects dealing with
                                                                                                                             this issue are listed on page 50 of this
                                                                                                                             publication, and many more can be
                                                                                                                             found on the LIFE website’s project
                                                                                                                             database at http://ec.europa.eu/envi-
                                                                                                                             ronment/life/project/Projects/index.
                                                                                                                             cfm or its thematic pages on waste at
                                                                                                                             http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/
                                                                                                                             themes/waste/index.htm.
      LIFE00 ENV/IRL/000764

                                                                                                                             Collection point for electrical and
                                                                                                                             electronic equipment
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe   I   p. 11

                    las t ic waste
              d   p
           an
                   Packaging is now estimated to form
    i ng

                   up to half the volume of municipal
                   waste in western Europe. Over the
  ag

                   next ten years, the total amount of
P ac k

                   packaging waste in the EU-15 is
                   projected to increase by 20-25 %
                   compared to the year 2000.

                   Packaging comprises an increasing
                   proportion of non-degradable plastic
                   and produces toxic emissions during
                   incineration. It consumes significant
                   raw materials during its manufacture and typically has a
                   very short useful lifetime, soon becoming waste that must
                   be treated or thrown away. Although on the European scale,
                   there has been a continuous increase in the recycling rate of
                   packaging waste, the situation varies significantly between
                     Member States.

                           The EU packaging Directive encourages the esta-
                               blishment of re-use systems and sets clear tar-
                                   gets for recovery and recycling. The LIFE
                                     programme supported projects developing
                                     innovations such as a self-supporting selec-
                                      tive-collection system for plastic packa-
                                       ging waste in the construction sector, a
                                         divided packaging waste management
                                          system for tourist use or foldable, reu-
                                           sable, and recyclable boxes for fruit
                                            and vegetable packaging.
Packaging and plastic waste

Paperfoam: The ‘baked potato’
reinvented as sustainable packaging
This LIFE-project successfully demonstrated how injection moulding of potato starch and paper
can produce a new form of biodegradable packaging that is economical and of high quality.

Complaints abound concerning                                                           to ‘moisturise’ the packaging so that
the waste produced by packaging.                                                       it becomes more flexible and less
Although necessary for the protection                                                  brittle too.”
of products for distribution, storage,
sale and use, packaging often produces                                                 Alternative packaging solutions such
unbiodegradable waste that ends up in                                                  as EPS (polystyrene) and cardboard
landfills and frequently employs non-                                                  are far less environmentally friendly
renewable resources in its sometimes                                                   due to their origin (EPS) or their energy-
very energy-intensive production.                                                      intensive manufacturing process (card-
                                                                                       board). Paperfoam’s process is, com-
Whilst high-quality alternatives to tra-                                               pared to corrugated board, much less
ditional petroleum-based packaging,                                                    energy intensive. This is because the
such as bio-plastics, have been devel-                                                 wet paper pulp that is used as base
oped in the past, these were all very                                                  material for corrugated board contains
expensive. Just over ten years ago,                                                    about 5% dry matter, whereas the sus-
however, Vertis B.V., a Dutch automa-       Apple chose Paperfoam for its ability to   pended solution of starch and water,
tion services provider, invented a pro-     provide unusually shaped packaging.        which forms the basis for Paperfoam,
cess and product, which they called                                                    contains 50% dry matter. This means
‘Paperfoam’ that addresses many of          Vertis used Paperfoam to package           that it uses about ten times less energy
these concerns. Paperfoam is a sus-         products such as desktop phones,           to reach the requested dry matter per-
tainable packaging solution which is        DVDs and iPods. It could also be used,     centage if Paperfoam is used as base
sufficiently cost-effective and of high     however, for much more complicated         material instead of corrugated board.
enough quality to be commercially           and unusually shaped objects. Later        Furthermore, Paperfoam can be eas-
attractive.                                 on, the firm found that the packaging      ily disposed of in any waste process
                                            needed to be stronger to pass trans-       (paper recycling, combustion or com-
The injection moulding technology that      port and drop tests. This was achieved     posting), as it is completely biode-
Vertis invented in 1996 produces a          by adding paper to the mix.                gradable and contains no toxic com-
substance made of renewable natural                                                    ponents.
fibres and potato starch - Paperfoam.       ‘Baking’ sustainable packaging
In essence, the process involves the                                                   Vertis set up a separate company,
injection of a mixture of potato starch     When you walk through the Paper-           Paperfoam B.V., to oversee the imple-
and water into a mould before this          foam offices, it smells more like the      mentation of the ‘Paperfoam’ project.
mixture is then ‘baked’ in the heated       baking of biscuits than baked pota-        However, first of all, Paperfoam needed
mould. Once ejected from the mould,         toes. “It is a sort of baking process,”    to prove the viability of the technol-
the substance is ready to be used           says Jan Wietze Huisman, the com-          ogy. “We could not afford to produce
as packaging. This technology was           pany’s director of research and tech-      enough packaging ourselves to supply
a major breakthrough in terms of the        nology. “In fact, it is quite like bak-    worldwide,” recounts Huisman. “So
economies of production and the cost        ing cookies in another way as well.        we needed to prove that the machines
of biopolymer based foam-packaging,         When you bake biscuits, the first day      and the technology worked.”
especially when compared to other           they are very brittle, but if you leave
techniques, such as wafer irons. The        a tray of them on the kitchen table,       Demonstrating viability
injection moulding technology origi-        you notice that the next day, they are
nated in the plastics industry, but until   slightly soggier, more flexible. This is   Thus, with LIFE funding supporting a
Vertis’ development, no one had ever        because they have absorbed some            project that lasted from 1999 to 2001,
tried to use it to make starch-based,       moisture from the air. Well, Paper-        Paperfoam built a demonstration plant
biodegradable packaging.                    foam uses a similar sort of process        to show the market that all conceiv-
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe                I   p. 13

able kinds of packaging could be                 would be saved, when compared with          still fairly small – there are 2 billion CD
constructed in a continuous produc-              traditional packaging energy require-       packages produced worldwide every
tion process, combining design tools             ments, leading to a reduction of 300        year - but it is all part of the ‘green
(CAD), the injection moulding technique          tonnes of CO2 equivalents.                  wave’ washing over the entertainment
and the company’s knowledge-base of                                                          industry at the moment as it replaces
fibre-starch recipes.                            An attractive technology                    its petroleum-based packaging.

Specifically, this demonstration plant           As it happened, many firms have been        Under pressure from environmen-
was meant to enable the Paperfoam                attracted to the technology for reasons     tal and labour rights campaigners,
company to attract its first commer-             other than its eco-friendliness. “When      the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart,
cial orders. This would be achieved              people see Paperfoam, they think it is      recently introduced a sustainability
by developing a packaging product                beautiful and recyclable, but often it is   ‘scorecard’ amongst its suppliers
that was qualitatively very good, bio-           some of its other special characteris-      – they were to deliver items that were
degradable, able to hold a weight of             tics that attract clients,” notes Ciaran    both good for the environment and
1kg, used less energy and contributed            Jetten, Paperfoam’s sales manager.          good for the bottom line. Taking heed
to a reduction in surpluses from the                                                         of this new approach, Universal Music
industrial processing of agricultural            “For instance, because it is very diffi-    Group chose Paperfoam as its pack-
substances into goods that are not               cult for Paperfoam to be copied – the       aging supplier to improve its sustain-
meant for human or animal consump-               pre-mix that we add to the starch and       ability score with the retail giant.
tion (agrification).                             water is a secret recipe: it is very dif-
                                                 ficult to make ‘pirate’ packaging.“ This    For businesses in a declining sec-
At the end of the project, the results           can help with the prevention of piracy      tor such as record companies, most
were better than expected. Following             of the product the packaging encases.       packaging alternatives have proved
the demonstration project, the ben-              “When companies track down what             too expensive, even in large volumes.
eficiary generated orders from five              might be a pirated copy of their prod-      Paperfoam is thus a perfect fit, as it can
multinational companies primarily in             uct, they can quickly tell if the pack-     be produced in bulk and at low cost.
the non-food sector: Bosch, Siemens,             aging is not Paperfoam. AMD, when           Other major record labels, including
Packard, Detewe and Ascom. Fur-                  they were looking for new packaging         Sony BMG and EMI have now also
thermore, it sold four licences, to firms        for their hard-drives, went for Paper-      decided to go with PaperFoam.
in Malaysia, Denmark, China and the              foam for these anti-piracy qualities.”
US. The financial figures were also              Similarly, Apple chose Paperfoam for        This ‘green wave’ is expected to
better than expected, as more sales              its ability to provide unusually shaped     spread throughout the entertainment
revenue was received. Depending                  packaging for its sharp lines, a task for   industry and beyond. Thanks to its
on the scale of production and pur-              which traditional cardboard is less well    ‘start-up’ demonstration funding from
pose of the Paperfoam packaging, an              suited.                                     LIFE, Paperfoam will be at the forefront
investment in machinery can be paid                                                          of developments, ‘baking’ its way to
back in seven years. As of the end               However, because the technology             sustainable packaging worldwide.
of the project, the profit after seven           cycle for consumer electronics prod-
years was expected to be between                 ucts requires changes in packaging
€1.4 and €4.5 million. While the basic           every three years or so, Paperfoam          Project Number:
production cost is higher than other             has decided to divide its business into     LIFE99 ENV/NL/000232
types of packaging, when looking at              two lines: the first services specialty     Title: Paperfoam: demonstration
the entirety of the business produc-             packaging needs of licensees; and the       of the applicability of an innovative
tion chain, Paperfoam comes out                  second line services the packaging          technology to produce packag-
cheaper. As it weighs so much less,              needs of standard, more mainstream          ings, made of natural fibres and
                                                                                             starch, which are both environmental
transit costs are lowered substantially,         products that have longer technology
                                                                                             friendly and of a high quality
thus in the end, the cost to the end-            cycles, and thus provide more con-
                                                                                             Beneficiary: Vertis B.V.
consumer are comparable to other                 stant business.
competing products. Additionally, the                                                        Total Budget: e 1,608,000
reduced transportation needs result in           This second line has so far produced        LIFE Contribution: e 358,000
lower CO2 emissions.                             mainly packaging that replaces the tra-     Period: Feb-1999 to Aug-2001
                                                 ditional plastic CD and DVD packaging,
                                                                                             Website: www.paperfoam.com
In an energy audit performed in 2004,            as well as that of gift cards. Paperfoam
                                                                                             Contact: Jan Wietze Huisman
Paperfoam found that in the following            themselves now produce some 80 mil-
year, 2005, almost 7000 GJ of energy             lion CD and DVD cases a year. This is       Email: huisman@paperfoam.com
Packaging and plastic waste

AFM: Cleaner, safer water filtration,
thanks to recycled glass bottles
This innovative UK project demonstrated the potential of using recycled glass as a medium for
water filtration. This not only provides an interesting secondary use for the bottles, but manages
to out-perform standard sand filtration methods in terms of water quality.

                                                                                         AFM proved to be highly effective
                                                                                         at removing bacteria, parasites and
                                                                                         organic matter in water filters tested
                                                                                         at several different locations, includ-
                                                                                         ing swimming pools and large aquari-
                                                                                         ums. It improved the quality of sew-
                                                                                         age effluent by eliminating 90% of
                                                                                         pollution and the quality of drinking
                                                                                         water by removing 30% more waste.
                                                                                         Results included the removal of spe-
                                                                                         cific pathogens, the reduction of dan-
                                                                                         gerous chemical compounds – such
                                                                                         as trichloramine and trihalomethanes
                                                                                         – and a reduction in chlorine con-
                                                                                         sumption of up to 80%.

                                                                                         AFM is presently used on a small
                                                                                         scale (approximately 1,000 tonnes) in
                                                                                         pressure filters to treat a wide range
                                                                                         of water types. However, this project
Recycled glass is the basis of the water filtration medium used here, in this Scottish   served to demonstrate the tremen-
swimming pool                                                                            dous growth potential of AFM for
                                                                                         tertiary treatment of sewerage efflu-
The project started from the observa-           water supplies to the benefit of pub-    ent, industrial wastewater, fish farms,
tion that 80% of water supplies in the          lic health. It would also provide an     swimming pools and landfill leachate.
UK were being treated by rapid gravity          important new use for processed          The Drinking Water Inspectorate has
and pressure sand filters, the perform-         recycled glass.                          also approved AFM filters for use in
ance of which deteriorate as the bac-                                                    domestic water supply.
teria biomass in the sand develops.             Recycled glass outperforms sand
Bacteria colonise the sand in sewage                                                     Before and after AFM treatment of
treatment works, drinking water and             The project developed a process          sewage effluent
swimming pool filters, producing a              to create the AFM water filtration
sticky alginate coat that prevents the          media from recycled glass bot-
filters from working properly after just        tles. The glass is firstly reduced in
a few days.                                     particle size to equate with sand.
                                                It is then further processed to give
The Scottish-based marine bio-                  the media surface a high negative
logical company, Dryden Aqua,                   charge or zeta potential and amplify
believed they could develop a new               the inherent properties of glass to
and innovative water filtration prod-           provide catalytic activity. The nega-
uct called AFM (Active Filter Media)            tive charge means that AFM can
from recycled glass. It expected that           absorb much smaller particles than
AFM could prove to be more effec-               sand, including sub-micron par-
tive than sand filtration systems for           ticles as well a proportion of dis-
the treatment of municipal drinking             solved organics.
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe           I   p. 15

Although the product is more expen-               Furthermore, since companies that
sive than the sand equivalent, the                presently process glass for recycling
medium has a lifespan at least 3-4                in the UK are not accustomed to treat-
times longer than sand filter media.              ing glass as a secondary product, but
Life-cycle cost analysis indicates a              as a waste product, few of the big
return on capital investment measured             recycling companies have the ability
in months, especially for wastewater              to supply the glass processed in the
treatment, not to mention the health              way required for the AFM product.
and safety benefits of the improved fil-
tration efficiency. The results and the           Instead of a network, the benefici-
savings achieved were large enough                ary therefore developed a working
to convince three local councils and              relationship with one company to
many large private leisure centres in             supply the required glass. It estab-
Scotland to adopt AFM in their swim-              lished the first full-scale processing
ming pools.                                       facility for AFM, primarily exploiting
                                                  waste green and brown bottles, with
Using recycled glass bottles                      a capacity to process 20,000 met-
                                                  ric tonnes per year. It is hoped that
                                                                                            Dr John Hargreaves, chief executive
Besides the obvious environmental                 an incremental increase in demand         Scottish Water PLC, and minister for
and health advantages of the new                  for AFM will be met with a similar        the environment Ross Finnie, MSP, visit
water filtering system, the project has           increase in supply.                       the AFM system
also created a feasible secondary
use for the often wasted resource of              Extending the use of AFM                  of the market. As drinking water
used glass and offered the potential                                                        and wastewater disposal standards
to decrease the use of virgin sand, a             The fact that the AFM filter out-per-     become stricter in the coming years,
non-renewable natural resource, in                formed traditional sand filters in ini-   AFM filtration will become increas-
water filtration.                                 tial testing suggests there is much       ingly attractive to water treatment
                                                  scope for the extended use of the         facilities of all kinds.
Glass that is crushed and ready to be             filter to provide improvements in
re-melted is called cullet. Based on the          water quality. Opening up future          The development of the AFM market
impressive results of the initial investi-        markets to AFM could, for example,        will provide considerable benefits to
gations, the project sought to create a           contribute to removing the environ-       public health and the aquatic envi-
network of suppliers for the raw cullet           mental impact of industrial, sewage       ronment. Furthermore, since a large
that would meet Dryden Aqua’s speci-              and landfill wastewater discharges. It    water plant may require up to 35
fications. However, despite the excess            could also reduce the need for chem-      tonnes of AFM, it will also contribute
of recyclable glass, this proved more             ical treatment through improved pri-      to boosting the market for recycled
difficult than anticipated, with the              mary filtration.                          glass. The AFM LIFE project has
project unable to source adequate                                                           thus made an important contribu-
quantities of processed glass.                    The approval of AFM by the Drinking       tion towards the double objective of
                                                  Water Inspectorate has already pre-       enhancing wastewater treatment and
Much waste glass is reprocessed by                sented opportunities for its use within   waste glass recycling.
the recycling industry for use in indus-          the water industry. Significantly, the
trial sectors such as the production              political climate is currently highly
                                                                                            Project Number:
of aggregate for road building. This              favourable for the future expansion
                                                                                            LIFE02 ENV/UK/000146
requires much less processing than is
                                                                                            Title: Development and applications
needed for AFM and at present there
                                                                                            of advanced filtration medium
is little economic incentive for glass
                                                                                            Beneficiary: Dryden Aqua Limited
to be processed in the specific way
required given the limited market for                                                       Total Budget: e 1,166,000
such a product.                                                                             LIFE Contribution: e 176,000
                                                                                            Period: Jul-2002 to Jul-2005
                                                                                            Website: www.AFM.eu
                                                                                            Contact: Howard Dryden
                Project logo showing the
                      Active Filter Media                                                   Email: aqua@drydenaqua.com
Packaging and plastic waste

WPC-Recycle: ‘Greener’ outdoor
products from recycled
                                                                                                                                     D
                                                                                                                                   AR
                                                                                                                               AW
                                                                                                                             S
                                                                                                                          CT
                                                                                                                        JE        5

thermoplastic waste                                                                                             BE
                                                                                                                  ST
                                                                                                                     PR
                                                                                                                       O
                                                                                                                         20
                                                                                                                           04-2
                                                                                                                                00

This German LIFE project demonstrated a new technology to use recycled thermoplastic waste to
create ‘Wood Plastic Composites’ (WPC), a new, cost-effective and more environmentally friendly
material for manufacturing products for outdoor use.

Traditionally, products for outdoor use    calibrated and cooled. This resulted in
such as garden furniture have had to       a non-destructible adhesion without
be coated with duro-plastic resins and     the need for additional glues.
treated with environmentally damag-
ing fungicides. The energy input during    The new material proved to be
production is relatively high due to the   weather-resistant, without the need
long treatment times at high tempera-      for potentially environmentally harmful
tures. Furthermore, the combination of     wood preservatives. The more effec-
chipboard and duro-plastic means that      tive production process also reduced
used products cannot be recycled.          the overall quantity of material needed
                                           and minimised the use of new thermo-
Thermoplastic waste, such as pack-         plastic material in wood-plastic-com-       WPC can make use of more than just
aging waste, is also a major environ-      posites.                                    a handful of recycled pellets from ther-
                                                                                       moplastic waste
mental hazard. However, the German
project beneficiary Werzalit - a com-      WPC does not require the use of fun-
pany specialising in veneer sheets,        gicides, halogens, chlorines, or formal-    injection moulding is about 60%. By
woodchip panels, furniture and             dehyde, whilst the substitution of pure     September 2007, six full-scale produc-
weather-resistant products - foresaw       plastics with ecological wood-based         tion lines and 16 new jobs had been
a way to recycle thermoplastic waste       materials (domestic timber) helps           created in Werzalit’s WPC department.
to create an environmentally friendly      reduce CO2 emissions. It creates new        Increasing quantities and varieties of
WPC material for outdoor products          opportunities for recycling thermo-         WPC products are being produced
that could itself be recycled after use.   plastic waste material, thus extend-        and the plastic wood compound sold
                                           ing its life cycle. Future waste is also    as granulate to other injection mould-
Cheaper and more                           prevented, since the material itself is     ing companies. The material is now
environmentally friendly                   easily recycled and spare material and      being used by well-known sound sys-
                                           chippings can be easily remoulded.          tem supplier Bose to equip Audi with
The combination of the technical char-                                                 high-fidelity speakers.
acteristics of woodchips and thermo-       The project therefore successfully
plastics was shown to be feasible dur-     demonstrated that the recycled mate-
ing laboratory research. The project       rial could replace, and even outper-        Project Number:
experimented with and optimised the        form coated wood chipboards. The            LIFE00 ENV/D/000348
production of WPC with young poly-         new technology also offers economic         Title: Pilot-plant for the material
propylene, substituting the thermo-        benefits, since recycled polypropylene      utilisation of plastic waste in the pro-
                                                                                       duction of products based on new,
plastic component up to 100% with          is cheaper than young polypropylene.
                                                                                       polimer-bound wood materials
recycled polypropylene.
                                                                                       Beneficiary: Werzalit AG + Co KG
                                           Since the project ended, compres-
Based on excellent test results, the       sion moulding has been replaced by          Total Budget: e 1,579,000
project produced decorative, covered,      injection moulding and also extrusion.      LIFE Contribution: e 153,000
semi-finished side panels using WPC        Although extrusion products - such          Period: Dec-2001 to May-2004
core material and thermoplastic foils      as profiles for flooring - are still pro-   Website: www.werzalit.de
suitable for outdoor use. The foils and    duced with juvenile plastics because
                                                                                       Contact: Matthias Schulte
the extruded molten WPC core material      of the high optical requirements,
were combined in a double belt press,      the share of recycled plastic in the        Email: m_schulte_of@werzalit.de
LIFE and waste recycling: Innovative waste management options in Europe   I   p. 17

                                      le w a s t e
                           ad      ab
                        g r
                    e     Biodegradable waste is capable of
                d
            bio

                          undergoing biological decomposition.
                          It is made up of food waste, garden
                          waste, paper and cardboard, some tex-
Organic and

                          tiles and wood waste. Much of it comes
                          from ordinary households. On average,
                          the annual production of biodegradable
                          municipal waste is around 300kg per
                          capita in EEA member countries.

                          The main negative impact of biowaste occurs when it is
                          landfilled. This produces methane, a greenhouse gas which
                          is a potent greenhouse gas (21 times more potent than car-
                          bon dioxide) and which accounted for 3% of total green-
                          house gas emissions in the EU-15 in 1995. A major aim of
                          the European Landfill Directive is, therefore, to reduce the
                          amount of landfilled biodegradable waste and to apply life-
                          cycle thinking to biowaste management policies.

                          The three principal alternative treatments to landfill are
                          central composting, incineration with energy recovery and
                          recycling. The LIFE programme has supported the devel-
                               opment of such alternatives, including projects on the
                                    recycling of organic waste through co-fermen-
                                                            tation in municipal sewage
                                                              sludge digesters, local sys-
                                                             tems for recycling waste-
                                                           water and organic household
                                                         waste, and the development
                                                        of biodegradable covers for
                                                      sustainable agriculture.
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