One of the aims of LIFE programme is to support transition to circular economy, which is the main focus of the three LIFE projects presented at the current LIFE exhibition at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (from April 1 to June 30, 2019 on Dunajska 48, Ljubljana). The exhibition is presenting projects LIFE BAQUA, LIFE CITRUSPACK and LIFE CEPLAFIB – three examples of how implementation of circular economy connects different sectors, reduces the use of primary resources due to recycling of waste and supports development of new, environment friendly products.
The exhibition was prepared by TECOS, Slovenian Tool and Die Development Center, which in various roles participates in all three LIFE projects, thus testing and implementing new tools for solving environmental problems.
TECOS gained its first experience with the LIFE program as a subcontractor in the Spanish project LIFE BAQUA – Solutions through the new use for a waste of banana crop to develop products in aquaculture and plastics sector (LIFE15 ENV/ES/000157). The main goal of the three-year project (July 2016 – June 2019) is to demonstrate on the case of banana plantations, how sustainability and efficiency can be successfully applied in agricultural practice. They have tested this by improving the management and reduction of organic waste from production by using them in a series of new value chains. With mechanical treatment of unused plant parts of bananas, they obtain two different raw materials: high quality natural fibres and the remaining pulp. Fibres are used in the plastics sector to improve the mechanical properties of injected products. The project successfully produced the first products with natural fibres; crop protection bags in banana plantations (banana sleeves), fish feed bags and reinforced plastic parts that are suitable for use in the automotive sector. From the pulp antioxidant additives for the production of fish feed for aquaculture have been developed.
The international project is carried out by the University of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (Spain), in cooperation with three Spanish companies (Alevines y Doradas, S.A., DIBAQ DIPROTEG S.A., TECNO), the Swedish association SPIF and the Slovenian company AMBI-Metalpast d.o.o. The total budget is 1.7 million euros, of which 60 % is co-financed form the LIFE programme.
In the LIFE CITRUSPACK project – Revalorization strategies within the circular economy for the use of citrus waste in green packaging and cosmetics (LIFE16 ENV/ES/000171) TECOS is participating as an associated beneficiary. The project is demonstrating a process that enables treated wastes from the citrus industry to be used in packaging and cosmetic products. With an innovative process, they are optimizing waste management in the citrus juice industry and acquire natural fibres from citrus peel, which can be useful for reinforcing biodegradable plastic packaging for juices. The pulp residues serve as a source of natural antioxidants, pectin or essential oils in cosmetic creams, replacing other compounds. Thus, the food, plastic and cosmetic sectors are integrated in a single model.
The coordinating beneficiary of the project is AITIIP Technological Centre from Spain. Research and industrial project partners are from Spain (EROSKI S. COOP and AMC INNOVA JUICE AND DRINKS SL), Belgium (Organic Waste Systems nv), Slovenia (TECOS) and France (PLASTIPOLIS). The total value of the three-year project (July 2017 – June 2020) is 1.7 million euros, of which 60% is contributed by the European Commission through the LIFE programme.
In the third, TECOS took the role of the applicant and coordinating beneficiary of the LIFE project. In 2018, they successfully obtained LIFE co-financing for the LIFE CEPLAFIB project – Implementation of a new Circular Economy through the valorisation of postconsumer PLAstic waste and reclaimed pulp FIBer (LIFE17 ENV/SI/000119). The main objective of the project follows the idea of transforming two material streams of waste raw materials – plastic waste and newsprint paper into new material components for the formation of composite cellulose fiber reinforced plastics that can be used in high-tech production applications of the automotive, packaging and construction industries. The project follows a circular economy model aimed at increasing the recycling rate of waste products by 40 %; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % compared to current recycling activities.
Coordinating beneficiary of the project is TECOS. The partnership is consisted of: Adria Mobil and Omaplast from Slovenia, Aitiip Technology Centre from Spain, Ecopulp from Finland and ITB Institute from Poland. The project is active from July 2018 to June 2021. The overall budget of the project is 1.8 million, of which a good million (60 %) is contributed by the European Commission.