Syschemiq: EU transformation to more plastics recycling

Systemic transition to a plastics circular economy with partners along the entire value chain

Different strategies for a better circular economy

Researchers are collaborating to develop a model for managing the circular economy, replication strategies based on a cross-regional business model, and new design rules for plastic packaging products.

Trilateral cooperation

21 consortium partners from five EU countries plan to facilitate the systemic transition to a plastics circular economy in cities, regions and their associations.

Project objective: Transformation to a circular plastics economy

In the international research and demonstration project Syschemiq, 21 consortium partners from five EU countries plan to facilitate the systemic transition to a plastics circular economy in cities, regions and their associations. To this end, representatives from industry, academia, education, government, cities and EU networks aim to create circular system solutions and overcome the main technical as well as non-technical barriers to closing raw material loops. 

Project benefits: Plastic waste sorting and citizen participation

More than 85 percent of mixed plastic waste and 58 percent of packaging waste is currently lost in the EU. Europe is thus faced with the urgent need to take a step toward a circular economy for plastics. To bring about this change, the network of countries needs circular system solutions, new business forms, business models, and strategies for replicating and disseminating the results, starting at the regional level and working with partners along the value chain. In the Syschemiq project, these requirements are divided into the following eight work packages: Circular specs and dual track governance support, Design for recycling, Collection, Sorting and pre-treatmant of plastic waste, City lab, Integrated regional value chain demonstrators, Upscaling study chemical Plastic waste recycling, Society and business impact assessment and Dissminination, Communication, Replication, Exploitation.

UMSICHT is active in three areas

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is involved in three of the eight topics. In the sub-project Design for Recycling, the researchers want to improve the overall quality of municipal solid waste. They are carrying this out using the example of a plastic waste stream, which mainly contains rigid polypropylene packaging. The goal is to use this example to determine optimal recycling cycles. The researchers at UMSICHT support this sub-project by evaluating the environmental impacts of the identified design solutions from waste to granulate in comparison to the status quo.

In the area of Collection, sorting and pre-treatment of plastic waste, researchers are investigating how the upstream part of the value chain, i.e. the collection, sorting and pre-treatment of plastic waste, can be improved in order to increase the quantity and quality of plastic waste streams sent for recycling. The focus is on streamlining to enable chemical recycling while maintaining and potentially improving mechanical recycling.

In contrast, in the City Lab program, researchers directly engage citizens in the circular economy by providing them with a living lab environment. The living lab environment helps to identify effective behavioral levers to encourage citizens to recycle intelligently. It is also designed to help citizens to contribute to the collaborative development of attractive recycled plastic products. The City Lab program is designed to create awareness and encourage citizen organizations to engage in non-littering campaigns, laying the groundwork for community engagement in recycling and reusing plastics.

Project result: Optimization of recycling and target group-specific communication

In the Syschemiq project, researchers are working together to develop a model for managing the circular economy that takes into account the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the transformation. In it, they create different scenarios and outline ways to make decisions. Replication strategies based on a cross-regional business model and business case and scenarios for other EU regions form another product. Teams are also looking at new design rules for plastic packaging products optimized for reuse of recycled plastic. New aligned incentives, standards or protocols for plastic waste collection and sorting offer possible solutions as well as new sorting equipment and mechanical and chemical recycling technologies and practices.

In addition to the scientific products, a tailored dissemination approach for stakeholders such as media or policy makers will be developed. During the project, a stakeholder analysis will be conducted on communication for use in other EU regions, led by ECRN. This will help to map regions and industry clusters across the EU and analyze ongoing (plastics) recycling and regional action plans and circular economy activities.

Project partners

  • ASL
  • Brightlands Chemelot Campus
  • Citylab Sittart-Geleen
  • European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN)
  • FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland
  • Fraunhofer UMSICHT
  • Ghent University
  • Lombardy Energy Cleantech Cluster
  • Maastricht University
  • Morssinkhof-Rymoplast
  • Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging
  • Plastic IQ
  • Plastics Recyclers Europe
  • POM Limburg
  • Provincie of Limmburg
  • Siegwerk
  • Source One
  • TNO
  • Zuyd University of Applied Sciences