Increasing the quality and rate of MultilayER packaging recycLINg waste


The high-performance requirements requested by the industry and consumers are responsible that currently 17% of total plastic packaging is multilayer material , meaning 3.03 Mt of plastics. Difficulties for recycling it are accentuated, being mostly landfilled or incinerated. MERLIN project has joined a partnership between sorting technology providers, recyclers, research centers, social innovation experts and end-users to design cradle to cradle solutions. This 36-month research project will offer innovative solutions for all the processes required to increase the quality and rate of recycled plastic materials coming from multi-layer packaging waste: (i) SORTING (combining optical sensors, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and robotics), (ii) DELAMINATION (optimizing depolymerisation and using solvent-based processes), (iii) RECYLING (techniques for repolymerization and upcycling of polymers) and (iv) VALIDATION (developing rigid and flexible packaging solutions and demonstrating circularity of the processes). These solutions will be developed and later validated in a real environment to reach technology readiness level (TRL) 6. This will be complemented with additional techniques and tools for circularity design to increase knowledge and effectiveness in the closure of the European multilayer plastic chain. Finally, transversal activities related to regulation and standardization, safety, sustainability, business, training, dissemination and communication will support to maximize the impact and effectiveness of the project. These actions are aligned with the ones proposed by the European Plastic Strategy to achieve that by 2030 all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable or reusable and decrease the quantity of waste generated Potential annual carbon footprint saving that could be achieved recycling all the multilayer waste in Europe could reach 7.42 Mt CO2/year, with a potential economic of €10,605 million and more 106,000 new job positions.

Project details

Unibo Team Leader: Paola Galletti

Unibo involved Department/s:
Dipartimento di Chimica "Giacomo Ciamician"


Other Participants:
Itc Packaging Sl (Spain)
European Plastics Converters (Belgium)
Cea-Commissariat A L'Energie Atomique Et Aux Energies Alternatives (France)
Enco Srl (Italy)
Iris Technology Solutions S.L. (Spain)
Ferrovial Servicios Sa (Spain)
Ioniqa Technologies Bv (Netherlands)
ALMA MATER STUDIORUM - Università di Bologna (Italy)
Particula Group Drustvo S Ogranicenom Odgovornoscu Za Istrazivanje Razvoj I Proizvodnju (Croatia)
Unep/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre On Sustainable Consumption And Production Ggmbh-Cscp (Germany)
Indorama Ventures Europe Bv (Netherlands)
Rovimatica Sl (Spain)
Icimendue S.R.L. (Italy)

Total Eu Contribution: Euro (EUR) 4.926.225,00
Project Duration in months: 36
Start Date: 01/06/2021
End Date: 31/05/2024

Cordis webpage

UE flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101003883