Background: Film-based products and packaging are growing due to their efficient material utilization compared to other material forms (bottles, rigid containers, etc.). Unfortunately, the current end-of-life scenario for films is generally landfill, despite the inherent value film-based materials maintain after the product is used. We’d like to explore a recycling solution to avoid the landfill and enable a second life for film materials, providing environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Problem Statement: Film recycling is not mainstream in the United States. The current recycling infrastructure manages paper, metals, and rigid plastics. Today, introducing flexible films to material recovery facilities (MRFs) causes problems. In order to advance film recycling, changes will be required for consumer participation, collection, material separation, and end uses of film materials (by type). We want this project to focus on material separation and answer questions such as:
1. What is the best way to separate multiple film types (monolayer and multi-material laminates) from other materials within MRFs?
2. Using existing infrastructure in MRFs, what is the ideal state of film materials for processing?
3. One use for recovered films may be energy recovery. As market demand for recycled film resin grows, investments to separate mono-material PE film from mixed material laminates may be considered. In this scenario, under what conditions might investments in film separation make economic sense?
4. Regarding consumer participation in film recovery -
- What’s the best way for film materials to be delivered to MRF’s?
- What are the pros & cons of a bag-in-bag program vs. film entry in a single stream?
NOTE: Procter & Gamble is involved in multiple partnerships with recyclers and recycling trade groups in Michigan and across the nation. Cube members would have the opportunity to leverage existing relationships.
This project is being proposed by Procter & Gamble as a sponsored project in the MCubed Diamond Program. The Master Alliance Agreement between the University of Michigan and Procter & Gamble will define IP Rights, Publication Rights and Confidentiality.