TERMINUS addresses the challenge of unlocking recycling and reuse of flexible multi-layer and multi-compounds packaging materials used for food, beverages, cosmetics, pet food, fertilisers, any perishable goods in general. It will develop a range of smart enzyme-containing polymers with triggered intrinsic self-biodegradation properties, acting as adhesives or tie layers in the design and manufacturing of multi-layer plastics for food and non-food applications. The technology will be applied to biodegradable PUR-based adhesives for adhesive lamination and extrusion coating lamination, and polymers and tie layers (PBS, PLA, PPC or PCL) in blown extrusion.
TERMINUS will base its innovative and challenging objectives on a cross-disciplinary team of renowned organizations with expertise in enzymatic biodegradation of polymers, thermal protection of enzymes using nm organosilica and layered double hydroxide, cyclodextrins, UV and water triggered enzymatic activity, formulation of advanced polymers, manufacturing of multilayer plastic packaging, plastics recycling.
TERMINUS is based on TRL3 technologies and will reach TRL5. It will result in major market opportunities for European industrials in several well established markets ready for market opportunities: plastic packaging (TPPS, STTP), industrial enzyme applications (BIOPOX), PUR adhesives (COVESTRO), biodegradable plastics (IPC), biotech plants (OWS), mechanical recycling (SIGMA). At least 15% of improvement of economic efficiency vs. current solutions (landfilling, incineration) is expected. A reduction of landfilling for multi-layer plastic packaging over 80% together with a reduction of overall plastic landfilling by 55% will be achieved with a minimum decrease by 65% of the overall CO2 footprint.
TERMINUS will be a breakthrough in reaching the 2030 European Commission objective to recycle 100% plastic packaging. The project started on January, 1st 2019 and will last 49 months.
TERMINUS is decomposed in eight work packages (WPs).
WP1 will ensure the project management.
WP2 will involve end-users to design materials and ensure their performances to maximise their impact on markets. A first Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) in WP7 will allow identifying key targets to achieve carbon footprint reduction by 30%. Based on requirements and first LCA, partners will define materials, components and processes conditions to ensure respect of industrial constraints and intrinsic degradability.
WP3 will involve selection and characterization of polymers based on WP2 inputs and enzymes:
i. hydrolytic enzymes (esterases, proteases, ureases, lipases), among commercially available enzymes or derived from extremophilic/extremotolerant bacteria to degrade adhesives and tie layers,
ii. laccases/redox mediators systems, capable of degrading the targeted selected/designed PUR-based adhesives and potentially active and stable under harsh working conditions.
In WP4, we will develop enzyme protection strategies that will endow enzymes with appropriate thermal, physicochemical and temporal stability to allow their embedment in multi-layer material formulation. The protection strategies developed will be based on:
i. organosilica-shielded enzymes which oxidize trigger-released (i.e. UV, chemical or water triggers) redox mediators from mesoporous containers equipped with smart gate systems. The released mediator, in a reduced state, will be bio-catalytically oxidised by the protected enzyme and will in turn oxidise the target polymer causing its degradation.
ii. LDH-protected enzymes can be released as the structural stability of LDH relies on electrostatic interactions that can be competitively destabilised upon addition of water containing selected ions.
In WP5 multi-layer materials prototypes will be developed both at lab and pilot scales as well as in industrially relevant environment. Formulation of adhesives and tie layers will be done and optimised according to inputs from WP2, 3 and 4. First tests will show survival rates of enzymes and will give feedback to WP4 for protection.
WP6 will involve the lifetime durability and the recyclability of the selected multi-layer systems to be verified in an environment close to a recycling centre along with re-processing of recycled materials. We will validate the triggered degradation of PUR-based adhesives and bio-based tie layers in a prototype device (5 L and 50 L), demonstrate layers delamination for sorting and recycling of different films. Delaminated layers will be analysed and characterized. Separated materials will be recycled in non-food applications by extrusion. Properties assessments (adhesion, ageing, mechanical, optical, barrier) will be used to assess the behaviour of the package with and without enzymes in use conditions.
An LCA and circular economy analysis in WP7 will assess environmental benefits of smart packaging with intrinsic biodegradation properties.
WP8 is dedicated to communication, dissemination and exploitation actions, notably involving events to gather key accounts (e.g. breakfasts with presentation of TERMINUS results) and a contest event in the last 3 months.