LIFE PETCYCLE - Demonstration of Novel Marker and Sorting Techniques for PET Recycling into Higher Value Added Non-Woven Material

LIFE14 ENV/BE/001065

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Contact details:

Contact person: Gian Debelder
Tel: 3224566230
Fax: 3225683559
Email: debelder.g@pg.com

Project description:


Europe produces around 57 million tonnes of plastics annually. The packaging application sector accounts for 39.4% of the total plastics’ demand, and recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging is a fast-growing part of this. PET is the most recycled plastic packaging material in Europe (e.g. 1.68 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected in 2012 for recycling), and the recycling rate in 2012 was 52.3%. However, a large share of this is still unused or used only for low value applications, and almost 50% is mainly landfilled or incinerated.

The collected PET is partly recycled in coloured bottles, but an important part (20-30%) is used in low-value applications (mixed colours). Furthermore, depending on the country and sorting facility, circa 5-10% of the collected PET (c. 100 000 tonnes/year) cannot be adequately sorted and ends up in a mixed faction for energy recovery (incineration). The emergence of new colours (such as amber for plastic beer bottles, white for milk bottles) further complicates the sorting process for the recycling industry and increases the mixed faction.

If the PET streams could be adequately sorted and separated it would mean they could be reused as a much higher-value feedstock. The price for homogeneous PET flakes is potentially 10-40% higher than for mixed streams. In the medium term, the PET market share is expected to notably increase due to inherent advantages such as lower-weight bottles and greater design benefits (e.g. multilayer materials).


The main objective of the LIFE PETCYCLE project is to create novel upcycling routes for PET bottles by demonstrating how marker technology, of the type currently used to combat counterfeiting and for separating glass fibre containing PVC, can be transferred into the waste management sector.

This technology consists of introducing new fluorescent particles into the polymer that allows optical laser-based detection of the bottles in an automated high-speed sorting process. It will enable more powerful and innovative detection and sorting systems to be used that can identify and separate at source selected bottles from mixed waste streams. The project will demonstrate how the sorting and recycling of plastics that are currently incinerated, landfilled or only used for lower-quality PET, can be used to create high-quality rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) resource streams. Further, the project will test a high-quality rPET waste stream as a resource for producing non-woven fibre materials for use in a wide variety of applications, such as automotive, personal hygiene, bedding/furnishings and technical/industrial applications.

Expected results: The main result of the LIFE PETCYCLE project will be a new specifically-designed marker technology and detection system capable of high-speed automated detection of marked PET bottles. During its lifespan, the project will test this technique with 250 000 up front ‘doped’ PET bottles of a specific colour (white opaque).

Other expected results are as follows:

  • An increase in the value of recycled PET by up to 20%, by enabling more homogeneous PET sorting. This has the potential to increase the recycling rate by 5%. It will also reduce environmental impact, as 80 kT of PET bottles currently being landfilled or incinerated will become available as a resource for high-value applications;
  • The processing of c. 5-7.5 tonnes of rPET into 20 tonnes of non-woven fibre material and material that meets quality parameters; and
  • A life cycle assessment (LCA) of the entire process, in order to estimate its environmental impact and to foster its replication.



Environmental issues addressed:


Waste - Waste recycling
Waste - Packaging and plastic waste


waste recycling‚  plastic waste

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 94/62 - Packaging and packaging waste (20.12.1994)
  • Directive 2004/12 - Amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste (11.02.2004 )
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Procter & Gamble Services Company N.V.
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a multinational consumer goods’ company. Its products include numerous personal care and household products. In 2012, P&G recorded €64 billion in sales with customers in over 180 countries.
Partners EPRO(EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF PLASTICS RECYCLING AND RECOVERY ORGANISATIONS (EPRO)), Belgium PolyOne(PolyOne France), France VGW(Van Gansewinkel Groep B.V.), Netherlands Polysecure(Polysecure GmbH), Germany Wellman(Wellman Recycling), Netherlands


Project reference LIFE14 ENV/BE/001065
Duration 01-JAN-2016 to 01-JAN -2019
Total budget 2,152,803.00 €
EU contribution 1,171,680.00 €
Project location Vlaams Gewest(België - Belgique) Région Wallonne(België - Belgique) Bruxelles-Brussel(België - Belgique) Schleswig-Holstein(Deutschland) Hamburg(Deutschland) Niedersachsen(Deutschland) Bremen(Deutschland) Nordrhein-Westfalen(Deutschland) Hessen(Deutschland) Rheinland-Pfalz(Deutschland) Baden-Württemberg(Deutschland) Bayern(Deutschland) Saarland(Deutschland) Berlin(Deutschland) Brandenburg(Deutschland) Mecklenburg-Vorpommern(Deutschland) Sachsen(Deutschland) Sachsen-Anhalt(Deutschland) Thüringen(Deutschland) Île,de,France(France) Champagne-Ardennes(France) Picardie(France) Haute-Normandie(France) Centre(France) Basse-Normandie(France) Bourgogne(France) Nord-Pas-De-Calais(France) Lorraine(France) Alsace(France) Franche-Comté(France) Pays de la Loire(France) Bretagne(France) Poitou-Charentes(France) Aquitaine(France) Midi-Pyrénées(France) Limousin(France) Rhône-Alpes(France) Auvergne(France) Languedoc-Roussillon(France) Provence-Alpes-Côte d' Azur(France) Corse(France) Guadeloupe(France) Martinique(France) Guyane(France) Réunion(France) Groningen(Nederland) Friesland(Nederland) Drenthe(Nederland) Overijssel(Nederland) Gelderland(Nederland) Flevoland(Nederland) Noord-Brabant(Nederland) Limburg(Nederland) Utrecht(Nederland) Noord-Holland(Nederland) Zuid-Holland(Nederland) Zeeland(Nederland)


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