Urban bulky waste is a very heterogeneous material flow usually destined to landfill. The idea here is to improve the end-of-life and disposal of these complex products, proposing and demonstrating the viability of a new collection stream model with integrated advanced technology treatments to increase the quantity and quality of recovered materials, substituting other raw materials with highest environmental impact.
To demonstrate its technical and economical viability and asure the sustainable market introduction of the resulting raw materials with the highest possible added value, we will take into account: Reusing furniture or valuable components; Separating and recovering valuable materials, i.e. wood, plastics, foams, textiles, metals.; Developing and validating innovative final uses, also considering several technological levels to ensure the potential adoption in all European countries; Controlling the quality of the non-recyclable fraction, to be valorised as Recovered Solid Fuels or with advanced thermal technologies.
1. Studying and analysing the existing most representative European urban bulky waste collection and treatment models and practices, in order to:
o Enhancing and improving the inter-regional and trans-national knowledge transfer, based on practical experience and validated results, to promote the creation of European networks oriented to join the governmental politic strategies on waste, research efforts and industrial eco-efficient activities, to achieve a European sustainable circular economy.
o Identify gaps and improvements in the different models.
o Develop a flexible collection and treatment model to optimize the valorisation (material or energetic) of non-hazardous urban bulky waste, also improving existing models in an eco-efficient way.
2. Demonstration experiments in re-use products or components from bulky waste to introduce the idea of up-cycling, taking the old material and making a better product out of it. To promote the needed social challenge, the project will identify the educational and manufacturing gaps and will develop the skills to repair or redesign products by re-using old furniture or wooden products.
3. Demonstration of the viability of existing and emerging control, classification and treatment technologies, to be applied to the complex bulky waste flows (excluding waste of electric and electronic equipment, WEEE), increasing material recovery (rates and quality), with the minimum environmental impact (and best available technologies). This validation will be achieved by developing the following activities:
o Identification of legislation requirements and critical use parameters of the several potential final end-of-life and disposal options for non-hazardous waste: reuse, recycling (panel industry, textile sector, interiors design for transport sector and packaging applications) and habitat sector (construction elements, furniture, flooring, wall covering and decorations...) and energy valorisation (co-incineration, pyrolysis and gasification).
o Composition and physicochemical characterization of un-treated bulky urban waste flows.
o Demonstration of waste treatment improvement, developed in three iterative steps:
> Analysis and identification of technological options to separate valuable materials from input waste flows, eliminating contaminant materials from them according to the different output flows requirements.
> Development of demonstration experiences in several waste management facilities representing different European waste scenarios. It will include both, installation or adaptation of technical equipment, and implementation of operational procedures.
> Characterization of the related waste treatment output flows, according to final uses options.
> Calculation of waste treatment process eco-efficiency, material recovery rates and quality indicators in correlation with the management practices.
4. Development and validation through demonstration experiments, of the potential of several outputs from bulky waste treatment, both several degrees of mixed and separated material flows, in several final use applications. The innovation aspects will be, not only the substitution of traditional raw materials by recycled ones, but as far as possible, to avoid generated problems in productive systems due to the new raw materials, and to improve final products properties. To achieve this, energy efficiency and bio-economy objectives will be considered in new materials and applications development, through the use of eco-design strategies along the whole life cycle of the products. Potential final applications to be developed are listed below:
o Panel industry: flooring, wall covering and decorations, construction, packaging, furniture, interiors design.
o Wood Plastic Composites (WPC) (same final use sectors).
o Textile: carpets, curtains and other home textiles products.
o Foams: isolating panels, carpets underlayments, cushion materials in packaging, furniture, panels for acoustic and thermal insulation and flooring.
o To control quality of non-recyclable fraction, to be valorised as Recovered Solid Fuels (RSF) or by other emerging technologies: pyrolysis, gasification.
The knowledge transfer between different European models of waste treatment and the collaboration among actors of the supply chain will improve the framework policy regarding end of waste conditions for raw materials and will promote international cooperation.
The project will act on the 3 pillars of sustainability.
Environment: reducing the waste landfilling of urban bulky waste (excluding electric and electronic products) following the EU strategy on waste treatment: reuse, recycling and energy valorisation, as preferable final destinies to landfill; reducing the EU's dependency on imports of raw materials because bulky urban wastes are a resource of efficient and alternative materials that can be found all over, have stable prices and nowadays suppose an environmental problem to manage.
Social: Partnership between industry and society will come going towards a circular economy by promoting the re-use of furniture and by the development and use of innovative recycled products, by using flexible production systems and the best available technologies. This involves a cultural change regarding second hand products purchase and will facilitate the job creation, and the development of new skills.
Economy: The new developed eco-materials and the validated final applications will contribute to increase the competitiveness of high tech manufacturing industries. Waste treatment and disposal costs will be reduced through the efficient treatment technologies and adding value to the resulting recovered materials. This aspect will provide the added economic aspect to generate new market products with a by-product approach meaning using re-generated recycled materials as raw materials.
Main beneficiary sectors are: waste management, manufacturing industry, isolating to outdoor and indoor habitat sector and transport sector (automotive parts, packaging…). As complex multi-material end of life products, bulky wastes treatment model and recycling options will be easily moved to other habitat elements from automotive vehicles, or even packaging.
AIDIMA is the technical coordinator of the project. Besides AIDIMA participates in the analysis of the different European waste treatments and characterises the bulky waste input flows and the recovered materials from waste treatment processes as well. AIDIMA collaborates in the development of new composites and evaluates the mechanical properties and the environmental impact (LCA) of the final products prototypes (packaging, furniture, etc.).