The fourth GREEN-LOOP General Partners Meeting – 19/20 March 2024 – Vicenza (Italy)

The fourth GREEN-LOOP General Partners Meeting was held in Vicenza, Italy, hosted by Guala Closures and Mixcycling on 19th and 20th March 2024.

Over the two days, the GREEN-LOOP consortium presented advancements in their research activities on manufacturing technologies for bio-based materials to support:

  • The implementation of the co-programmed European “Made in Europe Partnership” where the “Research and Innovation Action” is funded within the Horizon Europe framework.
  • The contribution to the “2020 Circular Economy Action Plan” that aims to make sustainable products the norm in the EU.

This emerging field of research combines engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, and material science, enabling the production of bio-based products.

The partners confirmed their R&D activities are particularly interesting for the green transition of the economy. They’re focusing on sustainable products made from bio-based materials that are easy to recycle and reduce the environmental footprint of waste streams. Three innovative bio-based materials and components are being designed and optimised in the manufacturing processes: 

  • Multifunctional fire-retardant and anti-vibration panels from bio-rubber.
  • Bottle caps for the beverage sectors from bio-plastic.
  • Sliding bearings for industrial tools from wood composites.

To build a truly sustainable manufacturing industry, the research activities are addressing the following areas:

Optimisation and improvement of smart manufacturing processes with injection moulding and extrusion to unlock the full potential of bio-based materials, such as biopolymers and other fibre-based materials. This includes using carbon-positive bio-based materials, like wood composites and rubber, in various products to achieve high technical performance while lowering the environmental impact.
Demonstrations and use cases for transitions towards green manufacturing technologies incorporating bio-based materials with a significant reduction in the environmental footprint across the entire manufacturing and/or product lifecycle.
Addressing standardization activities of bio-based materials and adapting characterisation methods and quality controls for bio-based materials in their different formats and applications.
From a dissemination and exploitation perspective, GREEN-LOOP confirmed collaboration with existing projects, particularly with BIO-MATTERS project members.

The research has yielded positive results in developing food packaging materials, creating sustainable caps. This opens doors to replacing plastic in other areas where, until now, no other material has guaranteed the same performance in terms of strength, hygiene, and the ability to take on various shapes.

 

On the second day, study visits to Guala Closures and Mixcicling plants in Breganze provided all partners with a state-of-the-art view of R&D for bottle closures for spirits and olive oil in the packaging, food, and beverage sectors.

These bottle closures will use 100% biodegradable materials – bio-based raw materials, including natural fibers and biodegradable thermoplastic carriers. Bottle closures will be first validated at laboratory scale, testing different natural fibers collected from the agro-industry supply chain. Once the most suitable bio-composite material is selected, representative samples or components will be manufactured for integration into real-condition tests within a bottling system.

Microwave technology will be the core of the manufacturing innovation. Characterization and standardization activities will be undertaken, and the entire value chain will be monitored by the environmental and circularity partners, ensuring green manufacturing.

These technologies provide a valid alternative to conventional materials with a substantially lower environmental impact across a range of applications. As demonstrated by the four Italian private companies invited by NSBproject and Mixcycling, this value chain could be replicated in other sectors like cosmetics packaging, housewares, interior design elements, and furniture.

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