The launch and presentation of the European project MANDALA took place on the 5th and 6th of June in Zaragoza.
Plastics production has continued to increase since the 1950s, reaching 322 million tons in 2015, however, on a global scale only 14% of plastic containers used are recycled, while 72% is not recovered at all: 40% are dumped in landfills and 32% filter out of the collection system. Thus, a huge challenge for society is to promote the recycling, reuse and recovery of these plastic materials. The MANDALA project proposes a sustainable solution, which will promote the concept of a circular economy.
Recycling has indeed become one of the most important challenges of this century, but with the present unsustainable, post-consumption scenario statistics show that we are still far from reaching the optimum goal of a circular economy.
One particular challenge for innovation in technological packaging design is that of multi-layer and multi-material packaging, which is based on the combination of diverse properties to provide solutions for the requirements of the pharmaceutical and food sector, mainly focused on extending the shelf life of their products. The high complexity of these containers means they are much more difficult to recycle, causing them to end up in landfills or incineration plants.
The European project MANDALA presents a sustainable solution for the plastic packaging sector, focusing on 3 fundamental pillars: eco-design, dual functionality and end of life, with the aim of finding a sustainable and effective solution for multi-layer packaging in the medium term, insofar as recycling conventional plastic materials as well as the use of biopolymers. MANDALA will develop a sustainable packaging format, which in addition to satisfying business needs thanks to its barrier properties, its design will facilitate recycling as it will be possible to separate the multiple layers through the development of a thermo-reversible adhesive.
Berta Gonzalvo, Director of Research at the AITIIP Foundation and coordinator of the MANDALA project, states that "MANDALA will become a watershed for the industrial sector and society, as it offers a sustainable and equally effective alternative to conventional multi-layer packaging. The results will also be transferred to other applications and plastic products contributing to the generation of employment and growth. "
The MANDALA project is an ambitious project that will be executed over the next 42 months with a budget of over four million euros, co-financed by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program. The project consortium consists of 12 entities from 5 different countries: Spain, Norway, Croatia, Greece and Italy, bringing together 4 technology centres, 2 large companies, 5 SMEs and 1 Agrifood Cluster.