Environment, zero plastic is the goal of the eCircular project led by Unibo
Optimizing the life cycle of plastic products, reducing waste production thanks to digital technologies is the objective of the eCircular project, led by the University of Bologna.
Funded with more than 6 million euro, the programme is promoted by Climate-KIC, the European community connecting institutions, universities and companies to respond, through knowledge and innovation, to the challenges of climate change and the creation of low-carbon societies.
The project aims to help reduce plastic pollution: a major problem when you look at the numbers. For example, 49 million tons of plastic waste were produced in Europe in 2015 alone, of which 40% used for packaging. Of this waste, less than 40% is recycled, more than 30% is incinerated and the remaining is landfilled.
All this at a considerable cost, estimated to be around 105 billion euro per year at European level. To reverse this trend, the project coordinated by the University of Bologna focuses on digital technologies: useful tools to improve market transparency, reduce the fragmentation of knowledge and regulation while increasing the effectiveness of processes such as reuse and remanufacturing.
“The goal is the decarbonization of economic processes for a prosperous, fair and sustainable society”, explained Alberto Bellini, project coordinator and professor at the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering of the University of Bologna. “The strong point will be the use of digital technologies: it is, in fact, an international and interdisciplinary project that embraces both the social sciences, with a focus on the circular economy, and the technical and technological sciences”.
In particular, eCircular intends to launch pilot projects for ‘smart’ manufacturing, advanced eco-design, business models and alternative consumption patterns, in view of new process standards.
The project is coordinated by the University of Bologna and involves Wuppertal Institute (Germany), Lund University (Sweden), Montanuniversitaet Leoben (Austria) and Ecomatters (The Netherlands). Other partners are the French public services giant Veolia; the German environmental services company Remondis; GS1, the Italian body authorised to issue barcodes; the company Dedagroup for digital innovation; the wine company CAVIRO Group; the network of companies Plastics Recycling Europe; the French National Institute for Agricultural Research - INRA.