The Ecobulk consortium met for the last time in its official project capacity on the 19th of November. The partners huddled aound their warm monitors in the shortening days of autumn for one last update on the work done, the successes achieved and the plans for the future. In this newsletter we will tell you more about the unsung heros of the circular economy who provide the tools, processes and enabling technologies for circular products to even be possible.
The circular economy redirects waste streams to resources. But for others to make use of those new resources is a complicated coordination and information challenge – which requires deep connectivity and data integration. Therefore, you could say that digital technologies provide the basis for the development of circular business models.
When a product is nearing the end of its useful life, in a traditional model it is quite simple: the end-user disposes of the product and is not concerned with making choices about the fate of the product. One step beyond this, we have a recycling model where the user may need to make a choice on the means disposal according to some simple material separation rules. This can already be quite a burden. With circularity, where we strive to make recycling a last resort, there are many more choices and the decisions that must be made are therefore much more complex. That is why a stakeholder platform has been created that can help in making those decisions, but also to collect the information necessary to make the optimal decisions.
Read all about the Ecobulk Stakeholder Platform.
One of the key issues when dealing with any change, in particular when challenging a well-established linear economy model, is to demonstrate that it is not only possible, but profitable as well. It is true that in most cases the effort to collect, treat, recycle and remanufacture does not seem economically viable, but that is where different and more creative business models can be applied. In this article we will discuss the business models being considered for the Ecobulk demonstrators.
The business cases are also based on the design, or sometimes perhaps the other way around. Both the design and the business model in the end must fit into each other. Above you will see the value hill, which represents how both the design and business model must create avenues to maintain value as high as possible for as long as possible. True circularity is king of the hill.
Read more about the business models for the demonstrators.
The project is now ending, so the only event left in our calendar is the final event. Find out more about that here. Read on for some of the events that have taken place in this last part of the project.
ECOBULK was at the PRSE2021 show in Amsterdam at the end of last week on the 4th and 5th of November, in full project presentation mode. A stand, together with sister SPIRE project MultiCycle, was set up promoting the latest developments and getting interest from the industry. On display were production samples from the Ecobulk automotive sector partners that have been testing different strategies to increase circularity for internal car parts. Also, Jelle Joustra, from TUDelft was on hand for a presentation on the design aspects of the demonstrators.
Project partner KNEIA organised a project cluster workshop together with several other EU projects including DECOAT, Plasticircle, and FIBERUSE. The webinar, titled Walk the Talk, was an opportunity not just to present some of the interesting work done by these projects, but hopefully also to exchange knowledge and inspire the different consortiums to learn from each other.
If you missed it, the presentations were recorded and are available to view here.
During the ISWA World Congress, a special session was organised to bring together different projects tackling circularity for plastics. This innovation showcase brought together the projects Decoat, MultiCycle, Alma and of course Ecobulk. After the project presentations, there were questions and discussion together with the moderator of the session, Arne Ragossnig, ISWA Vice President. Ecobulk was represented by Markku Vilkki, who talked about the demonstrators and with a focus on his own work with circular materials from GFRP waste.
His presentation can be seen here.
TUDelft, after working on the design strategies redux which we announced earlier, then went on to continue their quest to support other product designers and manufacturers in designing for better composite circularity. The guide has been made into a useful tool and quick reference on the different strategies available to increase circularity.
The reader is quickly introduced tot he background and the value hill model is useful to think about when coming up with concepts. It then lists, handily explains and illustrates the 26 design aspects using examples from Ecobulk and beyond. It finishes with a brief presentation of tools and methods that were developed or used to support circular design.
It will be available online as an open source resource, and limited printed copies will be distributed to the consortium as part of the project legacy.
Oakdene Hollins has produced a special report, “Driving change: A circular economy for automotive plastic” which presents their research into the market aspects of developing a circular economy for plastic in the automotive sector and offers some recommendations.
The report is based on their work as part of Ecobulk, and also incorporates some of the (public) results from work on the project from Bellver, AIMPLAS and Tomra.
The analysis provides an in-depth review of vehicle plastic use and plastic waste, and a comprehensive assessment of end markets for automotive plastic recyclates. It focuses on the three major polymers used in vehicles: Polypropylene (PP), Polyurethane (PU), and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).
Find and read the report here.
With the finishing of the project this month, this will be the last Ecobulk newsletter. It will of course not be the last you hear form Ecobulk, at least if you come to our Final Conference. But in any case, the legacy of the project will live on with the knowldege, tools and demonstrations it has produced.
We would like to offer our most sincere gratitude for your attention and support, most of all of course our thanks to EUH2020 platform that has kindly funded this amazing project.