CIMPA: making multilayer plastic films circular


Multilayer plastic films are widely used for food packaging (2 Mt/year) and in agriculture (0.6 Mt/year). By combining several layers of different materials (PET, PE, PA, aluminium, etc.), multilayer plastic films in packaging ensure food safety and high-quality, fresh food products, thereby extending the shelf life of food. In agriculture, they are used as barrier fumigation and cover silage films.

However, their complex structures pose problems for current recycling systems and so several million tonnes of multilayer films are incinerated or dumped into landfills every year.

CIMPA, an EU-funded H2020 project, aims to develop a recycling chain for post-industrial and post-consumer multilayer films from food and agricultural applications. This complex approach combines innovative compositional sorting, mechanical and physical recycling and an advanced decontamination process.

A key objective is to produce recycled materials compliant with agriculture and food contact applications, validated for environmental and health safety. Preliminary estimations show that CIMPA will have significant positive impacts not only on the economy, but also on the environment.

CIMPA brings together 13 partners from five countries, covering the entire value chain:

  • a waste management company (PAPREC)
  • sorting technology providers (Filigrade and Pellenc ST)
  • research institutes (IPC, AIMPLAS, VTT and TNO)
  • multilayer film producers (Eversia, Leygatech, Barbier)
  • an institute for consumer attitude studies (Prospex)
  • consultants (Benkei), and
  • the European confederation representing the recycling industry (EuRIC).
Main activity field
Main results

CIMPA aims to develop a recycling value chain for post-industrial and post-consumer multilayer films from food and agricultural applications. The chain will retain 12 to 72% of the films' value yield, based on a synergetic approach combining:

  • innovative compositional sorting (combining NIR- and digital watermarking sorting)
  • mechanical and physical (dissolution) recycling
  • a decontamination process, and
  • upgrading (advanced scCO2-based decontamination, properties tuning) solutions.
  • Up to 2.34 Mt/year of recycled materials will be saved and fed back into the production chain.

CIMPA will retain up to EUR 2.2 M per year of multilayer plastic film value in the economy, and reduce CO2 emissions by 2.1 Mt/year, equivalent to 0.15% of EU CO2 emissions.