MERLIN: a project increasing the quality and rate of multilayer packaging recycling waste


The MERLIN project (Increasing the quality and rate of MultilayER packaging recycLINg waste) aims at designing innovative solutions for all the processes required to increase the quality and rate of recycled plastic materials coming from multi-layer packaging waste:

  • SORTING - combining optical sensors, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics
  • DELAMINATION - optimizing depolymerisation and using solvent-based processes
  • RECYCLING - techniques for repolymerization and upcycling of polymers
  • VALIDATION - developing rigid and flexible packaging solutions and demonstrating circularity of the processes.

In tune with the current growth rate of the smart waste management market, MERLIN’s new solutions will meet the requests by growing number of plants that are seeking effective solutions aligned with the EU regulatory framework. In this sense, MERLIN represents a very timely development of new sorting, delaminating and recycling solutions for multi-layer packaging based on PET and/or polyolefins, which are cost-efficient and offer high performance to move towards "green" waste management systems.

This will be complemented with additional techniques and tools for circularity design to increase knowledge and effectiveness in the closure of the European multilayer plastic chain. It will also result in major business opportunities reinforced by current multi-layer rigid and flexible packaging market trends, growth in the target end-use sectors, increased visibility, policy awareness and support for these solutions.

Main results
  • Recover and recycle the 3,03 Mt/year of multi-layer packaging waste in EU, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on imported fossil fuels
  • Save up to 7,42 Mt CO2/year in carbon footprint by recycling all the multi-layer waste in EU
  • Have an economic impact of €10 605 million/year on the EU economy, considering that manufactured products based on recycled plastic have an average market price in the range of €1,8-5/kg and that there is a volume of 3,03 Mt of non-recovered multi-layer plastic packaging
  • Create over 47 133 new jobs per year, considering a rate of job creation of 1 job per €225 000 of additional turnover
  • Boost the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic by 2025, as proposed by the Circular Plastics Alliance.