EU R&D and Innovations

Novamont Joins Embraced Project

Closing the loop for Absorbent Hygiene Products waste. 10,000 tons/year of Absorbent Hygiene Products (baby diapers, fem care, adult incontinence) waste that will be upcycled into valuable materials.

The scope of the innovative project EMBRACED is to demonstrate, in a relevant industrial environment, a circular model of an integrated biorefinery based on the valorization of the cellulosic fraction of post-consumer Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHP) waste towards the production of biobased building blocks, polymers, and fertilizers.

Modern Absorbent Hygiene Products (baby diapers, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products) improve quality of life, provide great protection, and can support the skin health of millions of people.

Made of high quality nonwoven fabrics, they provide help prevent from leakage, and contribute to the comfort and convenience of good hygiene on a daily basis

The Challenge

Absorbent Hygiene Products (AHPs) have become essential everyday products to society and their use has increased substantially.

As with every consumer product, also AHP’s end up in solid waste after their use.

Today, they represent approx. 2-4% of the total Municipal Solid waste and it’s considered a non-recyclable fraction, which is usually incinerated or landfilled.

Over the past 20 years there has been great progress by AHPs manufacturers to reduce the environmental impact of AHPs, for example, the average weight of baby diapers was reduced by around 50%.

However, to meet society’s needs for sustainable consumption there is further innovation required: Fater has developed and patented an innovative recycling solution for post-consumer AHP waste creating secondary raw materials for higher value applications.

This is already demonstrated through an industrial scale unit based in Lovadina di Spresiano (Treviso – Italy).

What is Embraced?

Embraced is an EU funded project, involving 13 partners partners from businesses, academia, and research institutions.

It is aimed at closing the loop for AHP waste, reducing greenhouse gases emission and increasing sustainability in Europe.

The objective of the project is the establishment of a first-of-its-kind demonstration plant of an integrated biorefinery in Amsterdam, based on the valorization of the cellulosic fraction of post-consumer AHP waste towards the production of bio-based building blocks, polymers and fertilizers.

Embraced will operate valorizing all the fractions from the process, to obtain marketable end-products fully competitive in terms of cost, quality and sustainability.

Importantly, the project will follow a circular economy approach, closing the cycle of raw materials and minimizing the use of primary resources, through the establishment of virtuous models of cooperation among all the involved stakeholders.

Project approach

  • Cascading Approach: all fractions from the process will be valorized to obtain marketable end-products fully competitive with the respective fossil-based counterparts or other benchmark biobased products, in terms of cost, quality and sustainability
  • Circular Economy Approach: the cycle of raw materials will be closed and the use of primary resources will be minimized through the establishment of virtuous models of cooperation among the stakeholders involved along the whole value chain

Main Project Objectives

Feedstock

  • Recovery of 3 high purity fractions: cellulose, plastic fraction and Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP)
  • Enhanced quality of cellulose by reducing the SAP content from 50% to 5%

Conversion of AHP waste cellulose into building blocks and polymers

  • Demonstration of an innovative pretreatment technology for the obtaining of fermentable sugars from AHP waste cellulose to be converted through first of its kind biotech process into biobased building blocks of industrial interest
  • Demonstration of conversion of syngas from AHP waste into biodegradable Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)
  • Demonstration of biobased and biodegradable polyesters formulation suitable for packaging applications

Validation into final products:

  • Recycled plastic fraction into plastic bins and caps, deactivated cells from PHB fermentation into organic fertilizers, PHB into medical devices, biobased polyesters into films for non-food packaging applications, recycled SAP into innovative absorbent underpads

Recovery of high value molecules & production of bio-energy:

  • Design of a system for recovery of phosphate, ammonium, potassium and urea contained in wastewater from AHP pretreatment process
  • Valorisation of by-products from fermentation into bio-energy production

Other Data

  • € 10,500,000 EU funding € 17,200,000 total cost
  • 60 months
  • 7 countries involved
  • 13 consortium partners

Partners

  • Novamont
  • Legambiente
  • Fraunhofer
  • P&G
  • Saponia
  • AEB Amsterdam

embraced project eu novamont

 

REFS

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