Opportunities for reuse of waste

Researchers at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research still see many opportunities for high-quality reuse of consumer waste. Four points are important for this:

  • Design products and materials so that they can be recycled with the available collection and processing processes.
  • Collect separately as much as possible (separation at source), because that provides the best quality for reuse.
  • Keep the recyclable materials as clean as possible by separating disruptive substances (such as ink and dirt) from the main product as thoroughly as possible, because this improves the quality of the new material.
  • Maintain the unique functionality of every waste stream, as well as possible.

Strength, toughness, odour and colour

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has expertise in the properties of recycled materials, separation processes and the circularity that is required. What about the strength, toughness, odour and colour of the recyclable material, how can you process it and what criteria must it meet to make a new product? Can you mechanically or chemically recycle the material, leaving the building blocks for new materials that you can use again? And what does recycling mean in terms of organisation, economics and the environment? For example, this spring, WUR’s research into the recycling of paper coffee cups revealed that recycling has fewer environmental costs than fermentation and composting of the cups.

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