EU spends millions of euros on reducing plastic waste – Smart Innovation Norway is partner

The Plastics2Olefins project aims to recycle plastic waste into high-value materials. Being one of the most significant research projects for Smart Innovation Norway, the company’s researchers are excited to participate in this interesting Horizon Europe project.

– The Plastics2Olefins is an exciting project, and it brings several industries, research institutes, and academia together to tackle plastic waste challenges. Smart Innovation Norway will capitalize on the knowledge and experiences gained from the key project outcomes and support industrial clusters to solve recycling plastic waste challenges, say Dr Alemu Moges Belay, Project responsible, WP and tasks leader, and Heidi Tuiskula, Section Head of Energy Systems at Smart Innovation Norway.

In line with the European Green Deal goals, the European Commission has set a concrete action plan to transform the European economy towards a sustainable and circular economy to become climate neutral by 2050 and to take global leadership in climate-friendly technologies. In this connection, one cross-cutting action plan to drive the transition is through research, innovation, and digitalization. Typically, one promising technology to recycle unsorted heterogeneous plastic waste is pyrolysis, i.e. the thermal degradation of plastic waste in the absence of oxygen.

According to the World Economic Forum, about 4-8% of annual global oil consumption is associated with plastics. Plastics2Olefins aims to demonstrate a novel plastics recycling process based on high-temperature pyrolysis, as the main product will be a gas stream instead of a liquid, so it will reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 70% compared to existing plastics recycling processes for unsorted plastic waste. It also will decrease by more than 80% compared to the current end-of-life options for these wastes, i.e., incineration.

The project will realize this in a two-step approach: First by adapting and testing a scaled pilot plant at Repsol Technology Lab to optimize the components and process conditions, and finally, a pioneering full-scale industrial demonstration plant at Repsol’s petrochemical site, which will be operated in a six-months validation campaign. To optimize the carbon footprint of such a plant, the project will design and construct a plant that can be fully electrified by renewably generated electricity.

The project will validate TRL7 (technology readiness level 1-9) and aims to:

  • Define an optimal pre-treatment process and heterogeneous plastic waste streams to ensure a high yield of olefins during production.
  • Optimize the pyrolysis downstream process to achieve quality products and valorize the outputs in the different markets (circular plastic/textiles, low carbon footprint solid fuel).
  • Design, build and run a demonstration plant to recycle unsorted plastic waste at Repsol’s petrochemical site (Spain), which will run on 100% renewable (electric) energy and be digitalized to achieve system integration and optimization.
  • Develop the concept for scalability and replicability of the technology in Europe and other geographic regions (ASEAN countries).
  • Co-create replicable learning modules and train current and future workforce at the local and regional levels.
Facts about the project Plastics2Olefins:
  • The project involves 13 partners from 7 different countries for a 5-years project duration (2022-2027).
  • Its total budget is EUR 33,258,033, and will receive funding from the EU of EUR 18,084,895.
  • Partners involved: Repsol, Técnicas Reunidas, ETIA, VTT, Lafarge Holcim, PREZERO, CIEMAT, Smart Innovation Norway, Arttic, Denmark Technical University, SCGC Chemicals, Universidad Castilla La Mancha
  • Smart Innovation Norway leads the work package focusing on exploitation, stakeholder engagement, communication, dissemination & training. In addition, we contribute to the cost-benefit analysis and replication potential of Plastics2Olefins technology in other tasks and WPs.
  • The project kick-off meeting was on June 14-15, and the project officially started on the 1st of June 2022.
  • Plastics2Olefins (Recycling plastic waste into high-value materials – Closing the Loop) was selected for Horizon Europe under Framework Programme call HORIZON-CL4-2021-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-17: Plastic waste as a circular carbon feedstock for industry (Processes4Planet Partnership).
Related contact:

Dr. Alemu Moges Belay
Senior Researcher Sustainable Energy


Phone: +47 970 30 354