Promoting Innovation in Manufacturing

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The START project is developing a dry cleaning unit that can be retro-fitted to machinery and logistical software, to reduce transport costs and improve recycling effectiveness within the farming industry.

Agricultural films are vital to modern farming practices and without them high levels of food production could not be achieved. However, Europe generates 720,000 tonnes of used film, 265,000 tonnes of which are difficult to recycle due to soilage content.The films themselves are highly engineered materials and represent a high value material that should be recycled at the end of life.

Across the EU, is it currently estimated that only 22% of agricultural films are recycled, due to contamination from soil, mud, stones, silage, pesticides and agricultural nutrients, which are contaminants to the recycling process.

This leads to a lost opportunity for the agricultural and reprocessing sectors, with up to 80% of used film contaminated, also resulting in shipping large quantities of farmer’s fields around Europe.

The START project is overcoming these issues and developing a novel approach to cleaning films, enabling a higher percentage of waste materials to be recycled.

This is happening through:

  • The development of a wastemanagement technology that allows farmers to achieve their recycling goals and enables the waste management and reprocessing companies to make agricultural waste film recycling commercially viable.
  • The development of an innovative dry-cleaning technology to manufacture a transportable film cleaning unit that can be used to remove contaminated material from used film before transportation.
  • The development of an inter-related logistical software to optimise the waste collection process and further minimise transport costs, energy usage and environmental impact.

The technology will achieve significantly lower environmental impacts compared to current methods of recycling and waste disposal.

These include:

  • Improved air quality for breathing
  • Reduced soil pollution
  • Global warming
  • Depletion of fossil fuel resources
  • 86% reduction in tonne-kilometres
  • Elimination of transport in shipping soil back to land.