In order to sustainably improve the environmental balance of paper production, the EnEWA research project is pursuing the approach of accessing new sources for environmentally friendly waste paper recycling and making them usable. Therefore, the Institute for Anthropogenic Material Cycles (ANTS) at RWTH Aachen University and the Chair of International Production Engineering and Management (IPEM) at the University of Siegen are researching a solution together with the industrial partners Tomra Sorting GmbH, STADLER Anlagenbau GmbH and PROPAKMA GmbH as well as the paper producer LEIPA Group GmbH. The central element of the research project is to investigate the potential for recovering paper fibers from mixed waste streams (light packaging waste, commercial waste and residual waste) for paper production. Currently, paper-based packaging from the food industry already has a significant share with an increasing trend. The possibility of recovering the fibers from this lightweight packaging would contribute to increased acceptance among producers and consumers - and thus to increased use of these packaging solutions. This way, the amount of available recycled fibers can be increased by an addtional material flow for the benefit of the environment, people and the circular economy. In addition, the utilization of paper that is incorrectly disposed of, especially in private households - the so-called misdirected waste - is being examined in order to also process this into new recycled paper.
In the EnEWA project, those involved in the project are dealing with the various phases of waste paper collection, recovery and reprocessing. Following an analysis of the recovered paper grades and recovered paper composites to be recovered and their quality within the framework of material flow analyses, the necessary sorting technology will be developed and adapted in the second project phase. Subsequently, a process for the hygienization and preparation of the paper fibers will be developed.
In the project, ANTS combines applied research with a focus on material flow characterization and links primary data collection with ecological evaluation and modeling of the processes. In addition, the recyclability of the rejects is analyzed and tested. The ecological assessment is carried out alongside the project and ensures that the recycling process promotes the development towards a circular economy. A scenario analysis also shows different possibilities for the recycling process and provides significant impulses for process modeling. The recycling of rejects is an important step towards closing the entire cycle in the long term.
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
Project partners are the Chair of International Production Engineering and Management (IPEM) at the University of Siegen, Tomra Sorting GmbH, STADLER Anlagenbau GmbH, PROPAKMA GmbH and LEIPA Group GmbH.