Digitalization meets recycling: research team develops tool with recyclate data

Digitalization can massively promote the circular economy. Together with its partners GreenDelta, Cirplus and the Wuppertal Institute, the SKZ Plastics Center has now completed a project that facilitates the use of recyclates. Companies can now use a tool to find and evaluate suitable secondary materials.

Together with its partners GreenDelta, Cirplus and the Wuppertal Institute, the SKZ from Würzburg started the project Circularity Optimization for Plastics (CYCLOPS) in 2021, which has now been completed in 2023. "The ambitious goal of CYCLOPS was to provide buyers and sellers of recycled or waste plastics with a user-friendly tool that allows them to compare materials quickly and easily. The decision to use recycled plastics will be supported by concrete arguments," says Max Meister, Founding Associate at Cirplus.

Many small steps
To achieve this, the last two years of research have involved many small steps - such as evaluating listings and material data, creating software with a strict focus on usability, many tests and countless data comparisons, criteria and definitions. Work that has paid off: The CYCLOPS tool provides information on recyclate applications, achievable prices and their influencing factors, as well as the environmental benefits of recyclates. The overall result is a user-friendly tool that provides a quick overview when comparing sources of recycled and virgin plastic.

A meaningful contribution to climate protection
Recycling saves up to 90 percent of CO2 emissions compared to new products - and thus makes a meaningful contribution to climate protection in addition to avoiding waste and conserving resources. "CYCLOPS is a milestone in breaking down existing barriers in the recycling market," says Jan Werner, Group Manager Sustainable and Circular Products at SKZ. "The feedback from the first validations at trade fairs has been very promising. We hope to make further valuable contributions in future projects to achieve the transition to a circular economy through coordinated recycling flows."

The CYCLOPS tool is freely available.

Learn more about the circular economy research area

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