Innovative technology to recycle post-consumer waste plastic film

Accelerating flexible plastic film recycling

One of four winners of the 2020 Ecosurety Exploration Fund, the BOSS 2D project is building on the proven innovation of the Baffled Oscillation Separation System (BOSS), previously used to successfully sort rigid plastics. If the vast array of flexible plastic film used as packaging wrappers can be accurately and efficiently sorted into uncontaminated, material specific waste streams, they can be recycled instead of incinerated. BOSS 2D will enable that to happen for the first time.

The least recycled material

Just 4% of post-consumer flexible plastic film is currently recycled in the UK, by far the lowest percentage recycling by category. This compares to 50% for plastic bottles. Existing state of the art technology cannot easily identify laminate and multi-layer material, which together can account for up to 20% of the post-consumer flexible plastic film fraction. With no automated separation solution available on the market, film is either sent for incineration or exported to overseas markets.

Harmful contaminants

Laminate and multi-layer plastic film, which often looks identical to single layer film, are harmful contaminants in the recycling process if unsorted - clogging screens, interrupting production and preventing film recycling on a large scale.

If not incinerated, the unsorted plastic film is exported. Export channels are narrowing however, as a result of more scrutiny on the part of the Environment Agency in the UK. Shipments are also being returned by foreign governments who rightly no longer want to deal with waste from first world countries ending up in landfill and waterways, creating long term local and international environmental problems.

Trapped in a linear economy

Because plastic film cannot be easily recycled, the elements of the post-consumer plastic film packaging supply chain in the UK - manufacture, consumption and disposal - act independently from one another in a single-use linear economy model, with no link to create a circular alternative.

Recycled material must also meet high purity standards to be considered as a replacement for virgin polymer. All together this explains why virgin polymer is the most widely used material for plastic film packaging in the consumer goods industry today. 



A viable solution, sorted

The new, disruptive BOSS 2D technology will establish the first commercial scale automated process to sort and recycle plastic film. It will be capable of identifying and separating post-consumer flexible plastic film to produce a high purity PE and PP film, allowing it to be used directly in consumer products.

Enabling a circular economy for plastic film

Using nothing but water and specially designed processing equipment, BOSS 2D can separate post-consumer flexible plastic film, with the first technical goal being to remove laminated and multilayer film from “prime” polyolefin film. Further refinements for other specific film types will follow.

If the various film types have been accurately separated they can be recycled without fear of contamination. Ultimately, BOSS 2D will enable a move to a scalable, circular economy for post-consumer plastic film.

Minimising barriers to use

The BOSS 2D technology is intended to be licensed to any third party recycler who will be able to fit the technology onto the end of an existing film wash line, or to completely replace the sink float tank trains in large scale film processes.

In this way the relatively simple solution can help to revolutionise plastic film recycling without reinventing the wheel, minimising barriers to use.



“We are delighted to receive grant funding from the Ecosurety Exploration Fund for the development of the BOSS 2D technology. Recycling post-consumer waste film plastic is one of the biggest challenges our industry faces and now with this funding from Ecosurety we can accelerate the roll out of the BOSS 2D technology to provide a scalable automated solution.” David Walsh Photo David Walsh CEO, Impact Recycling

About Impact Recycling

Impact Recycling, established in 2014, has previously developed a breakthrough plastic recycling technology called BOSS 3D which separates post-consumer mixed rigid plastic waste to recover two consistent streams of post-consumer resin (PCR), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), each with a 98% purity. Their technology is designed to be financially profitable, technically feasible, and good for investors, the environment and the community at large.
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Enabling tomorrow's solutions

The BOSS 2D project has been funded by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund which is investing £1million in projects that aim to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, batteries or WEEE through innovation or research in the UK. The fund is the first such opportunity to be launched by a UK compliance scheme. It builds on Ecosurety’s experience in supporting innovative projects and new technologies across the waste and recycling sector.
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