Horizon Europe (2021 - 2027)

Recycling bio-based plastics increasing sorting and recycled content (upcycling)

Last update: May 28, 2024 Last update: May 28, 2024


Location:EU 27EU 27
Contracting Authority Type:Development Institution
Award ceiling: N/A
Award floor: N/A
Sector:Pollution & Waste Management (incl. treatment)
Eligible applicants:Unrestricted / Unspecified
Eligible nationalities:Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, A ... See more Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dem. Rep. Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Commonwealth of, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, French Southern Territory, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine / West Bank & Gaza, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Date posted: Apr 26, 2023

Attachments 3


Call updates

Apr 26, 2023 12:02:54 PM

The submission session is now available for: HORIZON-JU-CBE-2023-IA-04(HORIZON-JU-IA)


Recycling bio-based plastics increasing sorting and recycled content (upcycling).


Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
Call: Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (HORIZON-JU-CBE-2023)
Type of action: HORIZON-JU-IA HORIZON JU Innovation Actions
Type of MGA: HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]
Deadline model: single-stage
Planned opening date: 26 April 2023
Deadline date: 20 September 2023 17:00:00 Brussels time

In line with the objectives of the Circular Economy Action Plan, Plastics Strategy and Waste Framework Directive, successful proposals will make available effective recycling technologies for bio-based plastics. Successful proposals will also contribute to the Zero pollution action plan and the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.

Project results should contribute to the following expected outcomes:

Improved circularity and resource efficiency via practical application of the circular (bio)economy concept in the bio-based plastics value chain
Increased recycled content in new products from bio-based plastics
Effective sorting and recycling schemes for bio-based plastic materials
Significant improvement environmental performance across the value chain against specified fossil and/or bio-based benchmarks
Social acceptance of circular bio-based solutions and products
Bio-based plastic waste does not yet constitute a relevant amount of the total plastic waste (being only 1% in weight[1]), but due to their high weight in the political agenda it is easy to foresee that bio-based plastics will gain a relevant market share in the near future. However, there is a broad range of partially or fully bio-based plastic materials and products with different molecular structures and properties. If – performance wise – this broad range of materials available offers exciting opportunities to develop highly functional products, on the side of end-of-life considerations it represents a challenge. Some bio-based plastics are chemically equivalent to fossil-based ones and can follow the same recycling routes, others are only partially compatible with existing recycling processes, further others need the development of new processes. Some of them are biodegradable, others are compostable, others are neither of the two.

Besides the technical challenges related to the recycling process itself, scale is also a challenge. For some materials, such as PLA, recycling technologies are available when they are rather homogenous industrial waste streams; their implementation in post-consumer waste treatment is however hampered by bio-based being only a small fraction of the overall highly inhomogeneous plastic stream. Another challenge lies in establishing an efficient collection and sorting process. Plastic recycling is overall a challenge in Europe, with less than 14% of plastic consumption recycled domestically. Bio-based plastic is part of this picture, although still relatively a small fraction (1%) but with forecast of high growth. Labelling is not yet there to distinguish fossil-based from bio-based plastics, and the streams are collected together. A partial exception in this picture is biodegradable plastic which is labelled after EN 13432 or similar certification schemes indicating that such plastic is compostable in industrial composting plants or in home-composting reactors[2]. The expected end-of-life of compostable plastic is to be collected together with bio-waste and to be composted.

All these challenges require establishing collection and sorting strategies for bio-based plastics that are compatible with current waste management practices and recycling techniques that allow recycling bio-based plastics into new materials.

The scope of this topic focusses on the recycling of bio-based plastics which are not already recycled with the conventional (fossil-based) plastics (bio-based PET, for example, is recycled with fossil-based PET). This means that bio-based plastics made of ‘drop-ins’ polymers are excluded from the scope.

Proposals under this topic should:

Develop sorting and separation systems for isolating dedicated bio-based plastics from the mixed bio-based and fossil-based plastics streams (when applicable, as an enabler for conversion of the bio-based polymer fraction)
Develop, upscale and deploy innovative recycling technologies[3] or adapt, optimise and deploy existing ones for bio-based plastics
Demonstrate integration of the recycling process(es) at relevant scale inside a real waste management plant
Target as much as possible the same grade for the recycled as the virgin product (e.g. keeping food grade), or upgrade the resulting stream into higher-value products (e.g. using them as fermentation feedstock for conversion into chemicals, materials)
Assess the market uptake potential of recycled bio-based plastic products.
Assess the integration of the developed sorting and recycling technologies with current waste management practices. Involvement of waste management companies/authorities should be envisaged.
Integrate a task to perform assessment based on the safe-and-sustainable-by-design (SSbD) framework, developed by the European Commission, for assessing the safety and sustainability of chemicals and materials[4]. Under this context, projects are expected to contribute with and develop recommendations that can advance further the application of the SSbD framework[5].
Proposals must implement the multi-actor approach and demonstrate the involvement of all concerned key actors, such as waste management companies, packaging producers and brand owners.

Proposals should also describe their contribution to the Specific CBE JU requirements, presented in section, and the cross-cutting elements, highlighted in section of the CBE JU Annual Work Programme 2023[6].

Where relevant, proposals should seek links with and capitalise on the results of past and ongoing EU funded projects[7].

[1]‘Reshaping Plastics’ (https://plasticseurope.org/reshaping-plastics), Systemiq (2022), based on best available academic and industry data.

[2]E.g., ok compost INDUSTRIAL and ok compost HOME (TUV, https://www.tuv-at.be/green-marks/certifications/ok-compost-seedling)

[3]it may include mechanical, chemical, microbial and enzymatic technologies

[4]See documents defining the framework and criteria on: https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/industrial-research-and-innovation/key-enabling-technologies/advanced-materials-and-chemicals_en.

[5]More specifically, provide thresholds that can support the criteria definition and improvements for the assessment SSbD methodologies, including any specificities related with bio-based surfactants. Recommendations should also include identification of data gaps, especially safety, environmental, but also socio-economic factors, as well as priorities for data collection.

[6]CBE JU Annual Work Programme 2023 (https://www.cbe.europa.eu/reference-documents)

[7]For example, HORIZON-CL6-2021-CIRCBIO-01-04: Increasing the circularity in textiles, plastics and/or electronics value chains.

Want to unlock full information?
Member-only information. Become a member to access this information. Procurement notices from over 112+ donors and banks are available here
Learn more about our membership benefits