TheCircularLab is a real-scale experimental laboratory, located in Logroño, which will research through networked incubators on the eco-design for the packaging of the future, the development of solutions that make the process of recycling easier for the citizen or the smart management of waste.
It is a laboratory that focuses its activity on the study, testing and development of best practices in the field of packaging and its subsequent recycling within the parameters of the circular economy and through collaborative research.
Ecoembes, the environmental non-profit organization that promotes the circular economy through the recycling of packaging, will invest in this project 10 million euro until 2020 which, in a first phase, will involve the creation of 40 jobs in situ and more than 200 through the entrepreneurship ecosystems.
In this sense, TheCircularLab works in four distinct areas of research:
1.- Packaging of the future
The first of them focuses on the development of the packaging of the future, an area in which eco-design plays a key role as it contributes to make them more sustainable and reduces their environmental footprint, Ecoembes says in a statement.
To this end, a project has been put in place that evaluates the behavior of the containers throughout their lifecycle and proposes improvement recommendations to achieve a lower use of resources.
Likewise, within this area, work is also being done both on the search for new sustainable materials and on the introduction of recycled materials into the production processes. In addition, with the aim of identifying and applying new developments in this area, the first Observatory of the Packaging of the Future has been created.
2.- The citizen role
“Citizens are essential players when it comes to recycling, because they start the process by disposing their waste in the appropriate container” Ecomebes notes. For this reason, TheCircularLab aims to develop tools that facilitate separation in the home and proper recycling.
Óscar Martín, CEO of Ecoembes
In this way, digital tools are already being developed that help citizens solve their doubts; for example, an application that identifies packaging through the image and voice (a kind of “recycling Siri”).
On the other hand based on Big Data and data analysis, environmental education campaigns will be designed to create a true citizenship science to raise even more the society commitment towards environmental matters.
3.- Application of technology
The third line of research focuses on the application of most advanced technology to the processes of collection, selection and recycling of packaging. To this end, the ‘SmartWaste’ platform has been created, the first tool for information management and data analysis to improve the efficiency and quality of municipal waste management services, the statement continues.
Within this area, we also work on the development of smart containers, in the search for new collection vehicle models that be more respectful with the environment or in the incorporation of robotics systems in the waste treatment, thus directing the selection plants towards the industry 4.0.
Together with UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, a methodology is being developed which provides information on the actual impact of the packaging throughout its life cycle (LCA).
4.- Open and collaborative innovation
Finally, TheCircularLab seeks to promote open and collaborative innovation through networking with new entrepreneurs and startups working in the field of circular economy.
Therefore, in collaboration with the Government of La Rioja, the Economic Development Agency of La Rioja and Emprenderioja, an incubation program has been launched to accelerate new business ideas related to eco-design, recycling, waste management and the citizenship.
“TheCircularLab is one more step in the consolidation of a sustainable development model based on circular economy and collaborative innovation. A goal for which at Ecoembes we have been working since we started our activities 20 years ago, and that undoubtedly brings us closer to the consolidation of a citizenship increasingly involved in recycling” said Óscar Martín , CEO of Ecoembes.