The Italian national consortium for the collection, recycling and recovery of plastic packaging (Corepla ) has signed an agreement with energy company Eni to launch research projects into producing hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic packaging waste.

Signed by Eni, chief refining and marketing officer Giuseppe Ricci and COREPLA, president Antonello Ciotti, the agreement will see a joint working group assess the launch of research projects to produce hydrogen and high-quality biofuels from plastic waste over the next six months.

The two companies will also analyse how the market for non-mechanically recyclable packaging will evolve over the next few years and, in line with the new EU directives, will study the types of waste that can be used to develop a positive, innovative circular economy process and maximise recovery.

In sorted waste, plastic packaging is separated and sent to be recycled so it can be reused, mostly by transforming it into chips or grains which then become raw material for creating new products. The aim of the research is for Plasmix – different plastics that can’t be used in the recycling market – to now be recycled and transformed into new raw material.

The hydrogen produced by this process can be used in the production of biofuel to neutralise oxygen in vegetable oil and convert triglycerides into paraffins and isoparaffins, removing the sulphur, nitrogen and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

This waste-to-fuel processing is central to Eni strengthening and developing its strategy to apply the principles of the circular economy to its business. The company has been producing high-quality biofuels since 2014 in Porto Marghera and Gela from cooking and frying oil, animal fat and other non-edible waste.

The results will be crucial to supporting the announced production on an industrial scale at these plants and potential other disused industrial sites in Italy and other countries.