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Recovery of plastics for steel production

The Pittini Group is a partner of the European PolynSPIRE project focusing on the use of plastic waste as a substitute for coal in electric arc furnace (EAF) steel smelting.

Recovery of plastics that can no longer be recycled

Unlike steel, plastic is not an infinitely recyclable material: according to Corepla’s latest report, only 47% of plastic waste and packaging was sent for recycling in 2020. There are dozens of different types of plastics that are not always compatible with each other, and each time they are recycled, they lose their physical and mechanical properties, becoming materials that cannot be mechanically recycled and are therefore sent to waste-to-energy plants or landfills. With the objective of making the management of plastic residues more sustainable and adding value to the non-reusable portion, the European H2020 PolynSPIRE project was created in 2018. The Pittini Group is involved in the project along with 21 other partners. Our ultimate goal is to encourage the progressive decarbonisation of the steel industry through the re-utilisation of the residues within a virtuous process of a circular economy.

Transforming plastics into energy

Plastics, properly treated and transformed into a new product through depolymerisation procedures, are used in electric arc furnace steel production as a raw material with the function of optimising the process, replacing fossil coals and their derivatives. Thanks to the PolynSPIRE project, it has been learned that plastics facilitate combustion during the smelting of ferrous material, thus leading to improved industrial productivity and electricity consumption efficiency.

plastic recovery trasformazione plastica in energia

The Pittini Group is therefore collaborating on a prototype injector which will allow the delivery of the plastic by-product into the EAF.

Plastic recovery and recycling: environmental benefits

Thanks to this innovative project, our company promotes the use of plastic in terms of a circular economy, reducing waste, and increasing recycling rates. In addition, the use of plastic waste in ferrous scrap smelting instead of using a natural raw material (hard coal) saves it by preserving it in the environment.

The general impact of this innovation in the electric arc furnace is to significantly reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.