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FCC Medio Ambiente launches the VALOMASK project for the sustainable management of discarded face masks


FCC Medio Ambiente launches the VALOMASK project for the sustainable management of discarded face masks

  • An optimised process for the mechanical separation of face masks will be designed on an industrial scale and will allow the recovery of discarded masks by bioconversion
  • Currently environmental compounds are not technologically prepared to manage this new waste in a sustainable way

In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, FCC Medio Ambiente has launched the innovative project "Design and development of a sustainable management process for discarded masks" or VALOMASK. These materials are continuously arriving to environmental waste processing and recycling compounds. With a planned duration of two years, this project will develop a process to characterise, classify, separate and finally, recover value from them.

This project has a total budget of €630,000 and will be co-financed by the Institute for Business Competitiveness of Castilla y León, within the R&D Line 2021 projects in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It will be developed in the facilities of the Valladolid Waste Treatment Centre, owned by the Valladolid City Council and managed by a joint venture led by FCC Medio Ambiente. To achieve the objectives of the project, the CARTIF technology centre will be involved.

This project will carry out, firstly, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the masks that are being processed in the environmental compounds, which are currently unprepared for their differentiated treatment. Subsequently, the performance of these masks in the different processes within an environmental compound will be analysed and a novel separation system will be developed, with the ultimate aim of being subjected to environmentally sustainable recovery by means of a thermochemical process and subsequent fermentation. As a result of this pyrolysis, a gas rich in propylene and an oil will be obtained, which will be used in fermentations with microorganisms for bioconversion from pyrolysis oils to bioplastics and citric acid.

FCC Medio Ambiente is the FCC Group company that has been providing environmental services for more than 110 years. It serves 66 million people in more than 5,000 municipalities around the world. It manages more than 23.5 million tonnes of waste as a resource every year, through a network of more than 200 environmental recovery and recycling compounds.

The company has internal R&D&I resources that enable it to offer the most innovative solutions to its customers. The company's innovation activity has led to an investment of €2.34 million in 2020, and, in its 2050 Horizon Sustainability Strategy, the firm has committed to make this figure reaching 1% of turnover.FCC

FCC Medio Ambiente maintains the certification of its R&D&I Management System for another year, in accordance with the UNE 166002 standard.