NHL Stenden is committed to giving plastic waste a new lease of life

Mittwoch 27 Februar 2019

The National Test Centre for Circular Plastics (NTCP) will be launched in Heerenveen during the course of this year. The independent test centre will actively contribute to improving the techniques for sorting and recycling plastic packaging. Marcel Crul from NHL Stenden's Circular Plastics professorship: "If we want to use more recycled plastic, we have to be able to test the quality of the plastics on a larger scale. And we have to know the needs of the manufacturers. This test centre will allow us to make some great strides."

circular plasic

Need for the test centre

State Secretary Van Veldhoven and the Provincial Executive’s De Rouwe signed the agreements regarding the test centre at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) in late January.Both the education sector and the business community confirmed a need for a national test centre. Current labs, such as those at NHL Stenden, allow for the testing of a few kilos of plastic. But the industry needs test facilities for much larger quantities. It needs to know whether it would work with a few tons too. Crul: “Companies such as Omrin and FrieslandCampina often conduct research using their own production lines. This inevitably means that production is at a standstill during the test phase. It goes without saying this costs a huge amount of money. An external test centre will realise enormous savings for us. As an added bonus we will have the expertise of other companies and researchers within easy reach.”


As many plastic applications cannot be replaced, the NTCP is looking into possibilities for reusing plastic. The Circular Plastics professorship is studying this issue from several perspectives; mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and product development. The first one looks at reusing plastics. Chemical recycling focuses on how we can take the building blocks of plastics from a waste flow via the chemical route. Product development looks at how we can turn recycled plastic into new products and produce less waste. “Our professorship is also involved in waste issues like the ones experienced on Bali or in Thailand. Plastic waste and plastic soup are huge problems at tourist destinations. Apart from our own region, we look at how we can help combat pollution in the world,” according to Crul.

Test centre and education

The NTCP also plays an important role for education at NHL Stenden. Students will soon be able to conduct their own research there and gain a better insight into the circular economy. “Many students from the technical and design branches show an interest in the test centre. Mechanical engineering and chemistry students as well as CMD from product development.” We are exploring possibilities for water technology research in collaboration with the Water Technology Centre of Expertise. “Plastics need to be washed. But how can we limit the generation of waste water? And how can we remove plastics or biological materials from the water and turn these into bioplastics?"