"PRESERVE shows that we can replace replace fossil-based packaging" - Interview with Kristina Eißenberger, technical coordinator
After interviewing Dr. Aldo R. Reyes, from IRIS Technology Solutions (Spain) and PRESERVE's Project coordinator, we interviewed Dr. Kristina Eißenberger from ASU (Germany), scientific and technical manager of PRESERVE.
Can you describe briefly what is PRESERVE about and the most important outcome of PRESERVE?
PRESERVE is about depicting innovative material cycles for packaging materials. It shows how eco-design can turn a certain discarded food or beverage packaging made of otherwise non-recyclable multilayer packaging into a high-quality packaging for personal care products or into transport packaging. This shows that multilayers can actually contribute to circular economy. Moreover, PRESERVE shows how currently used packaging structures that mainly – but not exclusively – consist of fossil-based materials can be replaced by bio-based solutions which again reduces the dependence on depleting resources.
Can you describe the main responsibilities of a technical coordinator?
The technical coordinator supports the project coordinator mainly regarding the technical aspects of a project. Therefore, as technical coordinator, it is important to keep track of the technical objectives and activities that are stated in the working plan and to match and compare these with the activities that are carried out. Are there technical issues in one task or work package that may result in delays or risks for other tasks or work packages? If yes, what can be done to avoid or to mitigate this? It is about supporting the project coordinator and about making sure that objectives and activities of the project are successfully accomplished in a timely manner, while taking into account the interdisciplinary approach and the interdependence between the technical tasks of the work plan. Keeping track of these developments includes convoking regular meetings with the technical work package leaders, attending technical work package meetings when suitable, and to encourage partners to seek help early on if necessary.
What does it mean for you to technically coordinate PRESERVE?
Since this is my first time in the position of technical coordinator, I have to admit it was a big challenge at the beginning. To have the holistic overview of this project; to kind of match and sort partners and their responsibilities for me personally so I don’t have to check this over and over again; to balance between being the technical coordinator and a partner. However, it is a challenge I really enjoy and it helps to have such great support as I do at ASU. Also, I like having a clear overview of a project including some “behind the scenes”. Moreover, as I’m also dealing with technical aspects that are not part of my key competence of comfort zone, I learn a lot about other technologies and technical pitfalls.
What are the main challenges that PRESERVE is going to deal with?
There will of course be technical challenges within PRESERVE but I’m confident that we have a strong consortium that will be able to deal with those. In addition to the typical technical challenges associated with research projects, I see a challenge in the fact that we are kind of swimming against the tide with this project. The use of multilayer materials is getting very unpopular, as they are currently not recyclable. Also, in the public perception, the use of plastic is negatively connoted, especially by consumers. This in turn has an effect on brand owners. While this may not be a challenge for PRESERVE to be successfully accomplished, it is a challenge when considering the economic exploitation of the project outcomes. So maybe you can say that the main challenge will be to communicate the advantages and the potential of the PRESERVE solutions to the public.
We are close to complete the first year of research: what would you highlight of the activities carried out until now?
There are so many activities that started within the first year with some of them being already finished. It’s difficult to choose. I think we make good progress in all activities despite a very few suboptimal starting conditions. We also reached our first milestone. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that we are well on track.
What are the priorities for the next 6 months of activities?
The priorities for the next 6 months definitely include keeping on advancing further in the developments of our bio-plastic upgrading and upcycling technologies, building the first multilayers, proceeding in the recycling technologies and of course reaching the milestones.
What is (in a sentence) the added value of PRESERVE?
For me the added value of PRESERVE is described best as turning bio-based packaging waste into new high-quality packaging because everything deserves a better chance.