Introducing Yibo Su from the Circular Packaging Program

Meet Yibo Su, a member of the Circular Packaging team at Brightlands Materials Center since 2021. Yibo has been working at Brightlands Materials Center for a few years already, as he was previously a member of the Sustainable Mobility team. Currently, Yibo works as a Research Scientist in the Circular Packaging team and plays a vital role in the investigation of polymers used in packaging, with the ultimate goal of enhancing their recyclability. Additionally, Yibo is dedicated to improving the quality of recycled plastics, facilitating their reuse in various new applications.

As part of the Circular Packaging program, Yibo’s primary focus centers around tackling the challenges associated with specific plastic packaging that currently lacks any recycling value, such as multilayer structures. He accomplishes this by executing and coordinating several research projects and supporting Brightlands Materials Center in new projects. The team also explores both flexible and rigid packaging applications, seeks out novel uses for recycled products, and contributes to the development of design guidelines. For a deeper understanding of Yibo’s role within this program, keep on reading.

‘We are working on the development of a pouch that is recyclable without losing the quality of materials and that keeps the soup fresh for a long period of time.’

Can you give us some insights on the projects you are working on?

“I am working on several projects, but I would like to highlight the Circular Stand-Up Pouches project since I find it very interesting. In this project, we are developing a recyclable soup pouch. This means that the soup pouch needs to be replaced with a new recyclable design that can keep the soup fresh for about 12 months. To achieve this, the pouch needs to be made by a single type of material to fullfill all of the technical requirements which are currently realized by different layers of materials which are currently not recyclable. Together with approximately 6 to 7 companies, we are working on the development of a pouch that is recyclable without compromising the quality of materials and can maintain the freshness of the soup for an extended period of time.”

Why is this project so important? And what are the advantages?

udfood industry, p“This project is about solving a problem in a relatively short period of time, thanks to a strong collaboration between institutes, Zuyd Hogeschool, and industries. Together, we contribute our expertise in product development and the recycling process. What I find important is that this project also has a societal aspect, as it involves students or interns. By involving them, they become aware of the latest developments in sustainability and the recycling process, which can enhance their employability upon completing their studies. Thus, it not only improves recycling but also brings benefits to the food industry, packaging industry and plastic industry. That’s why I consider it a project with added value.”

‘We try to create a new design method that is adaptable to more products and that can quickly adapt to change.’

Which project do you like the most?

“Last year, I worked on a project called the ‘TKI PCR Seal Project’, and it is also the one I liked the most. This project focuses on smartly utilizing recycled waste to develop new products. Currently, around 85% of recycled plastics are used for incineration for energy recovery due to their poor quality. In collaboration with other project partners, we aim to use low-quality plastics for high-end materials such as bubble foils or air pillows. This, of course, requires higher-quality plastics that can effectively contain air. However, the quality also depends on the sealing process, the strength of the two-layer film, and the materials used. It is especially challenging that each batch of recycled plastics is with different content and requires a tailored recipe and processing conditions. We are working on creating a new design method that is capable to perform rapid product development with different material content.”

What would you like to work on in the future?

“I hope that we can maximize the use of recycled materials. From a technical perspective, incorporating recycled content into new product designs would be a dream come true for me!”