Circular Box


“Box-like” sandwich products are frequently used in mobility and logistics applications due to their lightweight and stiffness. This includes electric “home delivery vehicles,” light vans, trailers (horse transport), and transport crates.

These products typically consist of rigid and lightweight walls (often composite sandwich panels) assembled with edge stiffening and brackets, usually aluminum parts. The joining technology includes bonding, bolt connections, or rivet technology. The product is often a Multi-Material Solution and therefore difficult to recycle.

The future European legislation by 2030 (Green Deal) forces companies to redesign the parts, produce these boxes differently, and to consider “End-of-Life” consequences, particularly focusing on the use of reusable or recyclable materials.

For these companies, this means, among other things: Can the panels be reused ‘as is’ or do they need to be converted into some form of raw material (e.g., ‘flakes’), which can again be used for high-value applications. And what technologies (including process automation) are applicable for this purpose?

The current project, a collaboration between companies, a university, and a trade association, focuses on the above questions. It mainly focuses on the circularity of these ‘box-like’ sandwich products and researches the reuse or recycling of used thermoplastic sandwich panels and the disassembly/assembly techniques for them.

The project starts with the classification of the recyclate from sandwich panels and the qualification of the different forms of raw materials. Then it looks at how these materials can be incorporated into the design process at an early stage. The various material forms will then be accommodated in a demonstrator through this (re)design, based on various production processes, process conditions, and other requirements.

Finally, the economic feasibility will be studied, focusing on business models around integrating recycling into existing production and/or supplemented with automation. It is estimated that in Western Europe, the consumption is approximately 12.5 km2/year.

Project partners

Smartbox BV, KV Techniek BV, Hapro BV, Roelofsen Horse Trucks BV, Allro-Plast Carrosseriën BV, JPI Polymers BV, Fawic BV, CompTape BV, Henk Bos Innovatie Advies, Saxion Hogeschool, CompositesNL


2 years, Start in March 2024


RAAK-MKB subsidy, financed by Regieorgaan SIA, part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

For more information about this project, please click here.

Share This Page:

Interested in working together?

Is your company interested to get involved and work together in a research project? Then get in touch with us and fill in our contact form!


Newsletter sign-up