A second life to plastic waste

A second life to plastic waste

Improving water quality can help to increase resilience against illnesses and to generate wider societal benefits

LIFE REMEMBRANCE has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union,
with the project title “Give plastic wastes from the production of hollow-fibre membranes a second life”.

Particle element

The project aims to face two main challenges impacting ecosystem’s conditions and human well-being:

Drinking water pollution
by contaminants of emerging concern (ECs), including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS),
CO2 production
from Hollow Fiber Membrane (HFM) wastes disposal and incineration.


LIFE REMEMBRANCE aims to produce innovative materials and cartridges for drinking-water filtering and ECs removal by upcycling high-value industrial waste generated by the production of Hollow Fiber Membrane (HEM) filters.


What are the main problems targeted by the project?

The project stems from the urge of solving two problems affecting both human and environmental health:
Drinking water contamination by Emerging Contaminants (ECs)
Water is increasingly contaminated by chemicals, including molecules with effects on public health, such as PFAS, heavy metals, drugs and dyes used in thousands of commercial products. Current technologies for ECs removal at point-of use (POU), point-of-entry (POE) and centralized scale mainly rely on adapting existing and non-specific technologies, none of which is exhaustive in terms of efficiencies, costs, sustainability.
Plastic waste disposal and incineration and consequent CO2 production and air contamination by organic volatile compounds
The process used to assemble the membranes in a cartridge intrinsically originates fiber waste of high quality and value, being identical to the membrane integrated in the filters. However, due to the cutting process used, the fiber waste cannot be further used to fabricate other HFMs. The scraps need to be stored, transported, and finally incinerated with strong impact on the whole ecosystem.
Collectively, these issues contribute to higher plastic bottle consumption in some EU regions (i.e. Veneto region, Italy). By facing these two issues, LIFE REMEMBRANCE will also indirectly positively impact on the reduction of plastic bottled water consumption.

Emerging contaminants

What does the term “emerging contaminant” stand for?

Emerging contaminants (EC) are chemicals increasingly found in our water bodies and are originated by the use and release of more than 350.000 products for civil or industrial uses (i.e., household products, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, pesticides, additives, …).

EC are not efficiently removed by standard purification technologies thus they enter the environment affecting aquatic and land ecosystems and have also been found in tap water (i.e., the case of PFAS in Veneto region, Italy).

Their effect of human health is unknown but increasing evidence on their effect on reproductive system, neurodevelopment delays and cancer have been reported in literature.

Current research efforts are devoted to advanced and sustainable technologies for the removal of EC from water sources.

EU Directives

What are the EU directives that the project responds to?

Drinking Water Directive 2020/2184/EU
This directive responds to the increasing number of contaminants found in water sources and to the related need of providing safe drinking water to citizens. In this directive, new target contaminants and threshold limits have been added. LIFE REMEMBRANCE project will comply to this updated regulation
Water Directive 2000/60/EC
Promotes sustainable water use.
Directive on Energy Efficiency 2018/2002/EU
Aims to reduce energy consumption of 32,5% by 2030.

EU Priority Areas Targeted

What are the areas of greatest EU interest targeted by the project?

Circular Economy and Reduction of Waste

LIFE REMEMBRANCE will reduce health issues related to toxic contaminants, providing safe drinking water to ~1M citizens.

Target Audience

What is the main target of the project, in terms of priority areas and audience?

The selected stakeholders belong to the following main categories:

companies operating in POU and POE markets at EU level and abroad;
operators of drinking water plants at EU level and abroad (both private and public);
hollow fibers manufacturers;
companies operating in air filtration sector;
European or national associations/ networks;
relevant EU funded projects;
general public

What are the main characteristics of the final product?


LIFE REMEMBRANCE materials and cartridges can be used for the treatment of water in plants of different sizes and operating in several water purification areas (centralised, POU and POE). After the pilot demonstration, replication will be performed in other 2-3 POU applications. After the project end, replication will occur in other 1-2 centralised water treatment plants.


LIFE REMEMBRANCE technologies can be transferred to the air filtration sector (pre-concentration for analytical purposes or indoor air purification) from organic aerosols and gaseous organics adsorption; application in sorbent tubes/cartridges used for analytic purpose in gas chromatography and in biomedical sector.

Project Partners

Medica S.p.A.

Leader in the production of electromedical equipment and single-use medical devices, with 59 registered patents, an innate vocation for research and development, the solidity of a group of 600 employees forged through nearly 40 years in a market, Medica S.p.A. thanks to a continuous technological innovation it’s the only Italian company with hollow fiber spinning technology for purification of blood and water developed entirely within the organisation over the time.
On the strength of the know-how and technological development gained through extensive experience in blood filtration, today Medica S.p.A.’s Water Division manufactures and distributes two unique hollow-fibre membranes for water purification, which offer complete protection based on the size of the pores and the adsorption capacity of the membranes themselves:

  • MediSulfone® – polysulfone (PS) ultrafiltration membrane, used for almost 20 years in the field of dialysis in order to obtain ultra-pure dialysate, and in various other applications for the retention of bacteria, viruses and endotoxins, particulates/microplastics, and more generally all substances with a molecular weight greater than 15 kDa and dimensions greater than 0.005 µm
  • Versatile-PES® – polyethersulfone (PES) microfiltration membrane, used in various applications for the retention of bacteria, yeasts, mould and algae, particulates/microplastics, and more generally all substances with a molecular weight greater than 1000 kDa and dimensions greater than 0.15 µm

Medica S.p.A.’s filters are made from moulded polymers such as polycarbonate, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and co-polyester, in a wide range of filter surface areas from 0.02 to 2 m2 and total filter length from approximately 60 to 400 mm. All production takes place in special ISO 14644 compliant cleanrooms, 100% tested in accordance with strict protocols of the ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 internal quality system, biocompatibility per EN ISO 10993.

MOCA certification – Report Rev. 00- 21/12/2018

Medica S.p.A.’s filters are particularly suited for purification of water from the mains, wells, surface run-off, rainwater harvesting, process water and saltwater; they are also available in sterile versions and are used mainly in residential, catering, medical (ultra-pure water), infection control, pharma & lab, and outdoor activities/survival fields.


The National Research Council (CNR) is the largest public research institution in Italy, the only one under the Research Ministry performing multidisciplinary activities. Cnr’s mission is to perform research in its own Institutes, to promote innovation and competitiveness of the national industrial system, to promote the internationalization of the national research system, to provide technologies and solutions to emerging public and private needs, to advice Government and other public bodies, and to contribute to the qualification of human resources.

The Institute of Organic synthesis and Photoreactivity (ISOF) of CNR was established in 2002 in the Territorial Research Area of Bologna hosting seven CNR Institutes, two Institutes of the National Institute for Astrophysics Institutes, the Tecnopolo Bologna CNR with MISTER Smart Innovation and Proambiente laboratories, ART-ER (Attractiveness Research Territory), Innovation Accelerators and EIT Climate-KIC.

Bologna with a staff of 65 units, including 44 full-time researchers, plus more than 60 among non-permanent researchers, postdoc and Ph.D. students. The ISOF Institute has > 7000 m2 of laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation; it is currently performing ca. 40 research projects funded by the EU, the Italian government, the Emilia Romagna Region and different non-profit organisations and industrial partners.

More than 1800 scientific articles on peer-reviewed international journals have been published at ISOF in the last 20 years, with an average 90 articles/year and a citation h-index =103 (Source: SCOPUS; June 2021).

ISOF has a key role in promoting and coordinating CNR activities in multidisciplinary projects, like the Graphene Flagship and the RM@Schools , part of KIC EIT KIC RawMaterials, which are strategic for our department  of Chemical Sciences and Materials Technologies (DSCTM) and CNR as a whole.

Project Goals

The main objective of the project is the production and marketing of a new generation of safe and innovative filters for water purification, obtained from the reworking of scraps deriving from the production of Hollow Fiber Membranes.

The environmental objectives of the LIFE REMEMBRANCE are:

Reduction of emerging and persistent chemical contaminants in water

Contaminants may include PFASs, pesticides, antibiotics, disinfection by-products, heavy metals.

LIFE-REMEMBRANCE target Removal >99% of mixture of ECs from drinking water in real operating conditions (POU, potabilization plant).

This will be achieved by exploiting
i) a new family of sorbent materials deriving from revaluated MEDICA waste products and from the tailoring of a dedicated production line,
ii) the realization of POU systems in selected sites (Medica – CNR sites) and
iii) the realization of a  pilot treatment system in the Pontelagoscuro potabilization plant treating water from Po river and distributing water to about 250000 citizens (HERA, Fe, Italy).

Recovery and upcycling of high-value industrial waste

Polymeric Hollow Fiber Membranes (HFM) are used worldwide for micro and ultrafiltration in biomedical (e.g. dialysis and apheresis treatment, i.e. extracorporeal blood purification) and water purification (removal of bacteria, viruses).

Due to the production process, the fibers edges of each fibre bundles, cannot be used for filter assembling thus they are considered plastic waste to be disposed and incinerated.

Being such fiber edges identical in purity, composition and morphology to the fiber core length, LIFE-REMEMBRANCE intends to recover and reuse the fiber edge scraps as precursors of sorbents to be used for air and water purification. During LIFE REMEMBRANCE project, 3 t of plastic will be recycled to produce granular materials to be used as sorbents of ECs.

Energy savings and emissions related to waste disposal

Combining the production of safer drinking water with the reduction of plastic waste derived from the HF scraps and from plastic bottles for human consumption and related incineration procedures with high CO2 footprint.

A high consumption of water bottle plastic is reported in EU since at present: only 20% of Europeans found drinking water outside of their home country acceptable and 29% of households did not trust to drink tap water in Italy in 2019 due to the reported negative effects on health. The European Commission estimated that, providing high quality drinking water, could reduce bottle plastic waste consumption by 17%.

Considering that, by 2029:

  • LIFE REMEMBRANCE will treat water in 205k basins at POU level and one potabilization plant (supplying ~215,000 citizens)
  • LIFE REMEMBRANCE will provide safe drinking water to ~1M citizens.
A focus on Health

The occurrence of micropollutants in the aquatic environment have been frequently associated with a number of negative effects, including short-term and long-term toxicity, endocrine disrupting effects and antibiotic resistance of toxic microorganisms.

LIFE-REMEMBRANCE will target mainly organic contaminants such as PFAS, pesticides and pharmaceuticals regulated or not, found in EU water bodies in concentration ranging from sub- or hundreds nanograms. Test at POU and potabilization plant leve in in-situ pilots will be carried out during the project.

By treating by 2029 water in 205k basins at POU level and one potabilization plant (supplying ~215,000 citizens), LIFE REMEMBRANCE will play its role providing safer drinking water to ~1M citizens, eliminating negative health impacts for people.

At present, MEDICA water purification market is based on the following line of products with Medisulfone® and Versatile-PES® HFM: home drinking water POU filters, which are commercialized globally, filtration for pharma water filtration infection control in hospitals ultrapure dialysate production individual water purifier and retail market.
Company growth
The MEDICA Water Division increased the production of membranes from 500.000 Km/Y to 650.000 Km/Y from 2019 to 2021. MEDICA currently sells in several EU countries (Italy, Austria, Romania) and in the United States.
LIFE REMEMBRANCE will allow MEDICA to expand its portfolio of products and to increase its EU market share in POU sector.

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<strong>Water Division Medica S.p.A.</strong>
Water Division Medica S.p.A.

Alberto Goldoni
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