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Innovative plastic waste conversion techniques

Source:International Plastics News for Asia     Date:2023-03-04
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The conversion of end-of-life plastic waste into recycled polymer that can be used to produce new plastic products is experiencing rapid development. At the core of this industry initiative are companies that have made remarkable strides in designing recycling systems and embarking on new processing techniques that aim to speed up the move towards a circular economy.


Converting mixed waste plastics

Honeywell announced that GE Technology will license Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology at their planned advanced recycling facility in South Korea. The plant is capable of converting mixed waste plastics into Honeywell Recycled Polymer Feedstock (RPF), which can be used to create new plastics, and help enable the development of a circular economy for plastics. Production is anticipated to begin in 2025 and is projected to be the first commercialised waste plastics recycling facility to use Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology in Korea. The planned advanced recycling plant is expected to have the capacity to transform 30,000 metric tonnes of mixed waste plastics into Honeywell RPF per year.


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Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology converts mixed waste plastics into recycled polymer feedstock.


"Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology not only allows us to reduce waste by expanding the types of plastics that can be recycled, but also displaces the need for fossil fuels in the creation of virgin plastics," said Woo-Hyun Shim, Vice President, GE Technology. "Enabling a circular economy for plastics in Korea is now possible through our licensure with Honeywell and their UpCycle Process Technology."


Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology is a ready-now technology that utilises molecular conversion, pyrolysis, and contaminants management technology to convert waste plastic to Honeywell RPF, which is then used to create new plastics. The UpCycle Process Technology expands the types of plastics that can be recycled to include waste plastic that would otherwise go unrecycled, including coloured, flexible, multi-layered packaging, and polystyrene. When used in conjunction with other chemical and mechanical recycling processes - along with improvements to collection and sorting - Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology has the potential to help recycle nearly 90% of waste plastics. This would represent a considerable increase in the amount of waste plastics that can be turned into polymer feedstock.


"GE Technology is the first company in Korea to license Honeywell's UpCycle Process Technology, which will build upon GE Technology's existing capability in waste collection and mechanical recycling," said Barry Glickman, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions. "Honeywell's technology can play a key role in driving a circular plastics economy to tackle the global challenge of plastic waste." The addition of the plant in Korea expands the UpCycle Process Technology footprint, building on Honeywell's earlier announcements in the U.S., Spain, Turkey, China, and Egypt.


Certified circular PP from landfill-bound plastics

Nexus Circular and Braskem S.A. have signed a 10-year definitive commercial agreement for the supply of circular feedstocks from a new advanced recycling facility. Braskem completed a strategic investment in Nexus Circular in January 2022. The contracted volumes of advanced recycled circular products from Nexus will support Braskem’s strategic objective to sell 300 thousand metric tonnes of products with recycled content by 2025 and 1 million metric tonnes by 2030. 


Braskem America's CEO Mark Nikolich said, “We look forward to a long and growing partnership with Nexus to secure high-quality feedstock for the production of Braskem’s certified circular PP resins.  This supports our corporate initiative to develop a carbon neutral circular economy for plastics while supporting our clients' goals for plastics with recycled content.” 


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Nexus Circular and Braskem entered into an agreement for the supply of circular feedstocks 

from a new advanced recycling facility.

This project will add to Braskem America’s existing sustainable PP and PE portfolio, which currently consists of nine Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) products including two PCR PP grades that can be used in a wide range of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food contact applications where PP is used today.  Braskem’s full range of PCR solutions can be used in a variety of PP and PE applications, including but not limited to consumer packaging, caps and closures, durable goods, automotive, and consumer housewares.


Nexus Circular is a commercial leader in advanced recycling with proven proprietary technology and a leading process design that converts landfill-bound films and other hard-to-recycle plastics into high-quality feedstocks, which are then used to produce virgin-quality sustainable plastics.  Since 2018, Nexus has been consistently supplying commercial volumes of ISCC Plus-certified circular liquid products, having diverted over 8 million pounds of used plastics from landfill.


Jodie Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Nexus, confirmed, “This long-term commercial contract builds upon the strong foundation of our growing relationship.  We are excited to partner with Braskem to accelerate our impact and ability to address the complex challenges of plastics accumulation in the environment.”


100% traceable recycled styrene

On the sidelines of the Advanced Recycling Conference held in Cologne, Germany, Pyrowave announced it has reached a major stage for the future of global plastic recycling and in the fight against climate change. Pyrowave technology has successfully passed Michelin Group’s quality tests with the first 99.8% pure recycled styrene monomer produced from polystyrene waste. Recycled monomer can now be integrated into industrial elastomer batches. For the first time, a finished product will incorporate fully traceable and segregated recycled styrene, where all the styrene will be physically present in the product rather than a credit-based content.


A container with approximately 3 tonnes of recycled styrene has left Montreal for the Michelin plant in France. Following years of testing, Michelin will be in a position to manufacture batches of industrial styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) products with Pyrowave recycled styrene, which would represents over 1,000 passenger car tires.


“The industry has forever been dreaming of a circular economy with recycled, traceable and segregated content. Pyrowave now demonstrates that it is possible through its technology. This achievement confirms once and for all that we can implement a 100% traceable and controlled supply chain in polystyrene recycling.  We can now provide recycled content to meet consumer expectations: products can now be made entirely from recycled material, without dilution or degradation. Pyrowave is defining a new standard in plastic recycling and is leading the way toward reaching environmental goals”, stated Jocelyn Doucet, CEO of Pyrowave.


Pyrowave takes great pride in this achievement in collaboration with its major partner, Michelin, who has been present at all testing stages at the Pyrowave plant. This new accomplishment will contribute to Michelin’s environmental goals. The Pyrowave approach is designed to electrify processes using microwaves, making it possible to keep resources in the production loop of new goods while also reducing the carbon footprint. This unique technology will contribute to Michelin’s goal of an all-sustainable tire in 2050, which will incorporate 100% recycled or renewable bio-sourced materials while contributing to carbon neutrality roadmap. 


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Samples corresponding to the 5 different steps of the Pyrowave process.


Pyrowave developed a microwave technology to return waste polystyrene plastics to their original form, i.e. styrene monomers. This high-value raw material, which is identical to virgin material, but with a 45% reduced carbon footprint, can then be reused in the production of items made from recycled materials and share the same applications as virgin materials used in transportation, packaging, electronics and construction. This approach provides a circular economy solution to the global plastics recycling challenge.  



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