Feedstock Recycling Options
Some examples of emerging feedstock recycling technologies are listed below.
The British firm Enval, offers proven technology to recycle aluminum based plastic laminations. Using a microwave pyrolysis technology, the company can separate plastics from aluminum and process both into new end products. Plastics become synthetic gases and oils and the aluminum can be collected and sold.
- Trials suggest contamination of food or beauty products is not an issue in the value of the final end product
- Limitation of aluminum-based laminates limits volume opportunities
- Odor with storing materials to accumulate larger volumes is a concerns for both consumers and processors
Synova-BioBTX are Netherlands-based companies who are partnering to combine their chemical conversion technologies using both gasification and pyrolysis as well as gas cleaning to provide a solution to specifically address multi-material flexible packaging. Their combined technology allows for the processing of multi-material flexible packaging into component feedstocks for plastic production (namely Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Styrene) as well as recycle any aluminum present. BioBTX has developed the Integrated Cascading Catalytic Pyrolysis (ICCP) technology, which when combined with Synova’s gasification will maximize the BTX yield, while minimizing costs. The initial gasification step converts the multi-material flexible packaging into intermediate gases, which in the 2nd reactor catalytically convert into stable molecules, largely consisting of aromatics. The companies are jointly working to develop a commercial plant of approximately 1000kg/hr capacity in the US or Europe and looking to conduct trials with feedstock prior to finalizing the conceptual design for this BTX application. This project is in addition to other plants the two companies are developing separately in other locations.
- Represents a mixed waste solution and does not require a narrow, very sorted range of materials. Potential to divert a significant amount of multi-material flexible packaging from landfill.
- The process may be energy intensive and require significant amounts of material inputs to be cost effective, which is the case in general for gasification technologies.
RenewELP is a UK-based company with a chemical conversion technology which can convert mixed end-of-life plastics into valuable hydrocarbon products, including synthetic crude oil, and valuable chemicals and waxes. RenewELP uses a unique, hydrothermal upgrading platform, the Cat-HTR (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor) gasification process which is particularly well suited to processing of composite film material which is too contaminated for processing by many traditional mechanical recycling methods. CAT-HTR is able to process multi-material plastic packaging containing mixed plastics (including PET) and non-plastic materials (such as paper). ReNew ELP will shortly commence construction of it’s first commercial scale plant that will be able to process 20,000 tonnes of cleaned waste plastic materials at its recently acquired site in England. The long-term ambition of ReNew ELP is to scale up the technology and develop plants across the UK and globally using bespoke models based on varied plastic inputs and sales of various recovered materials.
Pros: RenewELP’e technology represents a mixed waste solution and does not require a narrow, very sorted range of materials. The process can tolerate some PET laminates (whereas in pyrolysis this can be challenging) and also paper. Potential to divert large quantities of MMFP from landfill.
Cons: The process may be energy intensive and require significant amounts of material to be cost effective, which is the case in general for gasification technologies.
Renewlogy is a US-based company with a pyrolysis chemical conversion technology able to convert low-grade plastics into fuel and petrochemical feedstocks. Their process can handle multi-layered flexible packaging and several other commingled and contaminated materials at a higher level than most mechanical recycling. The technology is employed in a modular system with a 10 ton per day capacity which can be scaled up in 10 ton increments. In addition to its processing technology, Renewlogy has proposed a collection system involving placing reverse vending machines as a collection mechanism for flexible packaging in retail stores. This machine, called a “plastic muncher” has been designed and is ready to be deployed. The collected plastics can be transported to the nearest Renewlogy facility. Renewlogy currently has two facilities: one in Salt Lake City, Utah and another in Nova Scotia, Canada. Renewlogy is now sequencing the deployment of its next facilities across North America, and is well-positioned to bring its technology to multiple locations.
Pros: The Renewlogy System converts waste into high value products, such as waxes, fuels and naphtha at 70-80% efficiency.
Cons: Lower tolerance for PET, as is the case in general for pyrolysis technologies.