2018 will see significant developments in the growth of genuine circularity in the recovery and reuse of waste plastic. To date, there has been an ever widening gap between the exponential growth in demand for plastic and the relatively low growth rate of plastics recycling. The value of this lost opportunity is $280 billion globally and rising. The situation in the UK has been further complicated by China’s decision to stop importing certain types of plastics.
Mechanical recycling techniques alone have been unable to recycle all plastic waste types in an economic way. The recycling industry needs to broaden the range of polymers that can be cost-effectively recycled. New technologies, with attractive economics, are set to emerge in 2018 that will enable this to happen.
Megan L. Robertson, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at University of Houston said recently, “..the biggest impact is in developing more efficient methods to recycle the plastics that are produced in large quantities today. Recent research points the way toward chemical recycling methods with lower energy requirements, compatibilization of mixed plastic wastes to avoid the need for sorting, and expanding recycling technologies to traditionally ‘non-recyclable’ polymers.”
Founded by CEO Adrian Griffiths, Swindon based Recycling Technologies is leading the development of commercial chemical recycling of mixed plastic in the UK. Recycling Technologies’ RT7000 technology turns mixed plastic waste into a synthetic oil, Plaxx®, which replaces virgin materials in new polymer production. Adrian Griffiths said,
“We have developed the capability to economically recycle the plastic films, lids, laminates, composites, pouches and bulky rigids that are currently landfilled or incinerated in EfW. RT7000 chemical recycling will contribute to building the UK’s plastics reprocessing capacity which stood at 330kT in 2016, equivalent to just 15% of the 2.2 million tonnes of plastics packaging produced.”
2018 will see the building of a first site in the UK to combine chemical and mechanical recycling of plastic at a single location with a goal to recycle 90% of plastics from household and commercial waste. This site will be located in Scotland and has been named, ‘Project Beacon”. Recycling Technologies is an integral part of Project Beacon providing the chemical recycling capability.
Adrian Griffiths added,
“The combination of mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic has the potential to address the global anxiety over the economic waste and environmental damage associated with waste plastic. Starting in the UK in 2018, chemical recycling has an opportunity to change the narrative for waste plastic globally. In the next ten years, our goal is to build 10mt of plastic recycling capacity. In the UK we want to install at least 50 machines diverting 350,000 tonnes of plastic from landfill or incineration and more than doubling UK’s recycling capacity”