Three companies – Finland’s Neste, a producer of renewable diesel, ReNew ELP, a UK-based chemical recycling company, and Australian technology developer Licella - have joined forces on a development project to explore the potential of using mixed waste plastic as a raw material for fuels, chemicals, and new plastics. The three partners will also be pushing to facilitate regulatory acceptance for chemical recycling.
The project is one of the steps towards Neste’s goal to introduce liquefied waste plastic as a future raw material to fossil refining. The company’s stated target is to process more than one million ton of waste plastic annually by 2030.
ReNew ELP will build a chemical recycling plant in Teesside, UK, that is able to recycle end-of-life plastic into raw material for a range of petrochemical products. This will be the first commercial-scale plant based on Licella’s Cat-HTRTM technology, a catalytic hydro-thermal liquefaction platform it has spent the past ten years developing. The technology represents an ‘important chemical recycling solution for the significant global challenge of end-of-life plastic’, according to Licella.
The collaboration also involves Armstrong Energy, who in a joint venture with Licella are leading the financing of the Teesside facility and global deployment of the Cat-HTRTM technology. Although the plant construction is not included in this collaboration project with Neste, it will nevertheless contribute to a common goal of enabling more efficient waste plastic utilization in the future.
“We still need development of technologies, value chains, and supporting legislation for plastic waste based products to become a reality at industrial scale,” explained Matti Lehmus, Executive Vice President of Neste’s Oil Products business area.
This is not Neste's only circular economy plastics project. The company is also preparing to start commercial production of plastics derived from bio-based raw materials, such as waste fats and oils. Neste and IKEA are collaborating on the production of bio-based polypropylene (PP) plastic at commercial scale – a world first - which is expected to start sometime in the fall of 2018.