Technological watch

Circular Polymers turns post-consumer carpet into high-quality feedstock

Chemical recycling as an alternative to mechanical recycling appears to be a growing industry. Critical to the success of these chemical recycling companies, however, is the availability of feedstock materials. The most recent company to make an entrance into this supply process, Circular Polymers (Lincoln, CA) says the answer to availability is under your feet.

Circular Polymers, founded by a team of recycling industry veterans in 2018, will supply the chemical recycling industry with consistent, high-quality feedstock made from post-consumer carpet and other plastic destined for landfill. Circular Polymers’ new facility in Lincoln, CA, will process some 30 million pounds of carpet per year, with plans to expand further.

Circular Polymers gained the exclusive rights to a proprietary carpet recycling technology developed by Broadview Group International LLC (BGI; Brookpark, OH). This “market-disruptive technology” has been quietly optimized by Circular and BGI over the past year, according to BGI’s information. “Our technology disassembles the carpet then cleans the fibers, thus maximizing yield while providing superior quality,” stated BGI President Joe Bork. “The technology processes all carpet types: Nylon 6, nylon 66, PET and polypropylene.”

David Bender, Circular Polymers CEO, said, “Chemical recycling is the solution to global demand for recycled feedstocks in a circular economy. Major brand companies working with chemical recyclers need clean, sustainable supplies of feedstock. We understand that chemical recycling operations require the conversion of waste into a raw material with strictly defined specifications.

Circular Polymers is uniquely positioned to supply this growing industry,” said Bender. “With more than 25% of all recycled bottles getting downcycled into carpet and fiber, Circular Polymers has created a figure 8 in the circular economy, enabling upcycling of carpet into bottles.”

Circular Polymers and BGI completed the Lincoln plant expansion in December 2018. “Circular Polymers expects to grow significantly to support our customer requirements,” said Nick Fiore, Circular’s President. “The chemical recycling industry is in its infancy. Four billion pounds of carpet landfilled annually provides the feedstock for growth.”

According to BGI, the patented thermal technology is designed to recycle both short-nap and continuous-loop carpet, as well as the longer-nap cut-pile type that is more prominent in the United States. The process is designed to recover 95% of the face fiber (nylon 6; nylon 6,6; and polyester) while producing a finished material with less than 1% polypropylene and less than 2% inorganic materials (ash).

Circular Polymers’ partner PureCycle Technologies is commercializing a patented recycling process that transforms plastic waste feedstock into virgin-like resin. David Brenner, PureCycle Chief Integration Officer, commented, “We need innovators at all levels of the supply chain to make the circular economy a reality. What Circular Polymers has done with processing post-consumer carpet back into raw materials for chemical recyclers is not only revolutionary, but an incredible model for us all, considering the large volumes of feedstock that are being landfilled today.”

Mark Babich, Relationship Partner for Circular Polymers, added, “In addition to providing feedstock for chemical recycling, Circular Polymers’ fiber can also be further mechanically processed as feedstock pellet for automotive, injection molding and other upcycled applications.”

Circular Polymers received a grant from Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) in December 2018 to add new BGI equipment to remove and separate the polypropylene backing fiber from the carpet face fiber. “Circular Polymers is now the leading innovator of carpet recycling technology and our fastest growing recycler,” commented Bob Peoples, Executive Director of CARE. “I am very proud of what this talented team has been able to accomplish. They are proving a circular economy is achievable.”

Publication date: 04/03/2019

Plastics Today

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14