Technological watch

Chemical recycling of plastics gets a catalytic boost in Australia, China

News and interest in chemical recycling is spreading globally. That includes Australia, a country that consumes 3.4 million tonnes of plastic each year, of which only 9% is recycled. Licella Holdings Ltd. (Sydney, Australia) announced January 8 a partnership with bioplastic innovator BioLogiQ, Inc. (Idaho Falls, ID) to accelerate the move towards a circular economy for plastics by the commercialization of Licella’s breakthrough Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) chemical recycling solution.

Licella and Australian partner iQ Renew, with the support of BioLogiQ, will commercialize the Cat-HTR technology in Australia, while global partner Mura Technology (London) will be working alongside BioLogiQ to bring the Cat-HTR solution to China.

The Cat-HTR technology is able to recycle end-of-life plastics, which would otherwise be sent to landfill, back to their original chemical constituents that can be remade into new plastics as a truly circular solution for post-consumer plastic.

Len Humphreys, Licella CEO, said, “by pioneering a circular solution for all plastics, we can utilize the massive amount of plastic already in circulation as a resource, preventing plastic from leaking into the natural environment, reducing our need for fossil oil and significantly reducing carbon emissions.”

Chemical recycling supports the established waste hierarchy, with significant carbon (CO2) emission reductions compared to Waste to Energy (incineration). In fact, converting end-of-life polyethylene (PE) to liquid hydrocarbon products with the Cat-HTR process creates 80-100% more value than waste-to-energy technology, and produces 45% less carbon dioxide emissions.

Unlike techniques such as pyrolysis, the Cat-HTR technology can recycle a blend of end-of-life plastics that include PP, polystyrene, soft plastics like low density PE and multilayer flexible plastic packaging, without the need to sort plastics into a single stream. This process flexibility increases the total quantity of plastic that can be recycled and therefore the process economics. The Cat-HTR process produces a high yield of oil from plastic—around 85% oil, with the balance as gas that can be recycled to power the process.

Of the partnership, BioLogiQ Founder and CEO, Brad LaPray said, “we believe the Cat-HTR technology has cracked the code of scalable, efficient, and economical chemical recycling. This collaboration represents an investment in our future. BioLogiQ customers will know they are supporting a bioplastics company that is as seriously committed to recycling as themselves. By accelerating and supporting the commercialization of chemical recycling, BioLogiQ takes another big step in its quest to make plastics better.”

With chemical recycling, Licella can recover and recycle almost all plastic used today, including plastic with a renewable feedstock such as BioLogiQ’s NuPlastiQ biopolymer (see Innovative bioplastic a key ingredient in fly box for fishing, published August 2018). In Australia alone there is a potential for 20 to 30 commercial-scale Cat-HTR plants.

For more information, see the list of 90 articles associated with chemical recycling published by PlasticsToday.

Publication date: 08/01/2020

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