Technological watch

Aduro, Switch focus on recycling agricultural plastics

Chemical recycler Aduro Clean Technologies Inc. and Ontario-based recycler Switch Energy Corp. will build a pilot plant in Sarnia, Ontario, to recover polyethylene and polypropylene used in agriculture.

The project will test if small-scale chemical recycling plants can be placed near farmers so that more material will be recycled rather than thrown away.

Switch Energy, the owner and operator of the largest collection program for agricultural waste in Ontario, has in-depth knowledge that extends to all facets of the collection and recycling of agricultural waste. The Clinton-based company is now exploring the development of a framework for collaboration with Sarnia-based Aduro in which the two companies would jointly design, build, install and operate a pilot plant to process waste plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

Although Canadian farms generate an estimated 60,000 metric tons of plastic every year, until now there has not been a way to locally process this waste plastic in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner. This is mainly because most plastic recycling technologies and projects require large-scale installations to achieve economic feasibility, putting them out of reach for many recyclers. Aduro would instead deploy modular, smaller-scale facilities that can be co-located at or near waste streams.

The companies envision a pilot plant that will accommodate the need for farmers to divert their agricultural waste plastics from landfills at low cost. Aduro will provide expertise in the hydrochemolytic technology (HCT) process design, including identifying optimal finished product specifications and engagement with the chemical and petrochemicals industry for long-term offtake engagement.

The pilot plant will be scaled for a capacity of multiple metric tons per day.

Aduro said a successful pilot program will further demonstrate the economic feasibility of small-scale plastics processing using the technology and could result in similar projects across North America.

"Achieving the [pilot] remains a main goal for us, which means demonstrating that our technology works well in the continuous-flow mode needed for commercial systems. Our data supports new discussion regarding pilots for different applications, such as waste plastics," said Aduro CEO Ofer Vicus.

Aduro's HTC technology operates at low temperatures, has no issue dealing with high concentration levels of moisture, and is versatile enough to process other types of plastics and contaminates.

"Our discussions with Aduro over the past few months, along with an in-depth review of their technology, has convinced us that their HCT-based solution is a superior solution compared to alternatives," said Don Nott, founder and CEO of Switch Energy.

The technology was previously also subject to a comprehensive and detailed review by Brightlands Chemelot Campus, an international shared innovation community located in Limburg, Netherlands. That review concluded that HCT offers distinct advantages over traditional pyrolysis for bringing PE into the circular economy through chemical recycling to obtain valuable, high-purity products, such as value-added chemicals or feedstock for the production of new, virgin PE.

Publication date: 10/11/2021

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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