UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested £20m (US$26m) in four proposed plastic recycling plants.
The funding is part of UKRI’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSSP) challenge, which aims to increase the recycling capacity as well as expand the range of plastics that are recycled. The funding comes alongside £65m of industry investment. The four funded projects are run by ReNew ELP, Recycling Technologies, Poseidon Plastics, and Veolia.
ReNew ELP is aiming to set up a facility in Teesside that would use a catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) to convert 20,000 t/y of waste plastic into chemicals and oils for use in the production of new plastics. This could be used for naphtha, waxes, and a bitumen-like residue which can be used in the construction of roads. The capacity would increase to 80,000 t/y on site completion.
Recycling Technologies will use thermal cracking to process 7,000 t/y of plastic waste into 5,200 t/y of hydrocarbon oil which can be used to produce virgin plastics and replace the need for crude oil. The site will be based in Perth, Scotland, and Recycling Technologies will be working with partners Neste and Unilever.
Adrian Griffiths, Founder and CEO at Recycling Technologies, said: “Our collaboration with Neste will allow us to refine and improve our technology to produce valuable feedstock from waste plastic that can be incorporated into the petrochemicals industry supply chain to increase the content of recycled plastic in new plastic production. Our work with Unilever will identify hard-to-recycle plastics from current mechanical recyclers and how to evolve their design construction to improve their recyclability, ensuring compatibility with Recycling Technologies’ chemical recycling process, for incorporation into new packaging.”
Poseidon Plastics will construct a 15,000 t/y PET recycling facility in Teesside to chemically recycle PET into new consumer products. It will partner with waste management company Biffa along with PET resin producers Alpek Polyester UK and DuPont Teijin Films UK.
Martin Atkins, CEO of Poseidon Plastics, said: “Experts in recycling and waste management, PET manufacturers and end users will all come together to demonstrate the UK’s first advanced recycling (monomer recycling) technology in Teesside. Poseidon’s new technology for converting waste PET back to monomer is a key milestone for the UK’s plastic packaging industry and an opportunity for global deployment.”
Veolia will develop the UK’s first dual PET bottle and tray recycling facility at an existing Veolia site with a recycling capacity of 35,000 t/y of PET. This is in partnership with Unilever, Charpak, and HSSMI. HSSMI will help to optimise the facility through the creation of a digital twin.
Paul Davidson, Challenge Director of the SSPP challenge, said: “To help protect the planet from waste pollution it is critical that plastics are more readily recycled and sustainable. The plastic packaging industry is changing, to become more responsive to our environmentally conscious concerns.
“The work of our four demonstrator winners will go a long way to reinstate plastic as a sustainable packaging choice. In particular, our winners demonstrated they have a lifecycle approach to plastics packaging, thinking through the use of a material from its raw state, through to its transport, its use by consumers and its disposal.”
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