Neste, Recycling Technologies and Unilever combine expertise to test and validate systems to recycle waste plastics chemically
Recycling Technologies, a specialist plastic recycling technology provider; Neste, the leading provider of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and a forerunner in drop-in renewable and circular chemical solutions; and Unilever, the consumer goods manufacturer, will collaborate to develop further and to harness chemical recycling to recover and to reuse plastic packaging that is currently either incinerated, buried in landfill or exported from the UK.
A joint project involving these three companies has been awarded a £3.1-million grant (US$4 million) from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop chemical recycling by combining the expertise of these global leaders in their respective business areas to make hard-to-recycle plastic packaging recyclable.
In this three-year project, Recycling Technologies will take waste plastic packaging and process it using its RT7000 proprietary technology to turn it into a liquid hydrocarbon feedstock called Plaxx.
The machine uses thermal cracking, which breaks down the long chains of polymers into shorter chains through the use of heat in the absence of oxygen.
Plaxx is not intended for use as fuel. It is a building block in the circular economy and the plastics value chain, providing post-consumer recycled content for new plastic products in line with governmental targets.
This material will then be delivered to Neste to analyze and test its quality and suitability for further upgrading it into high-quality drop-in feedstock for the production of new, virgin-quality plastics, such as plastic packaging.
Unilever, joining an already well-established collaboration between Recycling Technologies and Neste, will bring insight on design for recycling for packaging.
The grant will help assist, support and refine the testing and any improvement of Recycling Technologies’ chemical recycling plant being built currently at Binn Farm in Perthshire, Scotland. This collaboration will allow the company to improve its systems to process waste plastic optimally to upgrade the Plaxx so it can be easily further refined at Neste’s facilities into high-quality feedstock for the manufacture of new plastics.
The alliance will demonstrate new added-value applications for hard-to-recycle waste plastic materials, such as films, sachets and pouches, using them to create output that can be used to make new packaging.
Neste has extensive experience of handling low-quality waste and residue raw materials, such as renewable waste and residue oils and fats, and processing them into high-quality products. Neste is committed to developing scalable solutions to accelerate plastics recycling with several partners and aims to introduce liquefied plastic waste as a refinery raw material to replace fossil oil use in the production of feedstock for new plastics. Its collaboration with Recycling Technologies enables Neste to accelerate the development of one of the very promising chemical recycling technologies.