An advanced process for recycling end-of-life plastics trialled at Scottish refinery
The trial is a positive step towards a commercial solution for hard-to-recycle plastic waste
Spotted: The use of plastic is growing worldwide, accompanied by increasingly vocal opposition to plastic pollution. There is therefore a pressing need to optimise recycling processes . But some plastics, such as flexible packaging, are very difficult to recycle. This is driving innovation in ‘advanced recycling’ – a catch-all term for a number of processes that turn plastic polymers back into their original molecules.
Advanced recycling makes it possible to recycle plastic items that aren’t suitable for traditional recycling methods, raising the prospect of a closed-loop system for plastics management. The challenge now is to scale-up advanced-recycling processes.
Now, INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe and Plastic Energy have announced that they are working together on an advanced recycling trial at the INEOS Grangemouth facility in Scotland.
Plastic Energy has developed a ‘pyrolysis’ process for advanced recycling. This converts end-of-life plastics—that would otherwise be sent to landfill or burnt—into a liquid raw material called TACOIL. This liquid is then used to make just-like-new food-grade plastics. At Grangemouth, petroleum-based oil will be replaced by the TACOIL, which refining company Petroineos will incorporate into existing refinery processes.
Plastic Energy’s process has a successful track record having been operational at two recycling plants in Spain since 2017.
Following completion of the trial, the partners plan to work closely with the UK government to build a new recycling plant capable of handling commercial volumes of waste. The closed-loop plastics will be used in sweets, biscuits, and pet food packaging.
Recycled plastics are being used in a growing number of new and exciting ways, including medical waste that is turned into a portable toilet and wardrobe basics made from recycled plastic bottles.
Written by: Keely Khoury
6th January 2022