Nestlé UK and Ireland and Plastic Energy, a UK-headquartered chemical recycling company have announced they will be jointly involved in a project to investigate the possibilities for developing a new pyrolysis-based commercial-scale chemical recycling plant in the UK.
Plastic Energy already operates two similar recycling plants in Spain and is one of the few companies worldwide with patented technology that has sold millions of litres of recycled oils (Tacoil) derived from the conversion of end-of-life plastic waste. The company will therefore be responsible for conducting the preliminary study with the aim of developing the new plant in the UK. The study will be partially funded by Nestlé UK and Ireland. This will start in early November and will take around six months to complete.
Plastic Energy uses a patented process called Thermal Anaerobic Conversion (TAC), which converts used plastic waste back to Tacoil, a feedstock that can be used as a feedstock for polymer-chain production.
The contaminated plastic waste from municipal recovery facilities or recycling units is is pre-treated to eliminate all metals, plastics other than LDPE, HDPE, PS and PP and humidity prior to being fed into the TAC process. There, the feedstock is pyrolysed, during which the polymers are broken down, forming a saturated hydrocarbon vapour from which diesel, light oil and gasses are extracted. For every tonne of end-of-life plastic waste processed, 850 litres of chemical feedstock Tacoil are produced.
Plastic Energy’s recycling technology offers both a sustainable solution for hard-to-recycle plastic packaging that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. By building a plant based on the technology, Nestlé would secure a steady source of high-quality recyclate to use in its products.
The recycled oils that we produce from our process replace fossil oils to create new virgin-quality plastics that can be used for food-grade packaging,” said Carlos Monreal, founder and CEO of Plastic Energy
As group packaging manager at Nestlé UK and Ireland, Alison Bramfitt noted, the issue of packaging waste is about more than just reducing the use of virgin plastics, but also ensuring used plastic in packaging has a second life.
“We are working hard to create a circular life span for our packaging so it can have multiple lives and uses, and partnering with Plastic Energy is just one of the ways we are taking steps forward on this journey,” she said.
“We want to increase the amount of recycled plastic we use but there are currently real challenges in the supply of recycled content for food packaging in the UK. That’s why we are excited about the potential of this partnership with Plastic Energy. We hope the outcome of the feasibility study will help offer more insight into the options for supporting the infrastructure in recycling capability in this country.”