Licella, an Australia-based specialist in commercially advanced hydrothermal liquefaction technology has, together with Amcor, Coles, iQ Renew, LyondellBasell, and Nestlé released a report analysing the feasibility of establishing an advanced recycling facility based on that technology in Altona, Victoria.
Currently no such facility exists in Australia; in other words, if built, this would be the first of its kind. The aim is both to establish a recycling route for food and other flexible packaging that is unable to be mechanically recycled and to enable sufficient recycled material to be produced to keep up with the expected growth in demand. With Australia’s National Packaging Targets requiring industry to use an average of 50% recycled content in packaging by 2025, the demand for recycled content, especially food-grade plastic, is expected to surge.
The proposed advanced recycling facility would use Licella’s Cat-HTR (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor) hydrothermal liquefaction technology. Hydrothermal liquefaction uses water under high pressure and temperature to economically and efficiently transform a wide range of “waste” biomass and plastic into a high-quality, sustainable oil. It is a direct substitute for fossil crude, according to Licella.
According to the report, using the oil created from waste plastic in the local plastic packaging supply chain would deliver a 64% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to using crude oil.
The facility would initially process 20,000 tonnes per annum of plastic waste, which would yield 17,000 tonnes of oil a year. Over time, its capacity would be expanded up to 120,000 tonnes of plastic waste per annum - some 24%, of the waste plastics sent to landfill every year in Victoria alone - and generate feedstock for the production of nearly 100,000 tonnes of recycled food-grade plastics per year.
Moreover, if the new facility were constructed, it would provide a boost to local industry, with the potential to create over 300 new jobs in Victoria over the next five years. The facility could also contribute over $100 million a year to the Victorian economy, the study found.
The report comes as a result of a feasibility study that demonstrated that to meet its National Waste Policy commitments a system wide transformation is needed which will be driven by local initiatives like those described in the report. Collaboration across industry and government is essential to drive this change.