Companies produce high-quality cross-linked polyethylene pipes from chemically recycled PEX waste

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PEX pipe production

A collaboration between Neste, Uponor, Wastewise and Borealis has led to the production of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipes from chemically recycled waste.

Currently, these high-quality pipes that are used in heating and plumbing are very difficult to recycle because of the interconnected polymer chains that provide the essential temperature resistance and longevity.

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But through use of chemical recycling technology, it has been possible to turn waste from PEX pipe production back into polymers to create new ones.

The cooperation sees Wastewise use its pyrolysis-based chemical recycling technology to liquify waste from Uponor’s PEX pipe production.

At Neste’s oil refinery in Finland, the resulting oil-like material is processed into a new feedstock polymer. Borealis then feeds this into its steam cracker to polymerise it into polyethylene. Finally, Uponor creates new pipes from the material.

Uponor chief executive Thomas Fuhr said: “We are very excited about this collaboration as it gives us a head start on our transition to circular materials.

“PEX is by far the material that has the most versatile application uses, from building water supply systems to efficient radiant heating and cooling systems, thanks to its superior properties for the construction industry. At Uponor we have just celebrated the first 50 years of our PEX piping, and now our new long-term goal is to use 100% of our PEX waste as raw material through closed loop recycling.”