Innovate UK has granted £0.8 million for a four-way Ecosurety partnership to create new technology that will add value to unrecyclable coloured plastic.
The PolyMet project is a collaboration between Ecosurety, Impact Solutions, Impact Recycling and McLaren Plastics.
Ecosurety originally helped to fund the first round of research into the PolyMet process in 2017.
Hear from key leaders in the recycling sector at The Recycling Event on 2 July at the Ricoh Arena. Attend for just £85+vat: https://www.therecyclingevent.com/
The purpose of the grant is to help develop and bring to market PolyMet, which aims to be the first commercially accessible process for removing the pigment in coloured rigid plastic without destroying the polymers.
It has the potential to create a new market for currently low-value unrecycled plastics through the production of reusable plastic feedstock and will help to mitigate the negative impact of coloured plastics on the environment by diverting them away from landfill and into a circular economy, said Ecosurety.
The UK alone sends an estimated one million tonnes of coloured, rigid plastics to landfill or incineration annually, as this plastic, particularly black, can’t be detected by machines used in the sorting process and the dark pigment limits its use, said the recycling compliance firm.
Impact Solutions’ PolyMet technology uses a chemical process to remove the pigment from coloured rigid plastics without destroying the original plastic polymers.
After the pigment is removed, PolyMet-treated plastic becomes a material that can be put into the plastic manufacturing process as a high-value recyclate.
By using PolyMet in line with current recycling processes, a significant new stream of plastic feedstock could be created by reprocessors at high volume and low cost.
Plastic manufacturing firms could incorporate the additional recycled plastic into their virgin resin grades, helping them to reach the 30% recycled plastic target recently proposed by Government in the packaging consultations.
An Ecosurety analysis has found that increasing the number of plastic PRNs by 1% could trigger a 10% reduction in their price, thereby helping to stabilise the price of recycling evidence for producers while helping the UK build a circular plastics economy.
Impact Solutions innovation manager Tom Rose said: “As plastic technology specialists, finding a solution to the 3.5 million tonnes of plastic material currently being dumped in landfill by the UK each year was a challenge we couldn’t resist.
“This £0.8 million Innovate grant is welcome recognition of the work we have undertaken so far and an endorsement of the positive impact that PolyMet could have for producers, reprocessors and on the environment.
“We look forward to working with Ecosurety, Impact Recycling and McLaren Plastics over the next two years with the shared vision of creating a new technology that can transform the UK recycling market through increased capacity, revenue and jobs.”
Ecosurety chief executive James Piper said: “The long-term objectives of Impact Solutions – to develop a technology that can add value to a plastic contaminant – fits perfectly with Ecosurety’s broader vision of driving forward positive change through increased recycling capacity in the UK recycling sector.
“We are delighted that the huge potential of this collaboration has been recognised by Innovate UK and look forward to working with Impact Solutions over the next two years.”
This innovate UK grant will see Ecosurety provide consultancy support on the two-year PolyMet project, while McLaren Plastics will specify post-process material properties and validation of material suitability for injection moulding.
The vision for PolyMet is to become a low-cost technology that can easily be incorporated into existing recycling facilities, and by providing an alternative to plastic material being landfilled or incinerated, PolyMet could create jobs across the UK. 000000000