You could notice the PureCycle emblem on recycling containers if you visit a sports arena.
A U.S.-based startup called PureCycle is working to turn plastic waste into something that can be recycled indefinitely. In order to recycle as much polypropylene (PP) waste plastic as possible, the company has collaborated with stadiums in Orlando, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville during the past year on a pilot initiative.
In addition to educating consumers about No. 5 plastic, the stadium’s employees, who make purchase decisions, will also benefit from the pilot project’s education efforts.
According to PureCycle CEO Dustin Olson, “we train them how to adjust their purchasing behaviors so that they can end up with a constant sort of plastic.”
Plastic No. 5 One of the most adaptable plastics available today is waste polypropylene (PP). Polyethylene is still the most widely used plastic in the world, but polypropylene is also used extensively since it is a tough plastic that may be found in a variety of products, including carpets, cars, food, toys, and textiles.
Polypropylene has the drawback of being overly effective, according to Olson. Because of its versatility, recycling is highly challenging. You end up with a mountain of variously shaped materials.
the company Proctor & Gamble The large consumer corporation created a novel recycling method that falls under the category of chemical recycling back in 2013 in its R&D labs. Chemical recycling creates a “virgin” plastic that may, in the opinion of P&G and others, be used and recycled indefinitely by breaking down difficult-to-recycle plastics, such as PP, into their molecular components.
The fundamental benefit of this kind of recycling is that it can handle materials of all shapes, colors, and hues of filth and garbage adhering to them. It differs from mechanical recycling in that it only sorts and recycles the most prevalent polymers if they are made of single molecules.
The US Government Accountability Office reports that 75% of plastic still ends up in landfills in 2018. Only 8.7% of plastic is recycled, largely by mechanical recycling, which can be costly and inefficient but is something that most of us are already accustomed to—the blue and green bins.
Chemical recycling intends to significantly alter that percentage. It’s known as a “closed loop” or circularity notion in various industries. Since plastic is generated, transformed into items, sold to consumers, and then recycled into a brand-new material called polypropylene resin, the concept is that plastic products have an indefinite lifespan. This was first shown by PureCycle in 2019 when it turned used carpet into a viable feedstock that manufacturers could buy. This occurred at Ohio’s original PureCycle facility.
However, it suggests a bigger market for PP waste. According to a Closed Loop Partners report, the market for PP materials might reach $120 billion. This is partly because China banned importing plastic garbage from the United States in 2018. A sizable market for recyclable garbage was therefore created.
According to the Product Stewardship Institute, more than 40 businesses have entered the chemical recycling industry as of 2021, including significant heavyweights like ExxonMobil and Eastman Chemical.
However, the nonprofit points out that laws have been passed in states like Maine, Oregon, Colorado, and California to make chemical recycling more challenging for businesses by keeping the process in the “disposal” category and thus falling under the Clean Air Act’s regulations rather than the manufacturing category, which carries the less regulatory burden.
However, in several places, such as Georgia, Florida, Texas, and others, the law is moving in the opposite way. Ohio approved laws in 2019 that made it possible to turn plastics into gasoline. Chemical recycling is “greenwashing incineration,” according to the National Resources Defense Council.
By 2023, PureCycle, a division of Innventures, a disruptor-focused investment firm, plans to have its Ohio facility in Ironton fully operating. The goal is to consume enough polypropylene to produce 107 million pounds of “Ultra-Pure Recycled” resin. This substance would serve as the foundation for either new items or fuel.
Olson noted that consumers now are considerably different from those of 20 years ago. They have a passion for sustainability. Technology is catching up as well. To lead the answer, technology is a necessity.
In addition, PureCycle is establishing collaborations with South Korea and Japan and constructing a facility in Augusta, Georgia,