Recycling Technologies, a specialist plastic recycling technology provider; Neste, the world’s leading provider of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and a forerunner in drop-in renewable and circular chemical solutions; and Unilever, the consumer goods manufacturer of leading global brands, will collaborate to further develop and harness chemical recycling to recover and reuse plastic packaging that is currently either incinerated, buried in landfill or exported from the UK. A joint project involving these three companies has been awarded a £3.1m grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop chemical recycling by combining the expertise of these global leaders in their respective business areas to make hard-to-recycle plastic packaging recyclable.
In this three-year project, Recycling Technologies will take waste plastic packaging and process it using its recycling machinery to turn it into an oil, called Plaxx®. This material will then be delivered to Neste to analyse and test its quality and suitability for further upgrading it into high-quality drop-in feedstock for the production of new, virgin-quality plastics, such as plastic packaging. Unilever, joining an already well-established collaboration between Recycling Technologies and Neste, will bring insight on design for recycling for packaging.
The grant will help assist, support and refine the testing and any improvement of Recycling Technologies’ chemical recycling plant being built currently at Binn Farm in Perthshire, Scotland. This collaboration will allow the company to improve its systems to process waste plastic optimally to upgrade the Plaxx® so it can be easily further refined at Neste’s facilities into high-quality feedstock for the manufacture of new plastics. The alliance will demonstrate new added-value applications for hard-to-recycle waste plastic materials, such as films, sachets and pouches, using them to create output that can be used to make new packaging.
Neste has extensive experience of handling low-quality waste and residue raw materials, such as renewable waste and residue oils and fats, and processing them into high-quality products. Neste is committed to developing scalable solutions to accelerate plastics recycling with several partners and aims to introduce liquefied plastic waste as a refinery raw material to replace fossil oil use in the production of feedstock for new plastics. Its collaboration with Recycling Technologies enables Neste to accelerate the development of one of the very promising chemical recycling technologies.
Adrian Griffiths, Founder and Chief Executive of Recycling Technologies, said, “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from UKRI to move the UK to the forefront of the next generation of plastic recycling systems. Our collaboration with Neste will allow us to refine and improve our technology to produce valuable feedstock from waste plastic that can be incorporated into the petrochemicals industry supply chain to increase the content of recycled plastic in new plastic production. Our work with Unilever will identify hard to recycle plastics from current mechanical recyclers and how to evolve their design construction to improve their recyclability, ensuring compatibility with Recycling Technologies’ chemical recycling process, for incorporation into new packaging.”
Mercedes Alonso, Executive Vice President, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals from Neste, said, “We are excited to have Unilever join the project that builds upon Neste’s ongoing collaboration with Recycling Technologies. UKRI funding for this ground-breaking joint project helps speed up the development of chemical recycling. It enables us project partners to generate new data on how design for recycling could best be geared towards increasing recycling rates of those types of packaging waste that to this day have not been recyclable. Collaborative efforts like this one across the plastics value chain are key to accelerating the transition to a circular plastics economy,”
Sebastian Munden, Executive Vice President, Unilever UK & Ireland, said, “We’re really pleased to be part of this collaboration with Recycling Technologies and Neste, developing a solution for plastic which is currently difficult to recycle, including plastic films and flexible packaging. “As part of this collaboration, we’ve committed to looking at the design of our products for greater recyclability, as well as the possibility to use the recycled material back in our product packaging, which would create the end market and value for the materials.
“Unilever is committed to halving the amount of virgin plastic we use in our packaging by 2025, including increasing our use of recycled plastic. Collaboration between partners and industry experts is so important, as together we can develop solutions with innovations that are effective and scalable”.
About Recycling Technologies
UK-based company, Recycling Technologies, is on a mission to accelerate the evolution of plastic into a more sustainable material. Currently, 88% of the plastic used in the world is either buried, burned or leaked into the environment1. This means that the world recycles only 12% of the 260 million tons of plastic waste produced each year2. Recycling Technologies has developed an innovative technology, the RT7000, which turns hard-to-recycle plastic such as films, bags, laminated plastics into an oil, called Plaxx®, used as a feedstock for new plastic production. The RT7000 is modular and small-scale, designed to fit easily onto existing waste treatment and recycling sites, providing a scalable solution to recycle waste plastic anywhere in the world. For further information, please visit www.recyclingtechnologies.co.uk.
1. McKinsey&Co – How plastics-waste recycling could transform the chemical industry
2. Plastics Europe – Plastics the facts 2019
Neste (NESTE, Nasdaq Helsinki) creates solutions for combating climate change and accelerating a shift to a circular economy. We refine waste, residues and innovative raw materials into renewable fuels and sustainable feedstock for plastics and other materials. We are the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, developing chemical recycling to combat the plastic waste challenge. We aim at helping customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with our renewable and circular solutions by at least 20 million tons annually by 2030. As a technologically advanced refiner of high-quality oil products with a commitment to reach carbon-neutral production by 2035, we are also introducing renewable and recycled raw materials such as waste plastic as refinery raw materials. We have consistently been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and the Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable companies. In 2019, Neste’s revenue stood at EUR 15.8 billion, with 82% of the company’s comparable operating profit coming from renewable products
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:
- Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
- Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
- Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.