Startup company builds machine to recycle the ‘unrecyclables’
Image credit: Recycling Technologies
An innovative UK startup company is seeking funding to build its first production machine that can turn hard-to-recycle plastics into useful oils and waxes.
Recycling Technologies is already operating a small scale prototype of a process that can handle problematic plastics including crisp packets, the black trays used in packaging for some vegetables, carrier bags and film wrappings often found around open cartons and boxes. These are some of the most common items found in mixed recycling bags that presently are usually removed and disposed of through landfill or incineration instead of recycled.
These plastics ‘residuals’ are a growing problem in the environment, ending up in even the remotest places on earth including, it was confirmed this week, living organisms in the deepest parts of the world’s oceans.
Contamination of collections of mixed recyclables with non-recyclables is also a growing issue in the industry. China, which receives the majority of recyclables from the UK, has started to refuse material it says is too contaminated. This means the material is building up in backlogs at Hong Kong and UK recyclers are struggling to find other countries to process the material in the longer run.
The RT7000 system from the Swindon-based innovator turns these waste streams into a hydrocarbon product it calls Plaxx, which “boosts the development of the circular economy by retaining the usage of crude oil-based materials and reducing their carbon footprint.” It is already operating the prototype pictured above and was at the Innovate UK show in Birmingham last week to try to attract investors to build a working production machine in Scotland by December 2018.
The process produces a number of end-products: a wax substitute for paraffin waxes; a base oil for making industrial lubricants; a petrochemical ingredient for making plastic; and ingredients for a marine fuel substitute with low sulphur content to meet new international regulations.