Zero Waste News: New Recycling Tech & Circular Economy Marketplace

Hello!

In the past two weeks, we have gathered our favorite stories about innovations in the State of Waste to bring you the tea on ones we like best:

One of the biggest challenges in the fight against plastic and plastic pollution is that recycling is hugely underutilized and the end product is often low-quality and not suitable for use to make medical- and food-safe plastics.

Another challenge is that the scale of recycling capabilities is limited and not yet a global solution to the millions of tons of plastic that has been, and continues to be, produced every year.

However, there have been some truly wonderful advances in solving these problems:  

PureCycle Technologies is Taking Polypropylene Recycling Global

PureCycle Technologies plans to take their ground-breaking patented recycling process, developed by Procter & Gamble, global. The technology allows for Polypropylene recycling that separates color, odor, and contaminants from plastic waste to be transformed into ultra-pure recycled polypropylene. The recycled product is a virgin-like plastic and fully closes the loop on the reuse of recycled plastics.

The best part is that they will be able to scale the operation to a global enterprise. They have the support of global commercial brands like Proctor and Gamble, Milliken and Company, L’Oreal, Total, and BMW.

They plan to have 7 plants globally by 2025, which will mean they can make a huge dent in the production of new plastics, by replacing them with recycled material from the millions of tons of it that we already have on the earth and isn’t going anywhere, ever!

Li-Cycle and New Flyer Team Up to Complete Heavy-Duty Battery Recycling Pilot

The production and recycling of Lithium-Ion batteries have long been a major environmental concern. As the world moves towards sustainable energy and electric vehicles, the recycling of heavy-duty Lithium-ion batteries has taken center stage and become a contentious issue.  

Lithium-ion batteries have always been impractical to recycle. The process creates hazardous waste and the loss of valuable, finite materials. In the past, many have been landfilled or only partially recycled. The traditional recycling process only recovers around 40% of the materials used and the rest is lost (to landfills).

Li-Cycle Corp is America's biggest recycler of Lithium-iron batteries and they have teamed up with global bus manufacturer New Flyer to pilot a project that turns bus batteries into ‘black mass’ a mixture of lithium, nickel, cobalt and copper. Li-Cycle's Hub then processes the ‘black mass’ and produces critical, battery-grade materials, and other recycled materials, that can be returned to the economy.

This is a major step in the right direction and can be scaled to handle the inevitable surge in battery production and disposal that will come with the recent increased demand for electric vehicles on a global scale.

Circular in Motion Targets Recycled Plastics for their Online Sustainable Materials Market

Netherlands-based Circular in Motion has launched a buy and sell e-commerce platform for certified circular materials. The aim is to “help operators, from municipalities to companies of all sizes, shift from linear to circular economy” and they’re focusing on recycled plastic as raw materials.

Materials bought and sold on the platform are carefully vetted and traced throughout the value chain and certified through “history, specifications and the proof of origin”. They have launched as a beta version until March 1, 2021, allowing operators to join and operate free of charge. The plan is to expand and eventually scale its operation beyond the EU.

These are all major steps forward and notable for their potential to scale to global efforts, which is where the true potential for real change lies. We’re very excited to see where these innovations will go and how the state of waste will change in the near future!  

That’s all for today.

Until next time,

Liza and Johanna