27 October 2011
A Warwick spin-out company, developing a system that can recycle all kinds of plastic waste, is looking for funding to build a scaleable demonstrator unit to showcase the technology’s capabilities.
Warwick Ventures is assisting Recycling Technologies in its bid to secure funding as it moves towards commercial production of the machine, which was first demonstrated in the University of Warwick’s School of Engineering.
There is currently no technology available that can recycle mixed plastics, so much of this waste is either burned or tipped into landfill. In the EU alone, 11.2 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced each year. Because of the wide variety of plastic packaging available, consumers are also often unsure about which plastics can be recycled, meaning even more is simply thrown away. Improved systems for recycling plastics are therefore urgently needed.
The system Recycling Technologies is developing works by heating plastics in a specialised chemical reactor, called an advanced Fluidised Bed Reactor to pyrolysis temperatures, which allow the polymers that make up the different plastics to be broken down into monomers – the original building blocks from which the plastic was made. These can then be recovered and reused, along with other valuable materials such as aluminium, which is often used to line plastic-coated drinks cartons.
The technology has already been demonstrated at a small pilot plant at the University, but now Recycling Technologies wants to build a machine that will allow potential customers, such as waste recycling firms, to see their own plastic waste being processed
Kevin Marks, Business Development Manager at Warwick Ventures, says: “We have had an enormous amount of interest in this technology, both from recycling companies and from major manufacturers interested in finding better solutions for managing their plastic waste. Once the demonstrator unit is built, we will be able to start to work closely with these companies to design bespoke systems to meet their particular needs.”