Innovative solutions for plastic recycling
Breaking down plastic waste into monomers allows recyclers to recover most of the materials from waste streams, as the recycling loop is shorter with depolymerisation technology. Startups are using chemical and biological means to recover monomers from waste streams. Enzymic recycling, for example, uses bacterial catalysts to break down plastic waste into high-quality monomers. Monomers can directly replace fossil feedstocks, enabling recyclers to ensure high-quality recycled products.
Scindo provides enzymic plastic recycling
UK-based Scindo is an early-stage enterprise focused on developing enzymic plastic recycling solutions. The company's biological platform breaks down polymers into high-value monomers. They are used in industries such as chemistry, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals as affordable raw materials. This allows recyclers to divert plastic waste from incineration and landfill sites, promoting circular economy and high-profit returns.
DePoly advances chemical depolymerisation
Swiss startup DePoly recovers polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics into monomers using chemical methods. The company's proprietary solution streamlines pre-sorting, pre-washing and material separation processes, supporting multi-layered items and multi-coloured fibres. Additionally, DePoly's solution produces purified purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) with purities high enough for repolymerisation. This enables PET manufacturers to use waste plastic as a feedstock to replace fossil fuel-based raw materials in the production of high-quality PET.
Advanced mechanical recycling
Mechanical recycling is currently a suitable management approach for plastic waste. As the quality of waste streams significantly impacts the efficiency of mechanical recycling, the industry has noted innovations in waste collection, sorting and separation. These solutions include artificial intelligence-assisted systems that speed up plastic waste sorting and more effective reverse logistics to ensure high-quality waste streams. These solutions enable plastic recyclers to improve the quality of their recycled materials and transform low-quality streams into high-quality recycled plastic. Other advances in mechanical recycling include robot-assisted conveyor belts that accelerate waste sorting and quality grading, improving operational efficiency.
Veridis provides plastic analysis
Dutch startup Veridis analyses plastic quality using thermal scanning. Its product, MADSCAN, uses differential scanning calorimetry to map thermal capacity changes in plastic materials as temperature varies, detecting high-precision melt, glass transition, phase change and solidification transformations. Furthermore, MADSCAN is a non-scale device that requires minimal sample preparation and optimal sample volume. This provides plastic recyclers with a unique material "fingerprint" identification, enabling them to optimise processes and increase their commercial value.
Wecycle drives sustainable recycling
Norwegian non-profit startup Wecycle has a local recycling facility in Oslo. The company utilises open-source recycling machines from the Precious Plastic model and community-based recycling. Wecycle's plastic recycling process supports various mixed plastic wastes. Crushers tear plastic into thin slices, which are then heated and moulded into new products such as coloured tiles by this company's injection moulding machines. This significantly reduces the carbon footprint of plastic collection and recycling, enabling sustainable operations.