PureCycle Technologies, in partnership with consumer goods company P&G, headquartered in Cincinnati, began construction on a plant in Lawrence County, Ohio, that is designed to recycle polypropylene (PP) plastic to “virgin-like” quality.
The patented technology employed at the facility was developed in P&G labs. P&G licensed the technology to PureCycle, a portfolio company of Chicago-based Innventure, a Wasson Enterprise Partnership, also based in Chicago, that “commercializes disruptive technologies.”
Founded in 2015, PureCycle’s small-scale plant in Lawrence County will test and calibrate the PP recycling process. The plant will begin operating in January 2018, according to a news release issued by PureCycle, and the full-scale plant will open in 2020.
“This is a case where a hundred-billion-dollar industry required new technology to meet a compelling, unmet need,” says Mike Otworth, CEO of PureCycle Technologies. “Both manufacturers and consumers have signaled a strong preference for recycling plastics, which otherwise pollute oceans, landfills and other natural places. Until now, recycled PP had limited applications. We’re single-handedly removing those limitations and giving companies the choice to use more sustainable, recycled resins.”
The global PP market is valued at more than $80 billion, according to Transparency Market Research, and is on track to reach $133.3 billion by 2023. PP is used in automobile interiors, food and beverage packaging, consumer good packaging, electronics, construction materials, home furnishings and many other products.
“Our approach to innovation not only includes products and packaging but [also] technologies that allow us and others to have a positive impact on our environment,” says Kathy Fish, P&G chief technology officer. “This technology, which can remove virtually all contaminants and colors from used plastic, has the capacity to revolutionize the plastics recycling industry by enabling P&G and companies around the world to tap into sources of recycled plastics that deliver nearly identical performance and properties as virgin materials in a broad range of applications.”
Steve Alexander, CEO of the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR), Washington, says, “In the U.S. alone, the demand for virgin-quality recycled PP is immense. The Association of Plastics Recyclers has identified 1 billion pounds of recycled PP demand in North American alone; 720 million pounds of that demand is for ‘high-quality’ recycled PP.”
Despite PureCycle using recycling technology developed by P&G, the recycled PP the company produces will be available for purchase across industries, according to the company.
P&G says this technology demonstrates its commitment to sustainability and helps in achieving the company’s 2020 recycling goals (doubling the use of recycled resin in plastic packaging and ensuring 90 percent of product packaging is either recyclable or programs are in place to create the ability to recycle it).