Closed Loop Partners, New York, and its Center for the Circular Economy are launching the Advanced Recycling Innovator Program (ARIP) as a part of its broader Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics Initiative. Through ARIP, Closed Loop Partners is working with several companies and a network of industry and nonprofit stakeholders to analyze the environmental and human health impacts of advancing recycling processes and identifying investable opportunities along the supply chain to scale up technologies that address plastic scrap.
According to a news release from Closed Loop Partners, nine technology companies are involved in ARIP, including APK AG, Brightmark, Carbios, Enerkem, gr3n, GreenMantra, Jeplan, Plastic Energy and PureCycle Technologies.
“We are working with this group of technology companies in this sector that span different geographies, growth stages and technology typologies,” says Paula Luu, director at Closed Loop Partners. “All technology companies fall under one of three technology typologies—purification, decomposition and conversion—and within each category, there are different types of processes from thermal to biological to solvent-based processes. The diverse companies represent the evolving field of advanced recycling, and together we want to accelerate the development of safe and sustainable solutions to address plastic waste.”
In 2019, Closed Loop Partners released a seminal report on the current landscape for plastic scrap. The company reported that only 9 percent of the world’s plastics are currently recycled, and demand for plastics is expected to triple by 2050. In addition, the company says demand for recycled plastics is expected to grow in the next five years, as many consumer goods companies have made public commitments to use recycled content in their products and packaging. However, the supply of plastic scrap is lagging.
Based on its 2019 research, Closed Loop Partners launched ARIP to continue that research and explore circular solutions for plastic scrap. The nine companies involved in ARIP use one of three advanced recycling processes: decomposition, conversion or purification. Through these processes, plastics that were previously considered low-value scrap or hard-to-recycle scrap mechanically can be transformed into new products or building blocks to make new products or packaging, including food-grade recycled content. When scaled up, these processes can complement mechanical recycling, ensuring there is a market for all recycled plastics.
Luu adds that the nine companies convened by Closed Loop Partners plan to connect regularly to collaborate as part of the company’s efforts to establish better lines of communication in hopes of spurring more collaboration and investment in plastics recycling.
“Each company is working with Closed Loop Partners, contributing data and insights, which ultimately help shape the development of our investor road map,” she says. “This road map will outline the environmental and human health impact analyses that we’re undertaking and identify the opportunities to scale these technologies in safe and economically viable ways."
To evaluate the potential of the advanced recycling technologies showcased by these nine companies, Closed Loop Partners formed a group of brands, retailers, financial institutions, investors, petrochemical trade associations, plastics producers and environmental nongovernmental organizations to engage with ARIP to learn more about the environmental and human health aspects of these plastics recycling technologies, as well as the current policy and investment landscape.
“We’re collecting data and developing tools for investors, brands, retailers, policymakers and nongovernmental organization groups that will help lead us to building circular systems for plastics,” Luu adds. “Closed Loop Partners and the ARIP members also want to further strengthen and solidify the relationships among stakeholders in the space, collectively benefiting from shared insights, data and networks.”