diagram of closed loop chemical recycling
Research by Enerkem and Nova Chemicals seeks to close the loop on plastics.
Nova Chemicals an Enerkem

Nova Chemicals, Enerkem partner on advanced recycling technology for plastics

Companies seek to chemically recycle problematic plastic scrap materials into ethylene.


Nova Chemicals Corp., a leading producer of chemicals and plastic resins that is based in Calgary, Alberta, and Enerkem Inc., a waste-to-renewable-fuels-and-chemicals producer, say they have entered into a joint development agreement to explore turning difficult to recycle municipally collected plastic scrap into ethylene, a basic building block of plastics, using advanced recycling technology.

The companies say ethylene produced from scrap would advance a plastics circular economy and help meet consumer brand goals for recycled content in packaging.

“We are excited to work with Enerkem to create innovative, sustainable solutions for a plastics circular economy,” says Todd Karran, president and CEO, Nova Chemicals. “Our R&D teams will collaborate to develop game-changing technology to push the boundaries for recycling waste to create new feedstocks and bring value to the environment, economy and society.”

Montreal-based Enerkem produces methanol and ethanol from what the company calls nonrecyclable, noncompostable municipal solid waste at commercial scale that are used to produce transportation fuels and chemicals that are used in a broad range of everyday products.

“We are delighted to team up with Nova Chemicals to collaborate on new technology for waste-to-ethylene feedstock to solve one of the world's most pressing environmental issues,” says Dominique Boies, CEO and CFO, Enerkem. “This strategic partnership will allow us to explore the development of new products and expand our offering in pursuit of the circular economy.”

Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Enerkem vice president of technology strategy and deployment, adds, “With over 20 years of technology development, we have built a robust gasification platform to turn waste and biomass into fuels and chemicals with high carbon efficiency. Enerkem’s technology has the scale and versatility to supply raw materials for the circular and decarbonized chemical industry that is being created now. Not just for plastics but also for many other chemical ingredients that are vital for everyday life.”  

Nova Chemicals says it is committed to helping all plastic packaging be recyclable or recoverable by 2030; and to reusing, recycling or recovering 100 percent of plastics packaging by 2040.

“This research is one of the ways Nova Chemicals is innovating to recapture the value of plastic products and create a world free of plastic waste,” Karran says. “Working together, we can shape a world that is better tomorrow than it is today.”