PureCycle Technologies LLC, Orlando, Florida, has completed the bond financing required to build its commercial-scale recycling plant in Ironton, Ohio. The company secured about $250 million in bonds for the facility.
As a result of the financing, PureCycle reports that it can begin construction on its phase-two industrial line in Ironton. Once construction is completed, the Ironton plant will be able to produce more than 105 million pounds of recycled polypropylene (PP) per year.
In 2019, PureCycle completed phase one of this project, the feedstock evaluation unit, which Mike Otworth, PureCycle CEO, says was a smaller version of what it hopes to build with the commercial-scale plant. The feedstock evaluation unit, which is also at the Ironton site, was able to purify carpet scrap, transforming it into clear, odorless ultra-pure recycled PP, the company says.
“The need of a solution for PP waste has been and continues to be a driving force for PureCycle. It is even more relevant during our current health crisis that a global solution be the focus to close the loop on making polypropylene a recyclable, valued material instead of letting it wash up on our shores,” Otworth says.
He adds that the company plans to continue to use its feedstock evaluation unit even once the commercial-scale plant is finalized.
“The unit enables us to do testing and run different feedstocks into the system to check the performance. It’s really to make sample quantities of purified resin,” Otworth says.
According to a news release from PureCycle, its recycled PP will be used in consumer goods packaging, home furnishings and other applications that currently have limited options for recycled PP today. The company says it is also working toward submitting a letter of nonobject from the Food and Drug Administration to use its recycled PP in food-grade applications.
“Today, most recycling falls into one of two categories: either mechanical recycling or chemical recycling,” Otworth says. “This process we use is really neither of those. It isn’t mechanical recycling. No chemical reaction takes place, either; we’re not breaking down to monomer and there’s no depolymerization that takes place. It is more of a solvent-based purification process.”
Once it’s at commercial scale, Otworth says the Ironton site will recycle about 119 million pounds of “waste-stream polypropylene” annually, and it will produce about 105 million pounds of purified PP. Feedstock for the plant will come from a variety of postconsumer and postindustrial sources.
“We uniquely can use a vast array of feedstocks, some of which have been not desirable for recycling,” he says.
He adds that the goal is to start operations in mid-2022.
PureCycle focuses on polypropylene because of “unmet needs,” Otworth says.
“Companies want to use more recycled polypropylene, but they don’t want to have to make compromises in terms of appearance or physical properties,” he says. “Right now, for the most part, they do have to make compromises. So, we’re providing a resin that can be colored just as virgin resin can and any vertical can make a product out of polypropylene that has the appearance they are looking for. Even in the most appearance-sensitive applications, you can use our resin interchangeably with virgin.”
Otworth adds that PureCycle’s technology was originally developed by Procter & Gamble. He says polypropylene is the No. 1 plastic by volume that Procter & Gamble uses in its products and packaging, yet he notes that there has been not as much progress made in terms of high-quality recycled resin manufacturing for PP. So, that’s where the company invested in PureCycle and its technology.
“There is really very strong global demand for a very high-quality recycled polypropylene,” Otworth says. “We’re working very diligently to scale the business and built more capacity to meet that demand.”
PureCycle is a portfolio company of Innventure.