Grangemouth to trial recycling hard plastic

By Dominic Ellis
INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe, Petroineos and Plastic Energy are teaming up to trial recycling durable plastic

INEOS Olefins & Polymers EuropePetroineos and Plastic Energy are teaming up to trial recycling durable plastic.

The process will use existing refinery operations, replacing oil with TACOIL made from waste flexible food packaging, to remake virgin plastic for reuse in food and hygiene applications, at INEOS' Grangemouth facility in Scotland

The preliminary trial, starting Q1 2022, will inform the development of a large-scale advanced recycling plant, which aims to be the first of its kind in the UK. 

The firms will convert ‘hard to recycle plastic material’, such as flexible packaging, back into food-grade plastic for use in food packaging, and other high hygiene standard applications.

Advanced Recycling creates a closed-loop system for plastics management, helps reduce landfill, prevents plastic from ending up in the environment, and reduces the use of fossil derived raw materials. The circular re-use of ‘end of life’ plastic is a further step to reduce total emissions.

INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe and Plastic Energy have a shared goal to create a world class circular economy value chain in advanced recycling, driving circularity to create the next generation of food-grade recycled content packaging.

Plastic Energy uses its advanced recycling process to convert post-consumer plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incineration, through a pyrolysis process, into a liquid raw material (TACOIL) for re-use in the next generation of plastic production. TACOIL is used as a replacement for fossil derived materials, to make food-grade and/or medical grade plastics.

The trial will take place in partnership with Petroineos at Grangemouth. It will use the existing refinery operations to process the TACOIL supplied by Plastic Energy, which already operate two recycling plants in Spain.

Plastic Energy’s technology allows for the improvement in circularity of highly demanding labelling, and packaging applications, such as chocolate bars, snacks and biscuits, pet and dry food. The new project is complementary to the existing use of mechanically recycled plastic in INEOS Recycl-IN range of products.

Petroineos will supply the recycled raw material to INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe to be transformed into Certified Circular plastic with the identical properties expected of conventional plastics made from oil and gas. 

The partners recognise the need for collaboration to make such innovations sustainable at scale – in the spirit of “SDG#17 Partnerships for the Goals”, each partner contributes complementary skills and expertise that together create the circular value chain.

Carlos Monreal, Founder and CEO of Plastic Energy, said: “We are pleased to announce this trial in Scotland, which exemplifies a strong partnership between companies working together to take big strides to reduce plastic waste in the UK. Working with INEOS, we are pleased to see our advanced recycling technology being used as a core component to improve the circularity of packaging.”

Peter Grant, Business Director at INEOS Olefins & Polymers (UK) Europe, added that turning end of life plastic into new food-grade quality packaging products makes environmental and commercial sense.

"This innovative trial is a further positive step towards eliminating waste and makes circular economy solutions possible," he said. "Advanced recycling adds to the existing initiatives within our product portfolio to make greater use of post-consumer material, while ensuring that sustainable solutions meet all safety, quality and performance in-use standards.

"Today’s announcement is a milestone on our journey to implementing this technology at scale. There are many important steps ahead and ultimately, we are all dependent on good waste recovery and recycling systems. The objective is to ensure plastic is recovered for recycling and reuse, giving valuable natural resources a second life, increasing recycling rates, finding solutions for post consumer waste, and therefore driving a circular economy."

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