New technique to recycle old plastics hits UK

The process uses hot, high-pressure water to chemically recycle end-of-life materials into synthetic oils and valuable chemicals

Big Zero Report 2022

A new technology to chemically recycle old plastics into valuable oils and chemicals could soon be introduced in Britain.

ReNew ELP says it will introduce its hydrothermal upgrading technology, known as Cat-HTR, through a number of new plants which will help the UK slash the amount of waste it sends to landfill.

The process uses water at high pressure and high temperatures to chemically recycle materials such as end-of-life plastics and used tyres into synthetic oils and valuable chemicals by breaking them down to their original component molecules.

The firm is building the first commercial scale Cat-HTR plant in Teesside – it is expected to initially recycle 20,000 tonnes of end-of-life plastic per year.

It has planning consent to build a further three units, with a potential total processing capacity of 80,000 tonnes per year.

Richard Daley, Managing Director, said: “Our technology provides an innovative solution to the global problem of end-of-life plastic disposal and contributes to the creation of a circular economy.

“The process achieves in 20 minutes what takes nature 200 million years. Our technology is unique when compared to every other thermal conversion process, as it uses water as the ‘agent of change’ so the plant can operate at far lower temperatures making it more efficient than pyrolysis or gasification.”

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