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Is Australian innovation the answer to complex plastics?

Australia consumes 3.4 million tonnes of plastic each year, of which only 9% is recycled. This low rate inspired technology pioneer Licella Holdings to strike up an innovative partnership with BioLogiQ to advance the chemical recycling of ‘unrecyclable’ plastic scrap.

At the centre of the partnership is Licella’s breakthrough catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) which converts end-of-life polyethylene (PE) into liquid hydrocarbon products. The process delivers 80-100% more value than waste-to-energy practices and produces 45% less CO2 emissions.

Unlike pyrolysis, the Cat-HTR technology can recycle a blend of end-of-life plastics including polypropylene, polystyrene, soft plastics (low density PE) and multilayer flexible plastic packaging without having to sort them into single streams. This flexibility increases the quantity of plastic that can be recycled and therefore the value of the process. Cat-HTR produces a high yield of around 85% oil with the balance becoming gas that can power the reactor.

Both Licella and BiologiQ are working together to monetise the Cat-HTR technology in Australia, which is said to have the potential to host up to 30 commercial-scale plants.

Meanwhile, global partner Mura Technology will be working alongside BioLogiQ to take the recycling solution to China. Accelerating the Cat-HTR solution globally could help deal with the estimated 111 million tonnes of plastic waste that will be displaced by the Chinese import ban over the next 10 years.

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