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UK plastic plant is ‘world-first’ commercial-scale chemical recycler

A new facility being built in the UK is said to be the world’s first commercial-scale chemical plant for converting all types of plastic waste into oil and gas for use in new plastic products.

Construction has started on Mura Technology’s operation on Teesside in the north-east of England and it is due to be operational in 2022 and capable of processing 80 000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. It anticipates a rapid global rollout that will see one million tonnes of capacity in development worldwide by 2025. Sites are planned in Germany, the US and Asia.

The company’s patented Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution (HydroPRS), using Cat-HTR technology developed and owned by Licella Holdings, breaks down plastic using supercritical steam (water at elevated pressure and temperature). The steam cuts longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds in the plastics to produce the chemicals and oils from which the material was originally made.

The process is claimed to deliver 80-100% more value than energy from waste treatment of plastic waste with nearly half the CO2 remissions. Cat-HTR produces a yield of around 85% oil and 15% gas – which can power the reactor. Mura believes new products may be suitable for use in food-contact packaging.

Ceo Steve Mahon says: ‘HydroPRS represents a win-win for the environment, economy and society. We need to act now and that’s why we’re taking a global-first approach – to scale fast and meet the challenge head on. We’re working with global partners to deploy our unique HydroPRS process where it’s needed, today, to create a sustainable future and eliminate plastic pollution.’

In October 2020, the Teesside project was awarded £4.42m by the UK Government via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme.

In January 2020, Recycling International reported on plans to take the technology to China.

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