Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre has developed its cutting-edge Olefy technology to convert mixed plastic scrap economically into virgin-grade materials ‘an infinite number of times’.
Following four years of testing, the patent-pending chemical recycling solution will be officially launched at the centre in Espoo in October. It is said to be compatible with most types of plastics currently on the market and can extract over 70% of plastics and chemical raw materials components from scrap.
Further research at the synonymous start-up Olefy Technologies will look to divert previously landfilled plastics to recycling by offering an economically viable alternative. In fact, it can handle ‘previously unusable’ plastic waste in a single step with minimal sorting phases, according to VTT ceo Antti Vasara.
‘Plastic waste is one of the five major global problems that we have strategically set to solve,’ he says. ‘Olefy is a quantum leap in recycling that will change the way the world views plastic by making it truly circular and guiding us towards carbon neutrality even faster.’
Vasara points out that one of the problems with current recycling methods is that the quality degrades every time plastic is recycled. ‘After several rounds of mechanical recycling, the quality becomes too poor and the plastic is no longer usable and goes to a landfill.’
With the Olefy recycling process, the quality of the plastic is equal to virgin grade. ‘This means it can be recycled indefinitely and materials no longer need to end up in landfills,’ adds Matti Nieminen, head of technology at Olefy. ‘In essence, Olefy will make it possible for plastic to be a true part of the circular economy.’