After four decades of thermal conversion technology development, VTT has spun out a new company, Olefy, whose technology can affordably convert most of the world’s waste plastics back to usable virgin grade materials an infinite number of times.
VTT also announced eight patent applications for the process. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is a state-owned and controlled, not-for-profit limited liability company.
Olefy Technologies’ patent-pending technology can extract over 70% virgin grade plastics and chemical raw materials components from plastic waste. The new process can be done in a single step, majorly reducing the cost of plastic recycling and making recycling a preferred option for massive amounts of landfill-bound plastic waste that current methods are unable to process.
Today, only about 10% of global plastics get recycled. But only a limited share of plastic waste can be mechanically recycled. And the resulting recycled plastic cannot be used in food packaging and pharmaceutical applications.
Most plastic waste ends up in landfills. The opportunity to get virgin quality plastic from previously unusable plastic waste means that with Olefy it is economically viable to recycle most of the world’s plastics with minimal sorting by consumers and businesses.
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.
Olefy’s new technology also eliminates the need for naphtha feedstock and is also able to produce enough energy for the process. “A major advantage of the virgin quality materials produced from the Olefy process is that it enables plastic to be recycled an infinite number of times,” says 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.”
Major consumer product companies have set ambitious targets for incorporating recycled plastic into their products as well as packages – a typical goal being 25% of their total packaging by 2025. Around the world, demand for sustainable and recycled plastics is higher than ever.
Essentially, with the Olefy process, it takes the same amount of ethylene or propylene based waste plastic as higher-cost naphtha feedstock to produce a ton of virgin grade plastic material.
The working Olefy pilot is successfully running at VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre in Espoo, Finland. The company is currently discussing partnerships and negotiating with investors for scaling, business development, and licensing of the technology.
The first industrial demonstration operation is expected to be operational by 2026. For more information, write to email@example.com.