Solvent-based purification technologies demonstrate environmental benefits
Merseburg/New York – Today, the US-based investment firm Closed Loop Partners (CLP) released its latest report “Transitioning to a Circular System for Plastics: Assessing Molecular Recycling Technologies in the United States and Canada”. The study focuses specifically on one part of the recycling system: “molecular” or “advanced” recycling technologies. It examines their potential role in a circular and safe future for plastics, as well as the policy, market, and environmental and human health impact conditions needed to achieve this optimal future state. ‘Closed Loop Partners’ report provides much-needed guidance to investors seeking to understand the maturity and performance of innovative plastic recycling technologies’, explains Klaus Wohnig, CEO of APK AG. ‘The study is based on the framework in the US and Canada, but many of the key findings show universal tendencies. We are grateful that Closed Loop Partners chose APK and its Newcycling®-technology to be part of this report’.
The report was prepared over the past 18 months by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy and fits into the firm’s broader Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics & Packaging Initiative. It focuses on molecular recycling, also commonly referred to as advanced recycling or chemical recycling. This category comprises a diverse sector, encompassing dozens of different technologies including advanced physical as well as chemical and biological recycling approaches. During a selection process nine companies – among them APK AG – were chosen to contribute to the study.
The report’s primary achievement is that it provides a detailed comparative analysis of several different technology types and helps to overcome the lack of systems-level analysis of the financial and environmental potential of molecular recycling technologies as well as of the opportunities for and risks to human health. On a more general level, the analysis shows that molecular recycling technologies have the potential to expand the scope of plastics that can be recycled, thereby enabling them to complement existing mechanical recycling infrastructure.
‘In light of APK’s current expansion plans, this detailed comparative analysis of innovative plastics recycling technologies is highly relevant for our future growth. It shows the potential of physical solvent-based technologies – especially in environmental impact categories’, explains Maik Pusch, Director of Corporate Development.
Specifically with regard to solvent purification recycling technologies the report showed:
- Purification processes are distinguished from other molecular recycling technologies by not breaking the bonds of the plastic polymer; purification is a physical process;
- Purification technologies, on average, performed best in the categories of climate impact, material processing efficiency and value-add to existing collection and sorting systems;
- Purification technologies showed strong potential for reducing virgin chemical use and the greatest potential for mitigating human health impacts as compared to virgin plastic production.
Relevance for legislative initiatives to establish a Circular Economy for Plastics
The European Commission’s activities under the umbrella of the Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action plan are driving the transition of the plastics and packaging value chain to a circular economy. Even though many aspects of this complex transition process – such as design for recycling, better collection or sorting – have been approached a comprehensive and comparative analysis of a ‘recycling technology mix of the future – has yet to be conducted. A more stringent discussion of mainstream and ‘at scale’ advanced recycling – physical and chemical – needs to be kicked off with the coming new year. It is high time to concretely address the future plastics recycling infrastructure that will be needed in the EU beyond 2025 and 2030. Investments must be starting today and guidance must be provided to investors as well as all members of the value chain. Technology-neutral regulatory criteria for recycling – such as quality of product and climate impact – could help investors and markets shape an efficient recycling technology landscape across the EU.
The Closed Loop Partners report is an excellent example how sound comparative analysis can be brought together and generate meaningful findings.
About APK AG
APK was founded in 2008, with the vision of producing the purest possible plastic recyclates from plastic waste, with characteristics comparable to those of virgin plastics. With their Newcycling® process, APK’s research team and engineers have developed an efficient recycling technology that combines mechanical and solvent-based processes. At present, APK employs a staff of around 140 employees at its Merseburg (Germany) location. The production plant features a recycling capability of up to 20,000 tonnes per year. APK’s recyclates are marketed under the names Mersalen® and Mersamid®.
About Closed Loop Partners
Closed Loop Partners is a New York based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project finance and an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. The firm has built an ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs, industry experts, global consumer goods companies, retailers, financial institutions, and municipalities, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. Learn more at www.closedlooppartners.com.