|In an effort to open up the range and volume of recovered PP that could be recycled into P&G’s packaging, a polymer scientist at the company developed a “very elegant technology solution to purify waste-stream polypropylene,” Mike Otworth, CEO of Innventure, said in an interview with Plastics Recycling Update.|
P&G approached Innventure with an offer to license the technology and sell into the marketplace the resulting recycled PP.
“We felt that it had a lot of upsides, both in terms of market potential and potential to do good for the environment,” Otworth said, describing the technology as a “purification process.” It does not involve depolymerization, he said.
“There’s no real chemical transformation that goes on,” he said. “It’s a largely physical process.”
Inks and additives are removed in multiple stages. The plastic is heated and the viscosity of the molten resin is varied in a way that creates conditions that are advantageous for efficient purification, he said.
The result is PP with near-virgin-plastic qualities, according to those involved in the project. The process removes odor, contaminants and most color, according to the press release.
Employing 15 people, the PureCycle facility now under construction will serve as a feedstock evaluation unit (FEU), testing a variety of streams to help PureCycle determine what mix to buy to meet end-user requirements.
The press release noted the FEU, slated to begin operation in January, will also assess PureCycle’s environmental impact.
Following the feedstock evaluation unit, company officials plan to open a commercial-scale production facility in late 2020 at the southern Ohio site. That facility will employ over 60 people and is slated to produce 80 million pounds per year from an input of 100 million pounds.