Honeywell International Inc. claims to have developed a commercially viable method for melting down low-grade plastic waste and converting it back into oil suitable for feeding into a refinery.
The company has collaborated with the Spanish infrastructure company Sacyr SA to construct the first plant using the UpCycle Process Technology. The process is expected to convert 30,000 metric tons of mixed plastic trash into fuel each year.
Honeywell’s Performance Materials & Technologies unit, according to Gavin Towler, chief technology officer, is using technology that it has developed and refined for a decade to remove impurities from hydrocarbons before they are refined into fuel.
This technique is being used with automated systems for sorting through plastic trash sacks and removing unwanted materials.
“Now, we’re at the point where the picking technology and the conversion technology can go together,” Towler said in a telephone interview. “We can handle the mixed plastic waste. We can make it into high-quality oil.”
Honeywell has vast experience in plastic waste purification and claims its process “has the potential to increase the amount of global plastic waste that can be recycled to 90 percent.”
According to Bloomberg, only 2% of plastic waste is currently recycled into reusable materials, indicating a significant increase. About half of the waste is either burned or disposed of in landfills, with the remaining 30% ending up in the ocean or other waterways.
The planet’s overdependence on plastic is life-threatening. “Plastics play an important role in our society, including expanding the shelf life of food and making vehicles lighter, which reduces their emissions,” Vimal Kapur, CEO of Honeywell, said.
“Unfortunately, only a fraction of plastics today can be successfully recycled.”
“By broadening the types of plastic that can be recycled, UpCycle will revolutionize the plastics economy and play a critical role in improving the sustainability of many of the products we use on a daily basis,” he added.
Let’s see if Honeywell is the one with the golden solution to our growing issue of plastic pollution. Only time will tell!