Also known as chemical recycling, advanced recycling helps to close the loop on plastics that currently go to landfill. It complements mechanical recycling and enables a circular economy for soft and hard to recycle plastic.
Compared to other advanced recycling technology, Licella's Cat-HTR™ platform offers a higher value, lower emissions solution to upgrade plastic waste, supporting the Victorian Waste Hierarchy.
As a Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) technology, Cat-HTR™ uses water under high pressure and at high temperature to economically transform a wide range of waste plastic into a safe, stable, sustainable oil; a direct substitute for fossil crude.
Effectively, the very hot, dense water (also known as supercritical water) breaks down the long chemical chains in the plastic to more simple chemicals, forming an oil similar to refined fossil oil.
The Cat-HTR™ is unique among plastic to oil technologies.
Rigid plastics, such as PET water bottles and HDPE milk bottles, can easily be mechanically recycled. They are separated at recycling facilities, re-processed and made into new plastic bottles and containers. Other plastics, such as soft plastic, is difficult to recycle and therefore becomes End-of-Life Plastic after a single use. We want to help change that!
Recycling of soft plastics, such as plastic packaging, is more challenging for a few reasons. Firstly, the presence of fillers and colouring within plastic, and also the use of multiple plastic polymer types, limits the extent to which plastics can be mechanically recycled. At present a significant proportion of End-of-Life plastic is combusted in waste-to-energy facilities or sent to landfill. Advanced recycling not only prevents plastic ending up in the natural environment, it enables a circular economy for all plastic and reduces our use of virgin plastics from fossil resources.
For plastic to be mechanically recycled it needs to be sorted by type, with contamination removed. This is extremely challenging for soft plastic and impossible for multilayer plastic packaging.
Advanced recycling complements mechanical recycling by converting these hard to recycle plastics back into their chemical building blocks (oil), which can then be used to reproduce the plastics from recycled content to a food-grade quality.
Advanced recycling offers a higher value recovery method compared to other waste processing (such as incineration, also known as Waste-to-Energy or energy recovery).
Independent modelling has shown that using the Cat-HTR™ to recycle plastic contributes to the circular economy and creates about half the CO2 emissions of incineration.
We aim to support the established Waste Hierarchy and work alongside existing mechanical recycling practices to close the loop on the vast majority of post-consumer plastics that go to landfill.
Compared to pyrolysis and gasification, our HTL process is more efficient, using less energy and therefore has a lower carbon footprint.
For plastic, Cat-HTR™ can process all plastic polymer types together, including chlorinated plastics and multilayer packaging – a major advantage over pyrolysis.