Recycling Startup Turns Plastics Into Oil

While glass, paper, and separated plastics such as PET and HDPE are routinely recycled in many areas, unsorted plastic waste - or mixed plastic waste (MPW) as it is known - is often destined for landfills or incineration. The startup Recycling Technologies, however, recently received funding to help end this dilemma with its machines that convert MPW into an oil that may be sold or used as a fuel in combined heat and power facilities.

How it works

According to the company, its system begins the recycling process by shredding and drying mixed plastic waste. It then injects blended product into a fluidized bed where, in an oxygen depleted environment, the long hydrocarbon chains in the polymers are broken down by pyrolysis to form an energy rich gas. This gas is then filtered to remove contamination and cooled to provide a type of heavy fuel oil. This fuel, which the company calls PlaxOil, can be resold into the hydrocarbons market. Below is a schematic (click to enlarge) detailing the recycling process Recycling Technologies uses.

Click to Enlarge

The company, which is based in the UK, will use funding to further develop its product in the UK and elsewhere.

Could this technology lead to viable landfill mining?