Waste plastic as a fuel? Neste, ReNew and Licella launch collaboration

Waste plastic as a fuel? Neste, ReNew and Licella launch collaboration

Square bales of wrapped plastic bottles ready for the melting process.
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Square bales of wrapped plastic bottles ready for the melting process.

A group of chemicals, recycling and technology companies have announced a joint effort to explore using mixed plastic waste as a raw material for fuels, chemicals and new plastics.

The collaboration, announced Aug. 16, will see oil refining and chemicals specialist Neste team up with U.K. recycling firm ReNew ELP and Australian technology developer Licella to develop new industrial and commercial uses for mixed plastic waste.

In addition to studying the feasibility and sustainability of using liquefied waste plastic as a refinery raw material, the three companies also seek regulatory acceptance for new chemical recycling processes.

The collaboration forms part of Neste's ambition to introduce liquefied waste plastic as a future alternative raw material to fossil fuel refining. The renewable diesel manufacturer is targeting the production of more than 1 million tonnes of waste plastic each year for this purpose by 2030.

Matti Lehmus, executive VP of Neste's oil products business, said he believed the collaboration could accelerate commercialization of waste plastic-based products. "Neste has a strong legacy in refining, as well as raw material and pretreatment research, but we still need development of technologies, value chains and supporting legislation for plastic waste-based products to become a reality at industrial scale," he said.

Separately, Neste is also working with retailer IKEA to develop durable and recyclable plastics made from bio-based materials such as waste fats and oil, with a view to launching commercial scale production for the first time later this year.

U.K. recycler ReNew ELP, meanwhile, is constructing a new chemical recycling plant in Teesside designed to recycle end-of-life plastic into a raw material for a range of petrochemical products.

The plant is being developed by Licella, and although it is not included in the wider collaboration project with Neste, it will "nevertheless contribute to a common goal of enabling more efficient waste plastic utilisation in the future," the firms explained.

Len Humphreys, CEO of Licella Holdings, said he was "excited" by both the new ReNew facility and the wider collaboration involving Neste as important means of meeting the "significant challenge of end-of-life plastic."

"The collaboration with Neste and ReNew ELP will help to create markets for recycled carbon fuels and chemicals at a critical time as Europe pushes towards a circular economy," he said.

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