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Anellotech secures Japanese funding to develop "Plas-TCat" recycling tech

Many plastic packaging materials are unable to be recycled and are instead thrown away after a single-use, often landfilled, incinerated, or littered, polluting land and oceans. US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech Inc. has announced that R Plus Japan Ltd., a new joint venture company, will invest an undisclosed amount in the development of Anellotech’s cutting-edge "Plas-TCat" technology for recycling post-consumer single-use plastics (SUP).

The Minato waste to energy plant, one 21 WTE facilities in Tokyo operated and managed by Clean Authority of Tokyo.

The Minato waste to energy plant, one 21 WTE facilities in Tokyo operated and managed by Clean Authority of Tokyo.

R Plus Japan was recently established by 12 cross-industry partners within the Japanese plastics supply chain. Member partners include Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Ltd (SME), a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Ltd, TOYOBO Co. Ltd, Rengo Co. Ltd, Toyo Seikan Group Holdings Ltd, J&T Recycling Corporation, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd, Iwatani Corporation, Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, Toppan Printing Co. Ltd, Fuji Seal International Inc., Hokkaican Co. Ltd, and Yoshino Kogyosho Co. Ltd.

With the engagement of various industries throughout the value chain, from raw materials manufacturers, and packaging suppliers to beverage companies, the newly established R Plus Japan, together with Anellotech, will advance the development and commercialization of eco-efficient plastic recycling technology by 2027.

The significance of chemical recycling is its ability to transform and convert plastic waste into its original chemical components, to eventually produce new plastics. Turning used plastic into secondary, raw materials enables the sustainable use of resources for various industries across the plastics supply chain. Through the development of this innovative technology, we hope to contribute to solving the global plastic waste issue, which has long been a challenge due to its difficulties in recycling. We’re very excited to work with our industry partners to move this important work forward, said Tsunehiko Yokoi, CEO of R Plus Japan.

Single-step thermocatalytic process

Unlike the existing multi-step processes which first liquefy plastic waste back into low value “synthetic oil” intermediate products, Anellotech’s Plas-TCat chemical recycling technology uses a one-step thermal-catalytic process to convert single-use plastics directly into basic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylenes (BTX), ethylene, and propylene, which can then be used to make new plastics.

According to Anellotech, technology’s process efficiency has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy consumption. Once utilized across the industry, this technology will be able to more efficiently recycle single-use plastic, one of the world’s most urgent challenges.

Anellotech is expanding its program with “Plas-TCat”, a new process technology aiming to convert a wide range of plastic waste directly into chemicals – which can then be used to make new, virgin plastics (graphic courtesy Anellotech).

Suntory began collaborating with Anellotech in 2012, to develop the Bio-TCat process for making aromatics, including paraxylene, from non-food biomass (pine wood), required to make 100 percent plant-based PET bottles.

Anellotech is leveraging and adapting its process technology for Plas-TCat, which will convert mixed plastic waste feedstocks, including composite films and other difficult-to-recycle materials, at industrial scale into the same basic chemicals (aromatics and olefins) already used to make most virgin plastics, including PET.

We believe this initiative by Anellotech and R Plus Japan, combining enabling Plas-TCat chemical recycling technology with the concerted efforts of committed supply chain players, illustrates the best model to aggregate and apply the required resources in amelioration of the problem of plastic waste. Plas-TCat’s unique ability to directly produce basic chemicals (used today to make most virgin plastics) from mixed plastics waste, at large scale, represents an economically viable and impactful solution to the plastic waste problem. We are excited by the opportunities ahead and look forward to collaboration with R Plus Japan in tackling this challenge, said Dave Sudolsky, CEO of Anellotech.

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