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Licella and iQ Renew sign MoU with Oji Fibre Solutions in New Zealand

Australia-based iQ Renew and commercial partners Licella Holdings Ltd (Licella), specialists in the physical and chemical recycling of End-of-Life Plastic (ELP), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan-headed pulp, paper and packaging business, Oji Fibre Solutions (OjiFS). By building a Cat-HTR chemical recycling plant to deal with ELP that are not able to be physically recycled, OJIFS is looking at opportunities to complement its paper recycling operations in New Zealand.

According to Licella, its proprietary Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) platform recycles plastic at a chemical level, meaning almost all plastic types can be recycled back into its chemical building blocks (photo courtesy Licella).

Owned by Japan-headed Oji Holdings Corporation, one of the world’s largest forest industry companies and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, the majority of Oji Fibre Solutions (OjiFS) operations are based in New Zealand where it is the country’s leading recycler.

Its “Fullcircle” recycling service collects more than 300 000 tonnes per annum of recovered paper from throughout New Zealand. The company also collects plastic waste – a portion comes from its recovery facilities operated on behalf of local authorities and a portion is separated from the paper at the OjiFS recycling mills.

Recent policies in China and South East Asia have restricted waste imports and require Oji Fibre Solutions to investigate alternative on-shore treatment options, as landfilling is not acceptable to our business, commented Dr Jon Ryder, CEO, Oji Fibre Solutions

Fifty percent single-use plastic

Globally, over half of all plastic ever produced is thrown away after only one use – so-called single-use plastic (SUP). In fact, only 9 percent of all plastics ever produced have been recycled. Traditional physical recycling typically processes only type 1 PET plastic (e.g. soft drink bottles) and type 2 HDPE plastic (e.g. milk bottles).

The challenge is what happens to all the other plastic types, which account for the majority of End-of-Life Plastics (ELP). Chemical recycling closes the plastics recycling loop – giving ELP a new life as a circular resource.

Chemical recycling of ELP

According to Licella, iQ Renew’s Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) platform recycles plastic at a chemical level, meaning almost all plastic types can be recycled and diverted from landfill and incineration. The patented Cat-HTR platform has been developed over 12 years by Licella and is now commercially ready, with iQ Renew having the exclusive licence for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

The Cat-HTR uses supercritical water to chemically transform ELP back to its chemical building blocks, a recycled oil and a sustainable alternative to fossil oil. This Cat-HTR technology is a form of chemical recycling; enabling these chemicals to be used over and over again – for new plastics or as fuels that help reduce waste, not natural resources.

OjiFS to lead New Zealand’s circular economy

The collaboration with iQ Renew and Licella could enhance OjiFS’s position at the forefront of the circular economy in New Zealand by closing the resource recovery loop. By building a Cat-HTR chemical recycling plant to deal with unrecyclable ELP, OJIFS is looking at opportunities to complement its paper recycling operations.

We congratulate and very much look forward to working with Oji Fibre Solutions in building upon their leading role in local recycling, and helping to move New Zealand towards a plastic neutral future, said Danial Gallagher, CEO, iQ Renew.

Once established, the partnership intends to offer the Cat-HTR solution to other producers of ELP in New Zealand.

Global interest

According to Licella, there is “fast-growing global interest” in the Cat-HTR solution, including from governments such as Timor-Leste, and major refiners such as Finnish company Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel.

Outside of ANZ, the Cat-HTR for ELP is being commercialised by Mura Technology Ltd, Licella’s global joint venture with Armstrong Capital. Mura’s first plastics chemical recycling plant is being built in Wilton, UK by ReNew ELP, who have completed a full design and construction package for the plant.

This first commercial Cat-HTR plant will be commissioned in 2020-2021 and process 20 000 tonnes per annum of End-of-Life Plastic.

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