The former head of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association has joined a startup firm that has plastics recycling in its sights.
Mark Badger is the new CEO of Switchable Solutions Inc., a firm formed to commercialize solvent-based technology developed at Queen's University of Kingston, Ontario. Badger left CPIA at the end of March to take on the new position.
The potential is enormous for Switchable Solutions, Badger said in a telephone interview.
Switchable Solutions relies on an environmentally friendly solvent system to dissolve scrap polystyrene and recover it. Unlike conventional solvents, the new system allows PS to be recovered without distillation and the recycling process doesn't need elevated temperatures and pressure.
Badger provided few details of the new solvent system but relevant information was presented in a session of CPIA's Innovation Forum in October by Rui Resendes, executive director of GreenCentre Canada, the parent company of Switchable Solutions.
At the Toronto forum, Resendes said the new solvent system is non-polar and acts like hexane. It is used to dissolve PS at levels of up to 40 percent of the weight of resin in the solvent. Next water is added to create a two-phase system and then carbon dioxide is added to precipitate the PS. Once the PS is recovered, bubbling dry air through the mixture regenerates the solvent. Besides plastics recovery, the technology is promising for oil seed extraction, oil sands processing and other industrial uses.
The technology is proven to be efficient and effective, Badger said. He predicted that commercial trials are only months away.
The new technology could divert 110 million pounds per year of PS from landfills in the province of Ontario alone, according to GreenCentre's website. Badger said polyethylene is the next resin that could be tackled in the new approach.
Switchable Solutions is backed by industry partners. GreenCentre, in Kingston, Ontario, is funded by the governments of Ontario and Canada and operates partly with assistance of industry members to develop and commercialize more sustainable alternatives to traditional chemical products and manufacturing processes.
Mark brings to Switchable Solutions a wealth of experience in strategic planning, product development, finance and marketing, Resendes noted on the center's website.