DALLAS — Plastics-to-oil technologies should not be considered a competition to traditional plastic recycling, according to people who make a living in that field.
Cynar plc, RES Polyflow and Agilyx Corp. are three firms that are on the forefront of the plastics-to-oil industry, and representatives of all three agree that their companies look to complement existing recycling infrastructure, not replace what's already firmly established.
“We're not competing for plastic bottles, things that are readily going to the recycling stream,” said Laura Deeks, environmental manager for London-based Cynar. “We're really trying to pick up whatever is left over and what would otherwise be landfilled or dumped or incinerated.
“So, I think, in that sense, we're not competing in the same market,” she said during a panel discussion at the recent Plastics Recycling 2015 conference in Dallas.
“The reality is there's a lot of plastic out there that needs responsible end-of-life management. And I think these technologies really are for that plastic,” she said. “I would hope that recyclers see us as complementary. We certainly see ourselves as complementary to the recycling industry.”
Todd Pendexter is business development manager for Beaverton, Ore.-based Agilyx, and says the economics of traditional plastic recycling is much different than the plastics-to-oil business.
“I don't feel we compete at all. I think we enhance the recycling companies' business,” he said.
That's because companies like Agylix can provide an outlet for certain types of plastics that traditional recyclers have to accept from their customers but find difficult to manage.
“We really need to acquire our feedstock at a very low cost,” Pendexter said.
That means plastics-to-oil firms often look to divert those hard-to-recycle plastics that would otherwise head to the landfill instead of targeting the higher value materials that traditionally get recycled.
“We take something that nobody wants ... low value plastic and make something everybody needs, ultra-low sulfur diesel,” said Michael Dungan, director of sales and marketing for Akron, Ohio-based RES Polyflow.