Enespa AG of Appenzel, Switzerland, and Germany's Biofabrik Technologies will build what they claim will be one of the biggest — if not the biggest — chemical recycling facilities in the world.
The two companies have joined forces to use a technology designed to thermally process mixed plastic waste into paraffin oil and gas. Biofabrik will be the technology provider and Enespa will finance and operate the plant.
Enespa is raising capital for the project, in part, through the issuance of "green" bonds, which are available for purchase by individuals and institutions from Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein starting at 1,000 euros ($1,188). The annual distribution is 4.5 percent annually for four years, after which the capital will be repaid.
A key feature of the project is the modular structure of the new installation. Instead of one large plant, it will consist of numerous WASTX P units, the containerized, fully-automated units designed and built by Biofabrik.
The first pilot module with a capacity of 250 kilograms per day was delivered in August 2020 and production of the recycling modules has now started. Testing that started in January shows a continuous-feed WASTX Plastic P 1000 unit is capable of converting up to 1,000 kilograms of plastic waste into 1,000 liters of pyrolysis oil per day.
According to the partners, the goal is to commission a plant consisting of five modules in the first half of 2021 and then, taking advantage of the modular concept, to gradually expand capacity. Five modules with a processing capacity of 5,000 kilograms per day form a unit.
"With the operation of 40 units, an economic optimum is then achieved," Ensepa CEO Cyrill Hugi said.
Next to being almost infinitely scalable, the concept also has the advantage of being better equipped against system failure, officials with the companies said. If one module goes down, the others keep processing.
This first plant, located near Dresden, will ultimately process up to 60,000 metric tons of plastic waste per year.
And, as Hugi points out: "Everybody can participate. Do something for the future of your kids. Do something for yourself. Invest in plastic recycling."