Twelve Japanese companies are working with Anellotech Inc. in a joint venture to invest in chemical recycling technology.
The new R Plus Japan Ltd. will provide financial backing for the further advancement of Pearl River, N.Y.-based Anellotech's Plas-TCat technology for recycling used plastics, with a target for commercialization in 2027.
In Japan, most plastics beyond PET bottles end up being incinerated. The new company aims to help chemical recycling, which will create a more circular system.
Plas-TCat 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. These can then be used to make new plastics, rather than a lower-value synthetic oil.
"[This] unique ability to directly produce basic chemicals ... from mixed plastics waste, at large scale, represents an economically viable and impactful solution to the plastic waste problem,", Anellotech CEO Dave Sudolsky said in a news release. Once utilized across the industry, this technology will be able to more efficiently recycle single-use plastic.
The process builds on previously developed technology by Anellotech, working in collaboration with Suntory since 2012 and with Toyobo since 2017, called Bio-TCat. That program was focused on making aromatics, including paraxylene, from non-food bio-based sources that could go into food-grade PET.
Plas-TCat will convert mixed plastic waste, including composite films and other difficult-to-recycle materials, at industrial scale into the same basic chemicals already used to make most virgin plastics.
"The significance of chemical recycling is its ability to transform and convert plastic waste into its original chemical components, to eventually produce new plastics," said Tsunehiko Yokoi, CEO of R Plus Japan. "Turning used plastic into secondary, raw materials enables the sustainable use of resources for various industries across the plastics supply chain."
Members of R Plus are Suntory Monozukuri Expert Ltd., Toyobo Co. Ltd., Rengo Co. Ltd., Toyo Seikan Group Holdings Ltd., J&T Recycling Corp,, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Iwatani Corp., Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd., Toppan Printing Co. Ltd., Fuji Seal International Inc., Hokkaican Co. Ltd. and Yoshino Kogyosho Co. Ltd.
The group is seeking additional investors.