Canada-based Enerkem Inc., a producer of low-carbon intensity biofuels and circular chemicals from waste materials, and Nova Chemicals Corp. are taking their joint venture chemical recycling project a step further.
The companies entered an agreement in 2020 to explore the possibilities for turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene. They have now announced that they will start construction on a pilot-scale reactor system that converts syngas derived from waste plastics into feedstocks that will be used to produce virgin-grade plastics.
In this latest funding round, Enerkem raised a total of C$255 million (US$202 million) of which C$4.5 million (US$3.5 million) was provided by Alberta Innovates through its Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (“TIER”) Economic Recovery Program. Spain-based Repsol also made a substantial contribution).
The project combines the gasification expertise of Enerkem, a world-leading waste to renewable fuels and chemicals producer, and Nova Chemicals’ petrochemicals and plastic manufacturing experience. The aim is to position Alberta as a leader in the development of a circular economy by diverting waste from landfills, creating value-added products, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Calculations show that successful implementation of this technology in Alberta could reduce local CO2 emissions by approximately 165,000 metric tons of carbon waste per year, while also diverting 230,000 tonnes of waste (including over 100,000 tonnes of mixed plastic waste) per year from landfills.
Currently, less than 10 percent of waste plastics are recycled rate in Canada. Consumer surveys carried out by Nova Chemicals have shown that consumers value products with sustainable packaging and are willing to purchase these.
“The project aims to expand the types of materials that can be recycled and increase recycling rates while reducing emissions from incineration and landfill and keeping plastic out of the environment,” said Michel Chornet, executive vice president, engineering, innovation and operations at Enerkem.
Nova has a bold ambition to create a plastics circular economy and work to design a low carbon, zero plastic waste future, added Greg DeKunder, vice president of polyethylene marketing at Nova Chemicals.
Advanced recycling technologies are a game-changing component of enabling a circular economy and achieving zero plastic waste in the environment, he said.