NOVA Chemicals Corporation and Enerkem Inc. are advancing their versatile and energy efficient chemical recycling technology to pilot stage in Edmonton, Alberta, thanks in part to $4.5 million in funding from from Alberta Innovates.

The funding, provided through Alberta Innovates’ Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (“TIER”) Economic Recovery Program has enabled the companies to expedite construction of a pilot-scale reactor system that converts syngas produced from used, non-recyclable and non-compostable plastics to feedstocks for virgin-grade plastics.

The team – which includes experts from leading chemicals and plastic resins producer, NOVA Chemicals – has been working to achieve lower greenhouse gas emissions while significantly accelerating the upgrading process for waste materials.

“By taking waste streams that are otherwise non-recyclable, we can complement mechanical recycling efforts and provide an important solution to close the gap between recycling targets and the important role plastics play in our daily lives,” said Michel Chornet, executive vice president of engineering, innovation and operations at Enerkem. “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. It is a significant step in realizing the vision of the circular economy.”

The project leverages the gasification expertise of Enerkem, a leading waste to renewable fuels and chemicals producer, and NOVA Chemicals’ petrochemicals and plastic manufacturing experience to position Alberta as a world leader in the development of a circular economy by diverting waste from landfills, creating value-added products, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“NOVA has a bold ambition to create a plastics circular economy and work to design a low carbon, zero plastic waste future,” said Greg DeKunder, VP 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. This joint initiative with Enerkem further demonstrates that industry collaboration will be key to providing economically viable solutions for sustainable, circular plastic production.”

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Nova Chemicals, Enerkem partner on advanced recycling technology for plastics - Recycling Today

A plastics circular economy transforms the lifecycle of plastics, helping to eliminate plastic waste and minimize new resource use.

NOVA Chemicals’ consumer survey research indicates that consumers are placing renewed value on purchasing products with sustainable packaging.

The successful implementation of this technology in Alberta alone could result in reduction of local COemissions by approximately 165,000 tCO2e per year, while also diverting 230,000 tonnes of waste (including over 100,000 tonnes of mixed plastic waste) per year from landfills.

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