UK Research Consortium Receives Additional £300k for Innovative Plastic Recycling Technology

The University of Birmingham and Stopford Engineering Join Forces to Develop Groundbreaking Chemical Recycling Process
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Key Takeaways

  • Research consortium awarded £300k in additional funding from Innovate UK
  • The novel technology utilizes hot compressed water for recycling plastics
  • Process capable of recycling contaminated and degraded plastics
  • Funding to be used to adapt technology for PET-based plastic waste

New Funding for Plastic Recycling Innovation

A research consortium composed of technologists from the University of Birmingham and engineering firm Stopford has been granted an additional £300,000 in funding from Innovate UK. This funding will support the development of a cutting-edge plastic recycling technology that aims to revolutionize waste management.

Transforming Plastic Waste with Green Chemistry

The innovative technology is a chemical recycling process that employs hot compressed water as a green solvent. This solvent selectively depolymerizes waste plastics into commodity compounds, which can then be processed to produce virgin materials. The University of Birmingham asserts that this process will replace fossil fuel feedstocks and introduce much-needed circularity into plastic waste management.

Recycling Contaminated and Degraded Plastics

One of the significant advantages of this new technology is its ability to recycle contaminated and degraded plastics. The process requires reduced downstream processing, making it more environmentally friendly and efficient.

Adapting the Technology for PET-Based Plastic Waste

The new round of funding, awarded by UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge, will be used to adapt the platform technology for PET-based plastic waste, such as pots, salad trays, and tubs. This complements the team’s ongoing work, also funded by Innovate UK, to establish a demonstrator facility at Birmingham’s Tyseley Energy Park for recycling polyolefin-based plastics like polyethylene and polypropylene, which are commonly used in packaging.

Recycling TechnologyTarget Plastic WasteFunding Source
Current PlatformPolyolefin-basedInnovate UK
New AdaptationPET-basedUKRI’s SSPP Challenge

Dr. Ben Herbert, Technology & Innovation Director at Stopford, said, “I am delighted that our technology has once again been recognised by UKRI’s SSPP Challenge as a ground-breaking recycling technology for the management of waste plastics, and I very much look forward to working with our project partners to expand its application to enable a circular approach to the management of PET-based plastics waste.”

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