Over the last few years there has been a boom in focus and development of pyrolysis technology. Numererous companies are planning to deliver material recycling solutions of plastics based on pyrolysis with great yields at low costs. Can these companies keep their promises, is pyrolysis really the catch-all solution it is marketed as? An important aspect of a project awarded Norwaste by the Norwegian Retailers' Environment fund is the evalution of the technologies, raw-materials requirements and products touted by these companies. Then there is the question of wether the European Commission will classify pyrolysis-based processes as material recycling. In this project for the Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund, Norwaste will evaluate the applicability of pyrolysis technology for material recycling of mixed plastics.
Today there are two major sorting plants for household waste in Norway; in Stavanger/Sandnes (IVAR) and Romerike (ROAF). More are on the way amongst others in Fredrikstad (ØAS) and Trøndelag (Sesam).
In these plants plastic is sorted into clean, concentrated plastic material fractions based on polymer type, like polypropylen and polyetylen in preparation for mechanical recycling of these materials into granules and flakes. Clean plastic material fractions are today in themselves a resource frequently traded on the open marked. However to produce a clean and concentrated fraction it is necessary to sort out a significant fraction of material of unknown or unwanted compositions. This necessary quality controll results in the production of a large fraction of mixed plastics..
Today this material which makes up for a singificant part of the plastic waste sorted out from households ends up in the incinerator for energy recycling in the best case. Historically these materials have also tended to end up in landfills or even worse, at dump sites, as they are technically and therefore economically challenging to recycle to say the least. If these mixed materials could be recycled with pyrolysis this would be a major advance in closing the circular plastic economy.
The project, a collaboration between Norwaste, ROAF - Romerike Waste Processing, IVAR and Plastic REVolution Foundation (PRF) - aims to evaluate if mixed plastics materials from automatic municipal waste sorting facilities and other similar plastic materials in Norway may be material recycled through pyrolysis. Various mixed plastic materials will be extracted and analysed in order to evaluate for use in different available pyrolysis processes and their quality criterias. We will evaluate other plastic materials and available cleaning solutions as a pretreatment prior to pyrolysis. The goal of the project is to lay a foundation for increased material recycling of mixed plastic wastes.