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Nova Chemicals and Enerkem collaborate to close the loop on plastics recycling

The two Canadian firms are teaming up to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste – including items made from #3-7 plastics – into ethylene at full commercial scale.


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May 11, 2020 by Canadian Plastics

Nova Chemicals Corp. is partnering with Montreal-based cleantech company Enerkem Inc. to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste – including items made from #3-7 plastics – into ethylene, a basic building block of plastics.

The two Canadian companies have entered into a joint development agreement to work together to research advanced recycling technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, including items such as plastics, household waste, and construction materials, into ethylene at full commercial scale. Ethylene, produced from waste, would advance a plastics circular economy and help meet consumer brand goals for recycled content in packaging.

“Advanced recycling technologies are a necessary component of moving to zero plastic waste by creating valuable new feedstocks from post-use plastics that cannot be easily mechanically recycled,” Calgary-based Nova said in a May 11 press release. “The quality of polymers produced with advanced recycling products is indistinguishable from those made from 100 per cent virgin, fossil-based feedstocks.”

“We are excited to work with Enerkem to create innovative, sustainable solutions for a plastics circular economy,” Nova’s president and CEO Todd Karran said in the statement. “Our R&D teams will collaborate to develop game changing technology to push the boundaries for recycling waste to create new feedstocks and bring value to the environment, economy and society.”

Enerkem is said to the first company in the world to produce renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste at full commercial scale. Its current technologies replace the use of fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas to produce sustainable transportation fuels and chemicals that are used in a broad range of everyday products.

“We are delighted to team up with NOVA Chemicals to collaborate on new technology for waste-to-ethylene feedstock to solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,” said Dominique Boies, Enerkem’s CEO and CFO. “This strategic partnership will allow us to explore the development of new products and expand our offering in pursuit of the circular economy.”