Plastics Technology

OCT 2018

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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early stages of developing a chemical technology to upcycle waste plastic into virgin-quality PET. From March to September of 2014, they worked out of Solomita's garage, perfecting the technology and developing its commercial potential. The result was the launch of Loop Industries in 2015. Loop has since moved from the garage into an industrial pilot plant north of Montreal, with about 30 employees. The pilot plant was built to optimize and demonstrate Loop's proprietary depolymerization technology in continuous operation, in prepara- tion for the company's ramp-up to large-scale commercialization. In its process, waste PET and polyester of all types, shapes and colors is brought to the company's facility from sources like old t-shirts, fabrics, water bottles and food trays. Through the company's depolymeriza- tion technology, the feedstock is completely broken down into its monomers: dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and mono- ethylene glycol (MEG)—without adding heat or pressure. The monomers are then purified, removing all coloring, additives, and organic or inorganic impurities. From there, the DMT and MEG are repolymerized into Loop- branded PET that meets FDA requirements for use in food-grade packaging. Loop-branded polyester resin allows consumer-goods companies to meet and exceed their stated sustainability goals and circular ambitions, the company says. This past summer, Loop announced the next generation of its upcycling technology. Loop's Generation II technology is signifi- cantly more streamlined and efficient than the Generation I process, including a considerable reduction in energy use and the complete elimination of water. The most significant change introduced in the Generation II technology is Loop's decision to produce a monomer from DMT rather than terephthalic acid (PTA). Nelson Switzer, the former chief sustainability officer for Nestle Waters North America, who joined Loop Industries this year, says this move eliminates steps Like so many technology start-ups, it began with a vision and in a garage. Three years later, Loop Industries' vision of turning post- consumer PET into virgin-quality material as a result of tech- nology developed in that garage has become reality. The firm's proprietary "upcycling" pro- cess breaks waste PET down to its chemical building blocks, separating out any impurities such as dyes, addi- tives, and foodstuffs. These building blocks are then combined to create virgin-quality PET that can be used in food-grade plastic packaging. Daniel Solomita, founder and CEO of Loop (loopindustries.com), was working on a landfill reclamation project in South Carolina, recovering tens of thousands of tons of waste plastic that had been abandoned years before. While taking steps to market the recovered material for recycling, he met a chemist in Quebec who was in the By Heather Caliendo Senior Editor Through the company's depolymerization technology, waste PET is completely broken down into its monomers, dimethyl terephthalate (left) and mono- ethylene glycol (MEG), without adding heat or pressure. Process 'Upcycles' Waste Plastics To Virgin-Quality PET Depolymerization technology developed by Loop Industries aims to repurpose scrap PET of all types. "The sheer number of inbound calls we continue to receive is exciting and a testa- ment to the demand for upcycled plastic by consumers and companies alike." 22 OCTOBER 2018 Plastics Technology PTonline.com R E C YC L I N G Close -Up On Technolog y

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