Quantafuel helps build a circular economy for plastic that increases resource utilisation and reduces emissions. We rescue low-value waste from its final stop at the incineration plant and put it back into a cycle where it becomes new products. Our energy efficient process upgrades mixed waste to feedstock for new plastic of virgin quality that can be in contact with food. This is an example of upcycling, where existing materials and resources are transformed into products of greater quality.
Quantafuel’s business model is green to the core. This does not mean we can rest on our laurels. We are working hard to continually improve our sustainability profile. Our future plants will be built according to the highest sustainability standards, and our goal is to ensure that our own production is climate neutral and waste-free.
To push up recycling rates, we need new technology that can process a larger share of plastic waste. Quantafuel will increase the material recycling share by adding chemical recycling to the toolbox of technologies, and by combining chemical and mechanical technologies in new ways. So what is chemical recycling?
Chemical material recycling
While mechanical recycling typically requires clean fractions of one plastic type, our chemical recycling process can handle soiled, mixed plastic. The process breaks down the plastic waste to its smallest constituents, which makes it possible to create a number of products which meet the highest safety standards. Our process is flexible: We can accept many more mixed plastic fractions and extract many more products.
The alternative to Quantafuel’s chemical material recycling of plastic waste is to burn the plastic in an incineration plant. Up until recently, this is precisely what has happened to the majority of Europe’s plastic in large incineration plants overseas. On 1 January 2018 China introduced its “National Sword” strategy, which blocks imports of plastic waste, which in turn prevents the incineration of plastic. The consequence is a build-up of plastic waste that no one knows what to do with.
Quantafuel’s chemical material recycling of plastic waste makes a contribution in three key areas:
1. Circular economy
We recycle oil that already has been produced. The alternative is to extract more oil. By replacing fossil oil and gas with recycled raw material, we achieve a sustainable circular economy where waste is elevated to a resource.
2. CO2 reduction
Recent studies show that chemical recycling of plastic waste displaces oil demand and reduces the carbon footprint by more than 50% compared to incineration. We save CO2 both because our process has lower emissions than incineration, and because we avoid the extraction of new oil. If we were to produce recycled carbon fuel, an LCA for Quantafuel show a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions.
What do we get from a ton of plastic waste?
- Around 100 kilograms becomes an ash component that may be sent for incineration for district heating or to replace fossil alternatives in the production of cement.
- Around 100 kilograms is extracted as natural gas (methane/propane). This is used to power the factory. In fact, we have surplus energy after using it.
- Around 800 kilograms becomes liquid product. A litre of this weighs less than a kilogram, so we end up with slightly more than 1,000 litres of product. This is an extremely efficient process.
3. Upgrading to high-grade products
At Quantafuel we take mixed, contaminated low-grade waste and upgrade it to a high-grade product. We can take plastic from the bottom of the value chain and transform it to products at the top of the value chain. comply with all safety requirements, and our product may even be used to package food and medication. This makes Quantafuel unique among recycling companies.
Upcycling is the highest form of recycling, both in commercial and sustainability terms. The benefit of chemical recycling is that we take mixed, soiled waste and break these hydrocarbons down to their respective constituents and rebuild them in accordance with all requirements.
The EU imposes strict requirements
Recycling targets drive innovation. In Europe, things are changing quickly as the EU is implementing a series of measures that increases the need for Quantafuel’s solutions.
- In the course of five years, Europe shall have a recycling rate of 50% for plastic, increasing to 55% in 2030. According to several estimates, the current rate is as low as 10-20%. In order to achieve this, we must invest in chemical material recycling. Norway produces around 650,000 tons of plastic waste a year, of which 40-50,000 tons are mechanically recycled, and we shall continue to do so (plastic bottles, for example). Some types of plastic are difficult to recycle, such as cellphones, cameras, PCs and so on that are difficult to extract plastic from. However, there is around 300,000 tons that can be processed chemically, which may even be soiled by food waste, oil residues, etc.: such as food packaging – perfect for Quantafuel!
- The EU is introducing a 0.80 EUR/kg tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste from 2021. This will promote the development of circular plastic solutions.
- The EU has stated that recycled carbon fuels will be a part of the climate solution in the transport sector. This means that the recycling of oil and gas (which is what we do) is on an equal footing with biofuels. Europe has stated that we must move away from palm oil, we must move away from biofuels that compete with food production – and we must move to waste. Waste that is plastic or biomass.