A large threat to ocean life is plastic waste, which humans are solely responsible for putting there. As a plastics company, igus® has a responsibility in ensuring that suitable investment is made into the issues surrounding environmental policies.
Worldwide, igus® has already addressed and accomplished many environmental concerns but, as a reusable plastics company, the products and the manufacturing processes that are implemented are greener than many of the alternative options. It is also important to remember that igus® does not manufacture single-use plastics, the engineering components made by igus® are used for thousands or millions of times and are all 100% recyclable.
But more can be done.
igus® supports the circular economy of plastics
At the start of 2020, igus® invested four million pounds into Mura Technology Limited, specifically for the construction of the first commercial Cat-HTR plant in the UK. Mura Technology, like most companies, identified the pressing issue with plastic pollution and created a solution that not only addresses the world’s plastic addiction but has created a system which will prevent plastics from entering the ocean.
What is the plan, and how does the process work?
The first phase of the development is to build a total of four Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactors in Teesside in the North of England. These are aiming to process more than 80,000 metric tons of plastic waste every year. Following that, Mura is planning to issue licences all over the world and build more plants, helping restore the balance between the destruction that has been caused and helping to fix the damage.
As it stands, the process is planned to encourage waste companies to supply their plastic waste to the project. This will go towards achieving the companies recycling goals or green incentives. Oil can then be produced at a similar price to traditional oil.
Unfortunately, as with most things, the process is not quite that simple. The problem is that, up until now, most plastic has been incinerated! A pitiful 14 per cent of waste plastic has been recycled.
The introduction to the chemical recycling of Mura Technology Limited offers new solutions to change the way we produce oil, recycle plastic and therefore reducing plastic waste going into the oceans.
The Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor, (Cat-HTR) technology was developed in 2007. With Cat-HTR technology, plastic waste that was previously impossible to recycle can now be converted back into oil within 20 minutes; this is more resource-efficient than the extraction of fossil fuels from the ground. The way the cells within the materials are broken down is by using water, high temperatures and pressure. The cells are separated and joined back together again.
Amazingly, one plant can process 20,000 metric tons of plastic per year, reducing CO2 output by over 28 thousand metric tons. Not only are igus® working with innovative technology to help with plastic pollution, traditional methods of plastic recycling are still in place. igus® offers the “chainge programme”, a system that allows customers to recycle their old plastic cable chains. igus® will accept any cable chain, then weigh, separate, clean and recycle the material, and issue an igus® voucher based on the net weight of the recycled product.
Every small change that is made is a step in the right direction.
It is our individual and collective responsibility to protect and preserve the planet, and with revolutionary technology such as the Cat-HTR technology, it isn’t too late to start to repair the damage caused.
This article was written by Erin Kemal for igus UK. For igus’ full blog archive, click here.