New York, NY – Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy are launching the Advanced Recycling Innovator Program (ARIP) as part of a broader Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics Initiative. This program brings together nine innovative technology companies in advanced recycling, including APK AG, Brightmark, Carbios, Enerkem, gr3n, GreenMantra, JEPLAN, Plastic Energy, and PureCycle Technologies. Closed Loop Partners is working with these companies and a network of industry and non-profit stakeholders to further analyze the environmental and human health impacts of advanced recycling processes and identify investable opportunities along the supply chain to scale safe and circular technologies that address plastic waste.
With only 9% of the world’s plastics currently recycled and demand for plastics expected to triple by 2050, there is an urgent need to address the growing global plastics crisis. Today, the majority of plastics end up in a landfill, or worse, our oceans and the natural environment. Yet, they represent valuable materials and therefore a missed opportunity. Demand for recycled plastics is expected to grow by 5.5x in the next five years, as many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies have made public commitments to use recycled content in their products and packaging. But, supply is lagging. A diverse suite of solutions will need to be mobilized to address the plastics crisis and keep valuable materials in circulation, benefiting people, the planet and business.
Advanced plastic recycling technologies, also known as “chemical recycling”, refers to a diversity of processes and technologies that transform waste plastics into new materials. Some of these break down plastics into their original building blocks, which can then be re-incorporated into manufacturing supply chains without diminished quality. Other technologies purify the plastics to virgin quality or modify the plastic to create specialty polymers and waxes. In 2019, Closed Loop Partners released a seminal report on the current landscape of these technologies, and are now launching ARIP as part of the next phase of research and exploration of safe and circular solutions to the plastic waste crisis. The technology companies represented in ARIP utilize one of three advanced recycling processes: decomposition, conversion or purification. Through these processes, plastics that were previously considered low value and hard-to-recycle mechanically can now be transformed into valuable novel products or building blocks to make new products or packaging, including food grade recycled content. When successfully scaled, these processes can uniquely complement mechanical recycling, ensuring that there is a market for the entire spectrum of recycled plastics to get a second, third, fourth or even infinite lease on life.
To further evaluate the potential of advanced recycling technologies, Closed Loop Partners has convened a group of brands, retailers, financial institutions and investors, petrochemical industry trade associations, plastic producers, and environmental NGO experts to engage with ARIP to learn more about the environmental and human health impacts of these technologies, as well as the current policy and investment landscape. As with any emerging technologies, thorough cross-industry analysis is essential to identify safe, efficient and scalable solutions.
Advanced recycling represents just one tool in the toolbox for addressing the global plastics challenge. A multi-faceted approach to reducing plastic waste is critical, from exploring innovative alternative materials to deploying reuse business models. What’s clear is that now is the time for progress. With mounting global plastic waste and increasing demand for recycled content, there is no better moment to collaborate, test, and scale safe and circular advanced recycling technologies that can play an important role in building a waste-free future.
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