Honeywell, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced the formation of a second joint venture to deploy its UpCycle process technology to chemically recycle end-of-life plastics into polymer feedstocks that can be used to produce new plastics. The company is partnering with Houston-based Avangard Innovative to build a state-of-the-art recycling plant in Waller, Texas.
In November 2021, Honeywell announced its partnership with Sacyr, a global engineering and services company headquartered in Madrid with operations in more than 20 countries around the world. The joint venture between Honeywell and Sacyr is planned in Andalusia, in southern Spain. Like Honeywell’s partnership with Avangard, this facility will also be able to process 30,000 metric tons of mixed plastics per year, with production expected to begin in 2023. Carrie Eppelheimer, commercial director at Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions, declines to say what is the system’s expected output will be, adding, “I know we have high yields.”
Avangard Innovative provides waste management and recycling services to businesses and mechanically recycles low density and linear low density polyethylene film in Houston and Waller. It will be the first US company to deploy Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology, with production expected to begin in 2023, according to Honeywell.
“UpCycle process technology expands the types of plastics that can be recycled to include plastic waste that otherwise would not be recycled, enabling Honeywell to play a key role in driving a circular plastics economy,” said Vimal Kapur, President and CEO of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies.
Honeywell says that when its technology is used with mechanical recycling and other chemical recycling processes, along with collection and sorting improvements, it can potentially increase the amount of post-use plastic that can be recycled by 90%.
“Working with Honeywell on a joint advanced recycling plant allows Avangard Innovative to further its mission of preserving and protecting the environment by targeting zero waste to landfill,” said Rick Perez, CEO of Avangard Innovative. “The Honeywell solution uses a modular approach to plant design, allowing simple deployment and installation while striking the right balance between economy of scale and the amount of plastic waste generated locally.”
A marketing story
Eppelheimer says Honeywell has a history of bringing sustainable technologies to market, particularly in the oil and gas and petrochemical markets. This commercialization includes Solstice, low global warming potential hydrofluoroolefin refrigerants, aerosols, solvents and blowing agents, and Ecofining, a process that converts inedible natural oils, animal fats and other raw materials from waste into Honeywell Green Diesel and Honeywell Green Jet Fuel.
She says the company’s Ecofining technology is over a decade old. Similar to what the company does with end-of-life plastics, the process takes what would otherwise be considered waste and converts it into “a viable renewable fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80%. % or more”.
She adds: “This experience has shown us how to involve different parts of the market.”
Honeywell recognizes that waste management and recycling companies will be critical to the successful commercialization of UpCycle process technology, Eppelheimer said. “But we see it needs to go further where we need to partner with them.” This awareness led to the formation of joint ventures with Sacyr and Avangard Innovative.
She says companies like these “bring their expertise on waste variability, waste collection, waste sorting,” while Honeywell includes “molecule conversion, molecule management, contaminant management.” . Honeywell also has existing partnerships with downstream petrochemical partners who will consume the products generated by the process.
“Being able to do this through a joint venture, where we both own and operate [it]we will learn and accelerate industry growth through this approach,” adds Eppelheimer.
The strengths of Avangard Innovative
The Waller plant, which will be about the size of two football fields, is likely the first of the Avangard joint venture. Eppelheimer says Avangard Innovative is looking to expand the technology to all of its factories across the United States. “It also has operations in nine other countries. And in all of those cases, it complements their existing mechanical recycling infrastructure,” she says.
Avangard’s customers include consumer packaged goods companies and big-box retailers that generate significant volumes of packaging film. The company brings its knowledge of these materials to the partnership. The joint venture also allows the company to expand the materials it can collect and recycle internally.
Eppelheimer says mechanical recycling has “limitations” that can be solved by chemical recycling, allowing Avangard to increase recycling rates for its customers.
Avangard Innovative currently “effectively and efficiently” recycles LDPE and LLDPE films, she adds. The UpCycle processing technology will allow the company to recycle “low-grade films and packaging, as well as polystyrene materials and other types of materials.”
Perez d’Avangard adds: “Avangard Innovative’s goal is to achieve a waste-free world. Our current mechanical recycling capabilities can take us a long way in the quest for ‘zero waste to landfill’ as there are different types of plastic and other materials that can only be recycled through chemical processes.
“Chemical recycling breaks down materials at the molecular level so that they can be recycled as new materials with high quality and performance properties, which can be used in any application,” he continues. “By adding chemical recycling capabilities to our already industry-leading mechanical recycling, we will increase the amount of waste that can be recycled, diverting up to 90% of waste from landfills and our environment.”
Perez says the joint venture with Honeywell “seemed like a natural and powerful partnership as we continue to close the loop on our circular economy models. Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology adds tremendous value to our current processes for collecting, sorting and processing and helps us leverage the strength of our supply chain and provide manufacturers with access to more recycled materials.
Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology was created within Honeywell’s Sustainable Technology Solutions (STS) business, part of Honeywell UOP. The company began looking into advanced recycling in 2019, Eppelheimer says, in response to growing demand for increased plastic recycling.
She adds that the company’s 100 years of experience in molecular management meant it could contribute to an overall solution. Its chemical recycling process is based on pyrolysis, which uses heat in the absence of oxygen to break down polymers.
The technology produces 77% less CO2 emissions than incineration or landfilling, she adds, and the resulting product can be used in the production of new plastics at a blending rate of 25%.
Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology is an end-to-end solution, according to Eppleheimer, which includes pretreatment, contaminant management and pyrolysis.
According to the company, its technology produces a “high-quality recycled polymer feedstock” that “requires less hydrotreating or pre-treating, resulting in higher mixing limits and greater production of recycled plastic while displacing fossil raw materials and preventing the conventional handling of waste”.
Given the volume of film Avangard will process with this technology, Eppelheimer says some “minor” modifications may need to be made to the system’s preprocessing design. “But generally speaking, it’s still end-to-end solution pretreatment plus pyrolysis as part of that operation,” she adds.
Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology can handle mixed plastics, although some polymers must be limited.
“Too much PET (polyethylene terephthalate) becomes contamination,” says Eppleheimer. “We can process certain amounts of PET, particularly because of our contaminant management, which we believe sets us apart from other technologies we have seen in the market so far. The same with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC creates chlorine, for example, which is very undesirable in the petrochemical processing industry. We can actually take more PVC up front… than others we see on the market.
She adds that the technology can handle up to 4% PVC and 20% polystyrene.
Eppelheimer says Honeywell’s UpCycle process technology is designed for the best carbon efficiency. “We have created a full line of products for the petchem industry that allows for the most amount of plastic in plastic instead of having co-products that would be like a waxy product or something that gets converted into fuels,” says -she. .
The contaminant management aspect of the technology relates to non-plastics, such as metals, as well as different types of chemicals and additives that might be on packaging and chlorine in PVC, for example. Every aspect of the process has contaminant management, from pre-treatment to pyrolysis to post-pyrolysis, notes Eppelheimer.
She adds that the technology is modular “to enable speed and simplicity of operation, scalability, and consistency of operation.”
Honeywell’s technology also offers lower greenhouse gas emissions than comparable technologies that have been commercialized to date, adds Eppelheimer.
“Chemical recycling is a critical part of the solution” to ending plastic waste in the environment and reducing CO2 emissions globally,” she says. “We are commercializing UpCycle process technology to help realize this vision. sustainable technologies at Honeywell Our designs aim to deliver better plastic-to-plastic yield, manage higher levels of contamination to manage the variation that will naturally exist in the waste, and have not only a modular design, but also be able to provide the services needed for waste management companies to grow in this new emerging industry and do so while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.