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ARC Meeting Puts Advanced Recycling Front and Center

The debut Advanced Recycling Conference drew hundreds of attendees, all looking beyond mechanical recycling for post-consumer plastics.

December 7, 2022

2 Min Read
Image courtesy of ARC

The Advanced Recycling Conference (ARC), held for the first time in November 2022, addressed the intense interest in advanced recycling within the chemicals and plastics industries, with attention to stakeholder learning and interaction.

In all, 230 attendees from 21 countries gathered in Cologne, Germany, for ARC 2022. They included representatives from the petrochemicals, materials, and recycling industries, as well as equipment, technology, and service providers. Brands owners, investors, and specialists from academia, research institutes, and industry associations also attended.

During the two-day conference, attendees explored advanced recycling opportunities and swapped success stories. ARC’s speakers addressed technologies, sustainability, policy/regulation, cooperation, financing, and digitalization for materials traceability. The conference program included seven panel discussions.

The advanced recycling methods under scrutiny included dissolution, enzymolysis, gasification, pyrolysis, solvolysis, and thermal depolymerization — illustrating the varied menu of advanced recycling solutions currently in development or commercially available.

ARC’s conference program also looked at waste such as packaging, textiles, composites, and rubber, highlighting where advanced recycling — alone or as a complement to conventional mechanical recycling — can play a role.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) advanced recycling was a special focus of the event. PET is included in many waste streams, each with its own recycling requirements; thus, PET waste streams and PET recycling technologies are quite diverse.

Discussions centered on depolymerizing PET into building blocks for remanufacturing. Of particular interest were chemical recycling techniques for PET, such as solvolysis, which uses solvents or other chemicals to initiate alcoholysis or hydrolysis.

Enzymatic recycling, in which enzymes break PET into its building blocks, was presented as an alternative to methanol/glycol-enabled solvolysis.

Attendees also learned about new, high throughput twin-screw extruders, which can act as a reactor for PET chemical recycling or perform pre-and post-treatment processes.

In addition, exhibitors presented their advanced recycling services, strategies, and technologies. ARC’s exhibitors included BASF; Alfa Laval; and Aimplas, a plastics technology center that works with supply chain participants ranging from raw material manufacturers to plastic processors and end users. Erema Group demonstrated plastic recycling equipment and its proprietary system components. 

The next Advanced Recycling Conference is scheduled for November 28-29, 2023.

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