Loop Industries Inc. (Montreal) achieved a number of milestones in 2018, which it relived in a Jan. 16, 2019, letter to its shareholders.
The power of Loop’s technology lies in the company’s ability to divert and recover what is currently considered plastic waste from landfills, rivers, oceans and natural areas for use as feedstock to create new, infinitely recyclable Loop PET plastic resin and polyester fiber. Loop’s technology can deliver a cost-effective, virgin-quality PET resin that is cleared for use in food-grade packaging.
For several years the Loop team worked diligently on its Generation I technology, a process that yielded polyethylene terephthalate (PTA) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), two common monomers of PET, through depolymerization. While these monomers were of excellent purity and strong yield, Loop continued to challenge itself to drive down cost and eliminate inputs. It was during this process that the company realized that it could eliminate water and chlorinated solvents from the purification process, reduce the number of reagents from five to two and reduce the number of purification steps from 12 to four “if we shifted from the production of PTA to the production of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), another proven monomer of PET that is far simpler to purify,” said Loop Industries.
In June 2018, Loop Industries successfully completed the transition from Generation I PTA technology to Generation II DMT technology, activating a newly built Generation II industrial pilot plant, which continues to see consistently high monomer yields and excellent purity. The Generation II technology is more cost-effective, easier to commercialize and more economical for customers. Because it requires fewer energy and resource inputs than conventional PET production processes, the company expects Generation II technology to be one of the most environmentally sustainable methods for producing virgin-quality, food-grade PET plastic in the world, said Loop Industries.
The company announced that by bringing Loop PET resin and polyester fiber to market, Loop Industries is “closer to realizing three major streams of revenue: The sale of Loop PET resin and polyester fiber, license fees from Loop’s waste-to-resin (WtR) facilities and development fees from the sale and construction of WtR facilities around the world,” said the company. “In 2018, we secured key partners, completed agreements with global consumer brands, built our brand and continued to secure the feedstock needed to support Loop’s commercial success.”
Turning waste PET plastic and polyester fiber into feedstock through its Generation II depolymerization technology means that Loop can use plastic bottles and packaging of any color, transparency or condition; carpet, clothing and other polyester textiles that may contain colors, dyes or additives; and even ocean plastics that have been degraded by sun and salt. “This is yet another distinct advantage of Loop PET over mechanically recycled PET—our ability to use materials that nearly all other recyclers cannot use,” said Loop’s shareholder letter. “This also means we are creating a new market for materials that have persistently been leaching out of the waste management system and into our shared rivers, oceans and natural areas.”
Loop Industries has already successfully identified the sources required for the company’s first joint venture with Indorama Ventures Ltd. (IVL) and is currently focused on closing supply agreements to secure this feedstock for the long term. The company is also engaged in studying the availability of feedstock to ensure each planned facility can operate continuously. “This allows Loop to identify not only material traditionally available for recycling, but how material can be effectively diverted from landfill, rivers, oceans and natural areas by providing a new outlet for what was formerly considered waste,” said Loop Industries.