Mura Technology has today opened the world’s first commercial-scale HydroPRS™ advanced plastic recycling plant in Teesside, UK, to key representatives from the advanced recycling and plastic manufacturing value chains.
The region’s local Mayor, Ben Houchen, was also in attendance and delivered a speech to the audience, highlighting the positive impact of the new site on the local economy and workforce.
The event marks the beginning of commissioning, with the first recycled hydrocarbon products1 expected to be delivered to Mura’s offtake partners in early 2024. Key figures from the plastics industry in attendance include Marco ten Bruggencate, Dow’s Commercial VP for EMEA and the President of industry body Plastics Europe, Benny Mermans, Vice President of Sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and Jinsuk Kim, Managing Director of LG Chem Europe. Doug Kelly, Vice President of Technology at KBR, Mura’s License and Engineering Partner, also attended, alongside Dr Paul Davidson, Director of UK Research & Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK. The plant is one of the SSPP Challenge’s Large-scale Demonstrator projects and was awarded £4.42m funding in 2020.
The purpose-built ReNew ELP facility at the Wilton International industrial site will process flexible and rigid mixed plastics, including films, that are currently considered ‘unrecyclable’. The HydroPRS™ process complements mechanical recycling and enables a circular plastics economy through the production of recycled plastic feedstock for the manufacture of new plastic. The site has capacity to produce circa 20ktpa of recycled liquid hydrocarbon products, with scope to expand production capacity to over three times this initial size. The site will provide up to 50 direct jobs, having created approximately 150 jobs during the build and commissioning phases, and approximately 100 further jobs2 within related infrastructure to support operations.
“Today’s opening of our first-of-its-kind, next generation recycling facility is a groundbreaking achievement and the culmination of four years of dedication. “Our HydroPRS™ process is unlocking a new market for plastic waste, creating value and keeping both plastic and carbon in circularity. The technology works alongside existing mechanical recycling to ensure no plastic types are considered ‘unrecyclable’ and require incineration or landfilling.
“With support from our partners, the Teesside site will be the first in Mura’s global roll-out, helping in the fight against the plastic pollution and global warming crises and acting as a launchpad for the 1,000,000 tonnes of annual recycling capacity that Mura plans to have in operation and development in this decade.”Dr Steve Mahon, Mura Technology’s CEO
The HydroPRS™ process, unlike pyrolysis, utilises supercritical water (water under high pressure and high temperature) to recycle post-consumer, multi-layered, flexible and rigid plastics. By providing a route to recycling for these materials, Mura Technology say they are creating a complementary process to sit alongside traditional mechanical recycling, as highlighted in a recent technical report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC)3. Independent Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) based on the first site at Teesside have shown the process provides an 80% carbon emissions saving by diverting ‘unrecyclable’ plastic away from incineration.
Mura has been supported by investment from blue-chip companies across the plastic recycling value chain including KBR, Dow, CPChem, LG Chem and igus GmbH, alongside funding from UK Research & Innovation’s SSPP Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK, and the Government’s Future Fund. These partnerships have enabled Mura to begin scaling worldwide, with plans in development for sites in the USA and at Dow’s Böhlen site in Germany. Alongside these investments, the company has secured partnerships with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, LG Chem and GS Caltex Corporation for the development of HydroPRS™ facilities under licence in Japan and South Korea.
“We are delighted to be part-funding ReNew ELP and Mura Technology’s world-first supercritical water-based plastics recycling process. The Wilton HydroPRS™ plant positions the UK at the forefront of advanced chemical recycling, and the involvement of major international partners opens up exciting new global opportunities to improve the circularity of plastic packaging in the future.”SSPP Challenge Director Dr Paul Davidson
- A hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon.
- Based on analysis conducted by CEBR on behalf of Engineering UK in The Contribution of Engineering to the UK Economy – Multiplier Impacts (2015)
- The LCA report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre