All household plastics could be recycled following the development of technology by the University of Warwick.
Researchers said that only 12% of household plastics are currently recycled, yet this could reach 100% using pyrolysis in a fluidised bed reactor.
Tests have shown that researchers are able to shovel in a range of mixed plastics, which can then be reduced down into products and retrieved through distillation. The products include a wax that can be used as a lubricant, original monomers such as styrene that can be used to make new polystyrene, terephthallic acid that can be used in PET products, and more.
University of Warwick engineering professor Jan Baeyens said: “We envisage a typical large-scale plant having an average capacity of 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste a year. In a year, tankers would take away from each plant more than £5m-worth of recycled chemicals and each plant would save £500,000 a year in landfill taxes alone.
“As the expected energy costs for each large plant would be in the region of only £50,000 a year, the system will be commercially attractive and give a rapid payback on capital and running costs.”
The engineers are now working with the University of Warwick’s technology transfer arm Warwick Ventures, and is looking to work with local authorities and waste management companies.