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Circular Economy

How One Company is Working to Transform More Plastic Waste into a 21st Century Resource

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Stefanie Steenhuis

Head of Brand and Marketing, Aduro Clean Technologies

Ofer Vicus

Co-founder & CEO, Aduro Clean Technologies 

Aduro Clean Technologies’ novel, next-generation technology turns mixed plastic waste into a valuable resource, and is moving to become a leader in circularity.

Only a fraction of recovered plastics can be mechanically recycled to make new products by blending with virgin plastic derived from petroleum. Plastic waste is in concept a very cheap material, but collecting and sorting it adds significant costs. Its decomposition in nature takes time, making it a problem when dumped into the environment. And even when it does eventually degrade, microscopic plastic particles are released into water, and those find their way into the tissues of aquatic animals.

Photo Credits: David Graham White

Chemical recycling is a way of accelerating the decomposition in a controlled process that also increases the value of the waste. And thanks to a novel, next-generation technology developed by Canadian company Aduro Clean Technologies, chemical recycling gives plastic waste a second life, making its recovery and reuse more affordable and sustainable.

A new way of viewing plastic waste

“Plastic is an integral part of our lives,” says Stefanie Steenhuis, Head of Brand and Marketing at Aduro Clean Technologies. “We cannot live without it — it saves lives in medical applications, keeps our food fresh, and is a part of nearly every industry you can think of. We need to start seeing it as a resource for creating recycled plastic products with the benefit of reducing dependence on petroleum and mitigating the plastic waste issue.”

Originally focused on improving the quality of Alberta bitumen, Aduro has over time extended its technology play into new applications.

We need to start seeing it as a resource for creating recycled plastic products with the benefit of reducing dependence on petroleum and mitigating the plastic waste issue.

“When we founded the company, we didn’t realize how far it could go,” says Ofer Vicus, Aduro Clean Technologies co-founder and CEO. “As we evolved our technology through R&D, we realized we had a core chemical platform technology that could be applied to solve problems differently and more elegantly compared with alternatives. After going to work on renewables, we recognized the possibility to extend our approach for chemical recycling of plastics. And now we’re looking beyond that to handle waste tire rubber.”

A novel technology

The key to Aduro capabilities is its Hydrochemolytic™ Technology (HCT). “‘Hydro’ means water and ‘chemolytic’ refers to the mechanism of deconstructing the large molecules,” explains Vicus.

Aduro has redirected and reconfigured HCT to plastics. Simply put, it transforms large, stubborn molecules of low value into smaller, lighter molecules of higher value. Materials with undesirable characteristics are converted into materials that are more useful, the result being a tremendous uplift in market value.

“You can think of plastic as being made of long molecules that are like pearls on a very, very long string,” says Steenhuis. “What makes our technology so unique is that it cuts these molecular chains, as if with scissors. Rather than rupturing them, our technique gently clips them apart into smaller pieces.”

A new way of doing things

The chemical deconstruction process is elegant and low cost yet works on plastics that are most difficult to handle, converting them into components useful as either fuels or in chemical recycling to produce new, virgin plastics in a circular regime.

“The technology is highly configurable, allowing cost-effective implementation on scales small to large, and also application to diverse waste plastic streams,” notes Vicus.

Photo Credits: David Graham White

The innovative, proprietary technology is also highly tolerant to contaminants, whether in the form of waste residues or plastic resins that sneak through in plastic pre-sorting and cleaning. This lowers overall costs for chemical recycling and opens up the possibility to get more plastics into the recycling stream — addressing the global issue of plastic pollution in a more tangible, high-impact way. “Currently, less than 10 per cent of plastic waste globally is recycled because of different economic or chemical factors,” says Vicus. “The Aduro technology promises to overcome these and, most importantly, to permit small-scale decentralized deployment in remote municipalities to increase the volume of recycled plastic.”

Leading the way in circularity

The Aduro Clean Technologies vision is to partner with governments, cities, the private sector, and non-profit organizations dedicated to turning waste plastics into resources for the 21st century. Realizing that vision involves directing HCT towards ever-broader feedstocks to meet customer objectives, which are driven by demanding regulatory, social, environmental, and economic considerations.

There’s no question — the creative team of Aduro scientists is taking on challenges that are both very difficult and very important: unlocking value from waste plastics that pollute our lands and waterways; improving the characteristics of bitumen through a greener conversion process; and increasing the economic value of renewable oils in scalable operations that can be implemented locally. 

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