Angelon equipment sorts plastics by color with high accuracy

NOVA chemicals seeks to tackle hard-to-recycle plastics | xxlphoto/Shutterstock

NOVA Chemicals is planning a pilot-scale reactor for plastics pyrolysis in 2022, the latest recycling-related move from the resin manufacturer.

In its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance report, NOVA also reported that it recycled more than 99% of its industrial scrap PE, about 7,000 tons, and diverted another roughly 1,200 tons of PE from landfill, sending lumps and strands created during production changeovers to a plastics company for processing. 

NOVA, in partnership with Enerkem, now plans to begin construction of a pilot-scale reactor. Intended to address hard-to-recycle plastics, the reactor will use pyrolysis to convert discarded plastic to feedstocks for new plastic production. 

“We are investigating pyrolysis technology and continue our work with Enerkem, the first company in the world to produce renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste at full commercial scale,” the report said. “Together, we are partnering to scale up this game-changing technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, including plastics and other items such as household waste and construction materials, into feedstocks that can be used to manufacture new plastics.” 

The report also noted that the company introduced its first grades of 100% recycled PE from distribution centers or agricultural film feedstock. It is available in commercial volumes for a range of flexible film applications, such as collation shrink and stretch wrap, agricultural films, heavy-duty shipping sacks and trash bag liners, among others. 

“In October 2021, we achieved a milestone, delivering railcar quantities of rPE,” the report said. 

NOVA also debuted a series of customizable recycled PE film structure designs that can be tailored for applications such as heavy-duty sacks, collation shrink, stretch film, agricultural film, trash bags and liners, bubble wrap and air pillows.

Along with the recycled PE lines, in 2021 NOVA also launched a PE resin, HPs267-AB, that functions as a moisture barrier. This could enable the company to replace mixed-material packaging, such as metallized or PET-laminate non-recyclable films. 

“This resin enables packaging engineers to design a wide range of food packaging films that protects contents from contamination and spoilage without sacrificing moisture barrier performance, toughness, or recyclability,” the report said. 

Looking forward, NOVA plans to maintain its annual target of zero plastic pellet loss to the environment from facilities, meaning no resin pellets are spilled during manufacturing or transportation. 

“This target aligns with our view that plastic does not belong in the environment,” the report said. “For the last three years, we have experienced zero plastic pellet loss and we want to maintain that performance.”

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