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igus partner Mura plans first plant for chemical recycling in Germany

Photo by igus GmbH

The British company Mura Technology is opening a new chapter in modern plastics recycling in Saxony. The first plant in Germany for chemical recycling with a capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes per year is to be built in Böhlen. The special feature: It also transforms multi-layer mixed plastics, which until now have been considered inseparable and end up in incineration, into crude oil for the manufacture of new products. This is an important step towards keeping valuable plastics in the circular economy and protecting the environment.

It is true that Germans are world champions in recycling. But according to the nature conservation organisation WWF, 1.6 million tonnes of plastic waste worth 3.8 billion euros still end up in incineration every year. The reason: pure recycling has hardly been possible up to now. This is because many products, such as food packaging films, consist of several plastics that can no longer be separated mechanically. A new type of recycling plant is to change this, which the British recycling company Mura Technology will build – together with the US chemical company and plastics manufacturer Dow at its site in Böhlen in the district of Leipzig. It will be the first plant of its kind in Germany.

HydroPRS turns plastic back into crude oil

The special feature of the plant in Böhlen: a new type of chemical recycling called Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution (HydroPRS). Using only water, heat and pressure, HydroPRS transforms plastics into crude oil. In just 30 minutes. This oil can then be used to produce high-quality plastic granulate again for the manufacture of brand-new plastic products. The same material can even be recycled repeatedly. “Mura Technology’s invention goes beyond the limits of known chemical recycling,” says Frank Blase, Managing Director of igus. “The HydroPRS technology opens up new possibilities for converting plastic waste into crude oil in an energy-saving way and with a high yield.” igus was the first industry investor to invest around five million euros in the start-up Mura Technology at the beginning of 2020 to help the technology achieve a breakthrough. Around one and a half years later, KBR, a leading international provider of scientific, technological and engineering solutions, joined as another partner. Since then, other partners have included Dow, Chevron Phillips Chemical and LG Chemical. Just recently, Mura also received an additional strategic investment from Dow to further advance the development of additional HydroPRS facilities in the US and Europe. The partnership aims to add an additional 600,000 tonnes of recycling capacity by 2030.

Plastic recycling plant with capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year

Construction of the plastics recycling plant in Böhlen is scheduled to begin in 2023. It is expected to go into operation in 2025. Its recycling capacity: around 120,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Further plants will be built worldwide in the future, in Asia, the USA and England. In north-eastern Teesside, England, Mura Technology is currently building the first commercial HydroPRS plant, which will come on stream in the first half of 2023. It will recycle more than 24,000 tonnes of plastic annually. All plants worldwide are expected to reach an annual capacity of more than 100,000,000 tonnes by 2030.

igus drives forward circular economy for plastics

igus has been supporting Mura Technology’s recycling innovation since the initial phase, because the declared aim of the motion plastics specialist is to drive forward a circular economy for plastics. Mechanical recycling has already been established for over 50 years. For example, the company uses 99 percent of the plastic waste generated in production as new granulate for the injection moulding machines. In 2019, igus also launched Chainge – a recycling programme for end-of-life energy chains. In 2022, the world’s first energy chain made from 100 percent recycled material has been created, as well as a plain bearing programme made from regranulated production waste. Furthermore, together with its partner mtrl, igus is realising an all-plastic bicycle for urban mobility whose frame and wheels can be made from plastic waste. In this way, plastic waste in the landfills of this world is transformed into a valuable resource.

For more information, please visit: https://www.igus.de/