PlasCred Circular Innovations Inc., a Calgary-based plastics upcycler, is preparing to scale-up its process of using heat to break down and recycle plastic waste to reduce the demand for oil.
Formed in 2022, most of its founders come from Alberta’s oil and gas industry, according to president and CEO Troy Lupul.
His background as a waterways technician had him building water treatment projects for oil and gas and mining producers, exposing him to the problems posed by the reject stream of waste plastics. Over 90 per cent of the world’s plastic is not recycled, he noted, and the capabilities of mechanical recycling are limited.
To reduce plastic pollution and demand for oil, PlasCred devised a form of pyrolysis that is applicable for mixed plastics — from resin identification code one to seven — that generates an end product that can be recycled.
“The molecule is wanted,” he told SustainableBiz in an interview. “Human beings are using up a lot of materials and we want to be a part of that input.”
How PlasCred’s pyrolysis works
Mixed plastics waste such as ketchup bottles, medical waste, oil containers, car parts and chip bags are melted down to a liquid in a low-temperature reactor. The liquid produces a vapour which reacts with catalysts, transforming the vapour into zero-sulphur green condensate, carbon black or aromatics.
The green condensate can be blended to make high-quality oil that can be repurposed back into plastic products. Up to 80 per cent of unsorted, unwashed plastic waste can be recycled using PlasCred’s reactor process, the company claims.
“That’s the advantage, because now we don’t have to drill no more wells,” Lupul said. “We’ve got enough feedstock on the Earth now to basically repurpose that not as a plastic, but as a fluid.”
He also pointed to other environmental and technical benefits:
- The reactors occupy a small footprint and are modular, making them efficient and scalable.
- Only a small amount of water is used for cleaning the waste and cooling the reactor.
- The reactors are initially powered by an injection of natural gas and then mostly fuelled by syngas produced by the pyrolysis.
- A carbon dioxide injection line captures emissions.
PlasCred’s facility and business plans
PlasCred is building toward what it calls the Maximus facility in Edmonton which will sit on 20 acres of land.
The first phase is expected to remove 300 tonnes of plastic waste per day and produce approximately 2,000 barrels of green condensate. By phase three the company has plans to produce 10,000 barrels of green condensate per day and remove 1,300 tonnes of plastic waste.
Plastic waste will be sourced from the Greater Toronto Area, lower mainland B.C. and Vancouver and delivered via rail by PlasCred’s partner Canadian National Railway, guaranteeing plenty of feedstock, Lupul said.
Fibreco Export Inc., a company that operates a terminal for wood pellets, will be taking in the sea containers of plastic and offloading for CN Rail.
“It’s a great partnership that allows us to be more of an international player,” Lupul said.
PlasCred's business model will involve signing off-take agreements for its green condensate, according to Lupul, and generate revenue by selling its green condensate and developing plastic and carbon credits.
Plastic credits allow a company or individual to fund the recycling of a certain amount of plastic waste. With Emeryville, Calif.-based SCS Global and Verra, it formed a credit development team to explore protocols and standards for plastic credits.
Goals for the future
PlasCred plans to hit the road this month to attract fundraising. Lupul said the Business Development Bank of Canada is interested in the company, as are other funds that “see us as ESG story that makes money.”
It is aiming to raise $15 million to $20 million in its first fundraising round covering engineering and development.
Targeted sites for expansion in North America include Sarnia, Ont., and the U.S. cities of Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Cushing, Okla.
The PlasCred CEO’s dream is to see the company become the largest upcycler of raw mixed plastic in the world, and is confident he can grow it into a billion-dollar company.
Editor's note: PlasCred did not secure $15 million in financing for the Maximus facility, does not have an off-take agreement and does not aim to raise $120 million in a first fundraising round. SustainableBiz regrets the errors. Its credit development team partnership is not with ClimeCo as the company previously reported.