All types of plastics now recyclable thanks to two companies

This is number 22 on IE's list of 22 best innovations, a look back at recycling for all plastics.
Stephen Vicinanza
22-Plastic
22-Plastic

Ibrahim Can/Interesting Engineering

Two companies, Plastonix and Elemental Recycling have done what others could not: they have found technologies that recycle all types of plastic.

This is a real innovation because up until now, there were practically no way to recycle most plastics, especially soft plastic, mixed plastics, and dirty or soiled plastics. That has all changed.

The monumental task of recycling the 380 million tons of plastic disposed of each year, that clog the ocean and beaches throughout the world, has eluded us. Around 80 percent of all plastic ends up in the oceans and landfills.

This is number 22 in Interesting Engineering's series showcasing the best innovations of 2022. Check back to discover more about groundbreaking AI, unique solar panels, new 3D printing methods and much more.

There have been discoveries, such as plastic eating bacteria (takes a long time), a plastic eating enzyme (hard to reproduce), plastic eating mushrooms (only works on certain plastics). The answer was found in technology, as often happens.

All types of plastics now recyclable thanks to two companies
Recycling in a recycling plant

What is Plastonix?

A Canadian company, Plastonix has developed a technology that uses several proprietary techniques, that involve a series of methods, systems and chemical agents to reduce any petroleum-derived material into processable chips or a powdered material.

Some of the composite materials that can be made from the chips and powder are, paving materials, paving stones, construction blocks, tile beams, sheets of material, and boards.

The system can process any material derived from petroleum, even mixed types of materials, at the same time. The plastics we can recycle, the plastics we can't, the plastics no one thought anyone could process, can all be mixed together in one batch and turned into chips and powder.

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What is Elemental Recycling?

A Houston, Texas company, Elemental Recycling has gone one step further than Plastronix, by developing and selling a plastic recycling machine. Their proprietary system will be delivered to the customer in quarter 1 of 2023.

In a single step process, they take any kind of plastic and upcycle that waste into high purity graphite and graphene. Graphite can be used to make smartphones, electronics of all types, fighter jets and airplanes and is one of the composite materials in automobile manufacturing.

One of the byproducts of Elemental's recycling process is the production of hydrogen. The market for hydrogen based products is growing rapidly and will include solutions like storage, transportation, energy, and shipping.

Both of these methods are carbon-neutral and provide green sources of materials. The manufacturing of products from waste plastic for these companies meets and exceeds all regulatory standards. But more importantly, it produces no emissions at all.

This is number 22 in Interesting Engineering's series showcasing the best innovations of 2022. Check back to discover more about groundbreaking AI, unique solar panels, new 3D printing methods and much more.