AN OVERVIEW OF OUR TECH

For starters, we are developing chemical and mechanical upcycling processes for “impossible-to recycle” plastic waste. Specifically we are working on metalized multi-layered plastic (MLP), coloured PET bottles and polycotton textiles.

We are also working on converting this waste into high-quality material (like 3D printing filament) which we will then monetize.

We have been fortunate to get some early breakthroughs in chemical separation and recycling of our target waste streams. And most crucially, we can do all of this through one process (as opposed to different processes), offering synergies that give us the best chance of being economically viable.

METALLICIZED MULTI-LAYERED PLASTIC (MLP) PACKAGING

Metalized MLP is a low-value, high volume, composite waste that is considered economically and technically hard to recycle. Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally. 95% of plastic packaging material value is lost annually.

We have managed to demetallize and delaminate it into its constituent layers.

COLOURED PET BOTTLES

Coloured PET bottles are hard to decolorize and are thus not mechanically recycled like transparent PET bottles. They are difficult to sort and contain toxic elements, making coloured PET less recyclable. This isn’t a large problem yet, but it might become a hard one soon, and no one’s really working on it right now.

We’ve managed to decolorize and depolymerize them into their building blocks.

POLYCOTTON TEXTILE WASTE

Polycotton textile waste is hard to separate into cotton and polyester and contribute significantly to the microplastic menace we currently face. 60% of clothing material is plastic and clothes are one of the largest producer of microplastics.

We’ve managed to chemically separate the polyester and the cotton.

ONE SYNERGETIC PROCESS

Most importantly, we can throw our target waste streams and almost all types of plastic waste into one big pot for recycling. We don’t need separate processes, just one. This gives us the best chance of being economically viable, lowering our pre-sorting costs and synergizing our recycling costs (+ yield).

The cool thing about trying to recycle “impossible-to-recycle” plastics is that the more conventional, easy-to-recycle plastics become a lot easier to tackle.

But, unit economics are not in our favour as of now, and we still need to upcycle these separated elements into higher quality material. And this is still very much at the lab level.

So, in other words, we have a long way to go.

OUR INSPIRATION FOR DESIGNING WASTE SOLUTIONS

When we read Cradle to Cradle, we were floored. Here was a philosophy that focused on humans being net positive assets to the planet, like a tree, versus “less bad” like what most environmentalists focus on today. Cradle to Cradle is not anti-carbon, it just believes carbon should be where it belongs – in the soil.

This aligned seamlessly with what we believed, formalizing a way of thinking we couldn’t formalize. So, we’ve embraced it with open arms.

These are the principles they espouse:

WASTE = FOOD

This bit really resonated with us. Yes, we are familiar with the fact that nothing is “waste”, but what’s even more important is that different types of waste (or resources) are different types of nutrients and they belong in their own cycles. It does not make sense mixing them up into contradicting composites.

THE FRACTAL TRIANGLE

Along with that, Will McDonough and Michael Braungart also conceptualised the “fractal triangle”. They espouse that any Cradle to Cradle product or service should be at the intersection of ecology, economy and equity. We would probably rename “equity” as “equality of opportunity”, but besides that, we are all giddy with synergy.

Cradle to Cradle is a full-fledged movement of sorts. It has an institute in place that certifies products and services as “C2C” compliant and yes, some day we hope to get certified as well.

If you have any pointers, opinions or other ideas, don’t hesitate to email us. We especially love those who can lovingly challenge our beliefs.