Focused on disrupting the mindset of "take-make-dispose" while embracing the possibility of plastics circularity, we seek the innovations and partnerships necessary to advance circularity. As materials science experts, we continue work on a plastic additives portfolio that increases the efficiency of recycling plastic, such as our efforts with PureCycle.
"Helping increase the circularity of plastics by keeping raw materials in use can significantly reduce the negative impact mismanagement of plastics is having on our environment, says Scott Trenor, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Milliken. United by a shared passion for solutions that make a positive impact on the world, Scott and his long-time friend, John Layman, the initial inventor of PureCycle technology, collaborated to improve the recycling process for polypropylene plastics.
Today, in the U.S., about 29% of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is commonly used to make plastic bottles and other consumer goods, is recycled. By contrast, less than 10% of polypropylene plastic is currently recycled. Recycling a polypropylene container into another container uses roughly 90% less energy, 50% less water, and reduces CO2 emissions by 75% compared to using virgin polypropylene. PureCycle is the first company to focus solely on recycling and reintegrating polypropylene upstream to highly sensitive consumer product applications, which are used in food and beverage and consumer goods packaging.
PureCycle’s process enables the recycled material to become truly circular and be reused in its original application, as opposed to having to be downcycled into lower-value products, and Milliken’s additives will play a critical role. "The PureCycle recycling process pulls everything out and then Milliken's food-safe additives are going to be needed for brand owners to have the exact same performance and aesthetics that they are used to with virgin polymers," said Allen Jacoby, Sr. Vice President for Milliken’s Plastic Additives business. Find out more from Allen here.
In early 2019, Milliken announced it had partnered with PureCycle Technologies, as it moved forward in its plans to open its first plant, in Ohio, U.S., to restore used polypropylene (PP) plastic to 'virgin-like' quality. The first PureCycle plant is expected to purify and recycle 119-million pounds of polypropylene to produce 105-million pounds each year. PureCycle Technologies recently announced ambitious plans to build 25 plants over the next 15 years—producing nearly four billion pounds of purified post-consumer polypropylene per year and making a significant contribution to solving a global plastics problem.
Learn more about Milliken’s innovations in recycling here.