NOVA Chemicals considering Ontario plant to treat post-consumer plastic waste

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plastic food wrap
Recycled polyethylene manufactured using Plastic Energy-produced feedstock, called TACOIL, has identical properties to virgin polyethylene and can be used in food contact and high-performance applications. Photo Credit:  Bravissimos, stock.adobe.com

The Calgary-based NOVA Chemicals Corporation says it is studying the feasibility of building Canada’s largest pyrolysis-driven advanced recycling facility in Sarnia, Ontario, to use end-of-life plastic waste to replace oil in the manufacturing of new plastics.

Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures.

Partnering with U.K.-based recycling technology company, Plastic Energy, NOVA officials say the project could have an initial potential capacity of 66 kilotonnes per year. 

“Post-use plastics offer tremendous value to furthering the circular economy, and our teams at NOVA Chemicals work daily to innovate new and collaborative ways to extend the lifecycle of our products and plastic packaging,” announced Greg DeKunder, VP of NOVA’s circular solutions, in a statement.

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Plastic Energy currently has two chemical recycling plants operating in Spain. The company uses a patented process to treat post-consumer plastic waste. Recycled polyethylene manufactured using Plastic Energy-produced feedstock, called TACOIL, has identical properties to virgin polyethylene and can be used in food contact and high-performance applications, helping manufacturers and packagers achieve their recycled content goals, the company says. For every tonne of end-of-life plastic waste processed, 850 litres of chemical feedstock TACOIL are produced.

Carlos Monreal, founder and CEO of Plastic Energy, said in an announcement that the project is important for the North American market because it provides a solution for incorporating recycled content into food-grade packaging. 

“Together with NOVA Chemicals, we aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills, incineration, or as leakage into the environment, which is important for the circular economy in Canada,” Monreal said in a statement.

NOVA Chemicals recently announced its plan to reach 30% recycled content as a share of its total polyethylene sales by 2030 in its Roadmap to Sustainability Leadership. This includes its commitment to build a mechanical recycling business, which opened last week in Connersville, Indiana, and to continue exploring advanced recycling technologies. If built, the Sarnia facility would see NOVA Chemicals increase its $2-billion investment already made in Ontario.

In late 2022, Nova completed its world-scale AST2 facility, located at the new Rokeby site in St. Clair Township, Ontario. It has a production capacity of approximately one billion pounds of polyethylene per year. 

Nova Chemicals has nearly 2,500 employees worldwide.

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