New Plastics Recycling Technology developed in Italy

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Saipem, an Italian company specializing in engineering, construction and drilling services and in the energy and infrastructure sectors, recently announced that it has signed a license agreement with ITEA S.p.A, another Italian company that has a patent for a plastics recycling technology. Under the agreement, Saipem will test the technology.

Originally designed for applications in the oil&gas sector, the technology is particularly suited to solid urban waste disposal, in particular unsorted plastic.

According to the two companies, plastic recycling from differentiated waste has been rather limited. Their review of recent studies leads to the conclusion that only 30% of material collected is recycled, leaving unsolved the problem of “Plasmix”, non-recyclable mixed plastics consisting of a group of heterogeneous plastics included in post-consumption wrappings which cannot be recovered as single polymers.

Mauro Piasere, COO of Saipem’s XSIGHT Division, stated in a news release, “Plastic recycling is an objective of great interest to Saipem, although further studies and technologies are required. The widespread application of the oxy-combustion process could facilitate recovery of the precious energy content of waste plastics while avoiding their dispersion. Use of this technology confirms our ability to adapt oil&gas technologies to new market demands and to support our clients by providing them with solutions targeted at achieving greater sustainability”.

ITEA technology involves a particular process of plastic decomposition called “flameless oxy-combustion”. This produces water, energy and pure CO2, which is not emitted into the atmosphere, but which is ideal for use as a product destined for the market.

ITEA claims that its process is very flexible, relatively simple and can be exploited even in small-sized facilities. If the testing is successful, it will demonstrate that it can recycle Plasmix in a sustainable way.