With our focus clearly on the most recent IPCC report & that “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean & land”; we are all mindful of the very bleak picture this has painted for planet Earth.
This is a stark report with an equally stark projection. The report cites that to reduce advancing anthropogenic climate change & reach net zero, limiting human activities which are responsible for damaging levels of CO2 & other GHG emissions is going to need to be adopted globally & immediately.
However, as is very evident, some of the largest countries in the world, continue to be the largest emitters of CO2 & GHG’s, which is having a catastrophic effect on the global climate.
Therefore, what if anything is changing & how are companies making an impact on the effects of anthropogenic climate change?
The general media tends to focus a lot on the negatives & misses out the really important work going on behind the reports & news stories.
Therefore, this week we are going to take a look at just a small fraction of the UK innovators & disruptors striving to make a difference to advancing climate change & how some of them have benefitted from Innovate UK funding to enable their game changing products or services to be realised.
Recycling Technologies – Recovering & recycling plastics into a synthetic version of crude oil
Recycling technologies having benefited from a £644,734 investment from Innovate UK. The premise of the investment is to assist with the R&D of their thermal cracking technologies, which enables plastics destined for landfill to be ‘recovered’ & recycled into alternative products.
The Recycling Technologies RT7000 is capable of processing the recovered plastic via thermal cracking into an ultra low sulphur hydrocarbon product branded as Plaxx. Plaxx is a synthetic equivalent of crude oil. It can be used as a low sulphur fuel or chemical feedstock (naphtha) to make new plastics. (1)
Municipal waste at Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), food contaminated plastic packaging waste from Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants and Recovered Plastic Litter (RPL) in water treatment facilities are some of the largest sources of plastic waste. (1)
With more than a quarter of the UK’s 3.2MT of plastic waste sent to landfill because it is contaminated with organic material or other plastics; the challenge is to find a way to recover the plastic from this waste stream & reduce the ever-increasing plastic pollution. (1)
Second Life EV Batteries
As the choice of EV vehicles continues to grow, there is a natural by-product of growth & or accidental damage to a vehicle & that is how to recycle the batteries.
Traditional Acid batteries have been being recycled for many years, but there are still some difficulties with recycling the new range of EV batteries due to their volatile nature.
However, Second Life EV batteries have found a way to enable the batteries to, as the name suggest, have a second life.
Reuse, Recycle & REPURPOSE is the ethos of Second Life EV Batteries Ltd & they are the first UK company to focus on the sale of second life lithium EV cells & modules for EV enthusiasts, domestic & commercial applications. (2)
EV batteries are now being upcycled for additional power storage & in some cases to enable some companies to convert ICE’s to electric, by utilising the power packs.
Second Life EV batteries test the capacity of each battery thoroughly & re-rate the Kwh accordingly.
With the domestic EV market set to accelerate over the next 5-10 years, second Life EV batteries are certainly making recycling EV batteries a much more viable option in the future.
Choose Packaging (CHOOSE Water Limited)
Edinburgh based company CHOOSE are striving to minimise plastic pollution, with their innovative, plastic free, fully biodegradable bottle made entirely from naturally occurring, sustainable & non-toxic materials.
“We created our bottle to minimise plastic pollution and begin the journey towards zero impact living. The products we offer utilise our patented paper bottle technology – a paper casing lined with a plant-based waterproof PET free liner. All the materials used to make our bottles are 100% natural, sustainable and vegan-friendly which will take less than a year, instead of a few centuries to degrade.” (3)
CHOOSE Water Limited have benefitted from a funding grant from InnovateUK, with the focus being on the development & scale up of the product under the Collaborative & R&D InnovateUK category.
MacRebur – Recycling plastics bottles into bitumen
MacRebur’s CEO & Founder Toby McCartney having worked with charitable organisations in India helping reclaim goods from vast landfill sites; was inspired by an innovate way the locals had for filling potholes in roads.
He witnessed large sheets of unwanted plastics being pushed into the potholes, diesel being poured over the top & set on fire. The plastic would melt into the hole & thus fix the problem.
Upon his return, McCartney got together with two friends, Nick & Gordon, & formed MacRebur®. The team came up with their innovative idea to take a mix of waste plastics, granulate them & add them into the making of an enhanced asphalt road.(6)
After years of tests and trials all over the world, MacRebur now promote 3 waste plastic additives into asphalt. All of the products meet various worldwide road standards & have been rigorously tested against standard asphalt, bitumen & Polymer Modified Bitumen. (4)
The numbers & data in relation to the MacRebur product, speaks for itself. For each km of road laid using the MacRebur product, they use the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8MT of single use plastic bags. 1 tonne of the MacRebur road mix contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles. (4)
Oceanium founded in 2018 is based in Oban, Scotland with an office in London. Oceanium have developed ‘marine-safe, home compostable bio-packaging materials & food & nutrition products from sustainably-farmed seaweed. (5)
Utilizing an innovative green chemistry, Oceanium will produce a home compostable, marine-safe bio-packaging material to replace current food packaging which has no end of life solutions. Oceanware* will be 100% natural and its end of life solution is to to be disposed of with food waste which will then be composted for soil health or for anaerobic digestion for energy. (5)
With the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge having been rolled out by UK Research & Innovation, the national funding agency investing in science & research in the UK; companies like CHOOSE & Oceanium are being enabled to scale up & get their products to market.
These five UK companies all have the same vision; to be part of the solution to combat anthropogenic climate change. By disrupting traditional supply chains & adopting a circular economic approach to recycling, upcycling & re-imagining of products & services; these companies are forming part of a shift in traditional manufacturing processes.
Each company & each country which is able to adapt & change makes a difference to advancing climate change, showing for certain that there are positive moves being made & there are innovators & disruptors ready to make those changes for the benefit of planet Earth.
Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2