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Mura Technology Opens Doors to World’s First Commercial Scale HydroPRS™ Advanced Plastic Recycling Site in Teesside, UK

26 October 2023


Mura Technology has today opened the world’s first commercial-scale HydroPRS™ advanced plastic recycling plant in Teesside, UK, to key representatives from the advanced recycling and plastic manufacturing value chains. The event marks the beginning of commissioning, with the first recycled hydrocarbon products expected to be delivered to Mura’s offtake partners in 2024.

Key figures from the plastics industry in attendance included Marco ten Bruggencate, Dow’s Commercial VP for EMEA and the President of industry body Plastics Europe, Benny Mermans, Vice President of Sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and Jinsuk Kim, Managing Director of LG Chem Europe. Doug Kelly, President of Technology at KBR, Mura’s License and Engineering Partner, also attended, alongside Dr Paul Davidson, Director of UK Research & Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK.

The day was structured into two parts, with the morning session seeing an opening speech by Mura CEO Dr Steve Mahon, followed by key representatives from Mura’s partners: Benny Mermans, CP Chem Vice President of Sustainability, Marco ten Bruggencate, Dow Commercial Vice President of Packaging and Speciality Plastics EMEA and Doug Kelly, KBR President of Technology. These engaging speeches all highlighted the value in collaboration and commitment – collaboration throughout the value chain and between new and existing sectors, and commitment to the global roll-out of Mura’s scalable and commercially viable plastic recycling solution. They also spoke of the positive economic benefits that this first site will bring to the Teesside area, including high-value job opportunities and local supplier engagement.

Following lunch and an opportunity to network and meet faces from the industry, the party were invited to head to ReNew ELP, Mura’s first HydroPRS™ site. The tour groups were staggered and led by key members of the engineering team, including Chief Technology Officer Richard Daley, with additional individuals posted at key positions to talk through various elements of the process – Chris Wilson, Feedstock Manager, talked through the plastic bales housed in-situ that will be processed once the site is operating commercially.

The purpose-built facility at the Wilton International industrial site will process flexible and rigid mixed plastics, including films, that are currently considered ‘unrecyclable’.

The site has capacity to produce 20ktpa of recycled liquid hydrocarbon products, with scope to expand production capacity to over three times this initial size. Located at Wilton International, Teesside, the site will provide up to 50 direct jobs, having created approximately 150 jobs during the build and commissioning phases, and approximately 100 further jobs2 within related infrastructure to support operations.

Companies represented outside of Mura’s partners on the day included Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency who granted the ReNew ELP project £4.42million in October 2021, feedstock suppliers to the site Geminor and Elite, investment bank Goldman Sachs, companies from the petrochemical industry including PKN Orlen, Total Energies and Neste and advanced recycling advocates from the plastics industry Wrap and BPF.

Dr Steve Mahon, Mura Technology’s CEO, said: “Today’s pre-commissioning open day of our first-of-its-kind, next generation recycling facility is a groundbreaking achievement and the culmination of four years of dedication.

Our HydroPRSTM process is unlocking a new market for plastic waste, creating value and keeping both plastic and carbon in circularity. The technology works alongside existing mechanical recycling to ensure no plastic types are considered ‘unrecyclable’ and require incineration or landfilling.

With support from our partners, the Teesside site will be the first in Mura’s global roll-out, helping in the fight against the plastic pollution and global warming crises and acting as a launchpad for the 1,000,000 tonnes of annual recycling capacity that Mura plans to have in operation and development in this decade.”

Adrian Whyle, British Plastics Federation, said: “Congratulations on organising an outstanding event. For me it was a special day on a personal level. When I joined Plastics Europe in 2010, I was a very lonely voice in promoting the need and benefits of advanced recycling for those materials that could not be mechanically recycled. Thankfully, the dialogue changed, and Mura took the lead getting their technology across the line ahead of others in the UK. I must commend both the design and high-quality build of the new plant I saw during the tour and look forward to Mura leading the way for advanced recycling in the UK, Europe and the ROW.”

Pioneered by Mura Technology, the HydroPRS™ process, unlike pyrolysis, utilises supercritical water (water under high pressure and high temperature) to convert post-consumer, multi layered, flexible and rigid plastics such as films, pots, tubs and trays, which are largely considered ‘unrecyclable’ through other methods, into high yields of stable, premium hydrocarbon feedstocks. Through this process, there is no limit to the number of times the same material can be recycled – meaning HydroPRS™ has the potential to significantly reduce single-use plastics and permanently increase material circularity in the plastics industry. By providing a route to recycling for these materials, Mura is creating a complementary process to sit alongside traditional mechanical recycling, as highlighted in a recent technical report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Use of plastic, particularly in single-use packaging, has overwhelmed recycling and waste systems globally. Recycling rates for plastic packaging vary globally with the UK at 50% and the US at only 13%.

Poor waste management has led to plastic entering our environment. Durability means plastic remains in our rivers and seas for years, slowly breaking up into microplastics. The harmful impacts of plastic pollution on both human health and marine life are only just starting to be understood.

Independent Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) based on the first site at Teesside have shown the HydroPRS™ process provides an 80% carbon emissions saving by diverting ‘unrecyclable’ plastic away from incineration.6 When compared to fossil oil-based feedstock, HydroPRS™ produces products with an equivalent or lower Global Warming Potential and saves up to five barrels of oil for every tonne of plastic waste processed.

Mura has been supported by investment from blue-chip companies across the plastic recycling value chain including KBR, Dow, CPChem, LG Chem and igus GmbH, alongside funding from UK Research & Innovation’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge and the Government’s Future Fund. These partnerships have enabled Mura to begin scaling worldwide, with plans in development for sites in the USA and at Dow’s Böhlen site in Germany. Alongside these investments, the company has secured partnerships with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, LG Chem and GS Caltex Corporation for the development of HydroPRSTM facilities under licence in Japan and South Korea.

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