The Chemours Co. (Wilmington, Del.) announced its participation leading a three-year recycling research project in collaboration with industry, academic, and government experts to develop an efficient, cost-effective, and more sustainable process for recovering titanium dioxide (TiO2) and polymers from plastic end-use products. The initiative, dubbed Remove2Reclaim, has the potential to drive significant environmental benefits, eliminating waste and reducing the amount of energy used in manufacturing, by enabling circularity across a much wider range of applications.
Current commercial scale recycling technologies do not allow polymers and additives to be effectively removed and separated, limiting the potential applications and overall quality of products made with recycled plastic. Remove2Reclaim is designed to change that. The project goal is to develop commercial-scale detection and extraction technologies that enable the removal and recovery of TiO2 and polymers for reuse.
“Through the Remove2Reclaim initiative, we hope to help crack the code on effective plastic recycling, achieving a new level of circularity for the industry,” said Steven De Backer, EMEA Technical Marketing Manager at Chemours. “This initiative has the potential to reclaim thousands of tons of TiO2 from different end-of-life streams, reducing raw material demands, and creating a new TiO2 supply stream for our customers. We’re honored to lead this project in collaboration with a team of experts from across the value chain to pursue a common goal that benefits our shared planet.”
In the project’s first year, research partners have developed a sorting mechanism to effectively identify plastic wastes that contain TiO2 and determined innovative solvent-based extraction routes to remove TiO2 from different polymer matrices. Other project milestones include developing methods and equipment to detect TiO2 in specific polymer matrices, recovering TiO2 from the polymer by dissolution route, and eventually reusing the TiO2 and polymer in new products.
“At Chemours, we aspire to be the most sustainable TiO2 enterprise in the world, and that requires applying our expertise to some of the world’s greatest challenges, including plastic circularity,” said Ed Sparks, President of Titanium Technologies at Chemours. “We’re committed to leveraging responsible chemistry and cross-industry collaboration to solve our customers’ challenges with minimal impact on our shared planet. Remove2Reclaim is a great example of this model at work.”
The Remove2Reclaim project kicked off in September 2020 with the support of Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for the chemical and plastics industry in Flanders, Belgium. It includes a collaboration of the public and private sectors, including Chemours as the project coordinator, INEOS Styrolution, Lybover, Deceuninck, Matco Plastics, Centexbel, VITO, Ghent University, and KU Leuven. The project also received funding from VLAIO, the Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agency.
“Remove2Reclaim is an exciting project with the potential to turn recycling ambitions into circular solutions that benefit our planet,” reads a statement from Catalisti. “By bringing together leaders in the industry, academic, and government spheres, we’re taking a holistic approach that engages the entire value chain. The project has gained momentum under Chemours’ leadership, and we’re looking forward to seeing this initiative continue making progress toward achieving its goal of producing an innovative new recycling process.”
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