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Comment Sustainability

NOVA Chemicals enters new recycling partnership with Merlin Plastics

By Mary Page Bailey |

NOVA Chemicals Corp. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) announced a long-term agreement with Merlin Plastics Supply Inc., Canada’s largest plastics recycler, to increase the supply of high-quality, post-consumer recyclate (PCR) for consumer packaging. This marks NOVA Chemicals’ entry to the PCR market.

“Plastic has great value and is essential to modern life. NOVA Chemicals is committed to finding new ways to capture its value beyond its first use to drive a plastics circular economy,” said Luis Sierra, president and CEO, NOVA Chemicals. “This partnership with Merlin and our forthcoming suite of PCR-containing resins will help meet our customer and brand owner needs and expand high-quality PCR supply for use in consumer packaging.”

Many of the world’s leading consumer brands have pledged to increase the amount of PCR content in plastic packaging to an average of 25 percent by 2025. To meet this global demand for PCR, NOVA Chemicals and Merlin Plastics have teamed up to repurpose the products consumers place in their blue bins. Today’s recycled polyethylene is mostly used in non-food applications such as detergent bottles and plastic lumber. This partnership will turn high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic recyclate into resin for use in everyday products and packaging including food applications. Finding technical solutions to improve the quality and consistency of PCR will help to advance a circular economy.

“We are excited to combine our three decades of recycling experience with NOVA Chemicals’ industry knowledge and technical expertise to expand the supply of high-value polyethylene PCR in the marketplace,” said Tony Moucachen, president, Merlin Plastics. “With this agreement, we will be able to turn more recycled plastic packaging into valuable new source material for consumer products and packaging,” Moucachen added. This partnership with NOVA is one of several important relationships that Merlin has built with industry leaders to enhance recycling. 

NOVA Chemicals is providing financing for a multi-million-dollar project to accelerate Merlin’s expansion into PCR for food contact applications and, in turn, will secure a reliable supply to offer to its customers. This is one of several collaborations NOVA Chemicals is pursuing to build its PCR offerings with commercial quantities beginning in 2021. Ultimately, NOVA Chemicals plans to offer 100 percent PCR polyethylene and PCR blended with its virgin grades, including high-quality LLDPE, LDPE, and HDPE.

“We expect demand for PCR to increase tenfold in the next five years based on brand owner sustainability commitments,” said Greg DeKunder, vice president, marketing, NOVA Chemicals. “We are excited to continue successfully working with our customers on application development as we enter the PCR market.”

Merlin Plastics, headquartered in Vancouver, has two facilities in British Columbia (BC). Merlin Plastics in Gifford is a state-of-the-art container sortation plant, one of the largest on the West Coast, where the materials from the curbside blue bins collected in BC and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest get sorted into their respective streams. Merlin Plastics in Delta, BC is a processing plant that transforms the various plastic container packaging into recycled plastic pellet. NOVA Chemicals’ funding will expand the equipment in the Delta facility and enhance Merlin’s processing of recyclate for food packaging applications.

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