The humble plastic bottle cap – scourge of waterways and a constant puzzle in terms of the recycling bin (must we take it off? Does it go in the same bin? Does it really get recycled?) is an example of the potential growth, jobs and profits waiting to be generated by the new economy.
Consumer goods giant Proctor & Gamble has invented a process for recycling the polypropylene caps into near virgin-quality reusable plastic.
The technology has been made open source to enable global take-up, and a new company, PureCycle Technologies founded to put the process into practice in the USA.
PureCycle is part of the emerging stable of sustainability-focused manufacturing start-ups being fostered by Innventure, an enterprise incubator launched by ex-Walgren’s chief executive officer, Greg Wassen in 2017.
In March this year, Moody’s Investor Services gave a Green Bond Assessment rating of Excellent to the $185 million Exempt Facility Revenue Bonds to be issued by the Southern Ohio Port Authority for the building of PureCycle’s first recycling facility.
It is a first for the ratings agency, according to Anna ZubetsAnderson, Moody’s Investor Service vice president – senior analyst.
“This green bond is the first in our portfolio to specifically target the plastic waste crisis,” Zubets-Anderson says.
“Since the facility is first of its kind on a commercial scale, the actual environmental benefits may vary depending on project execution. That said, our GB1 assessment reflects our expectation of comprehensive impact reporting practices for the time that the bonds are outstanding.”
Aspects of the PureCycle concept that qualified it as a Green Bond included its pollution control and prevention function through reducing waste and increasing recycling; and a reduced energy and emissions footprint compared to virgin resin production.
The numbers are pretty impressive: roughly 60 million kilograms of waste polypropylene from bottle caps converted into millions of kilos of recycled “near-virgin” quality polypropylene while saving around 262 hectares of low-density plastic material from landfills, and a non-renewable energy use footprint of around 10 megajoules of energy per kilogram of resin compared to 79.5 MJ per kilo for producing standard virgin resin.