Australian company Licella Holdings is fast becoming a world-leader in plastic recycling

Licella’s technology is diverting plastic from landfill, incineration and the natural environment and reducing reliance on fossil fuel crude oil.

And the company credits much of its success to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

We were at a point where we needed to be able to deliver larger samples to prove the technology from end to end, and we couldn’t do that at that stage without the assistance of the program
— Steve Rogers, Business Development Manager, Licella

Through the program, Licella received expert advice and a $1 million grant to commercialise its innovative technology.

Licella’s technology superstar is its Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (otherwise called Cat-HTR) which takes waste plastic, and through a process akin to a commercial-sized pressure-cooker, reduces the plastic to its component parts. The result is a range of materials including waxes, oils and plastics that can be turned into other plastic products or fuels.

Unlike other technologies, the Cat-HTR chemically recycles mixed plastics without the need to separate different plastic types, including end-of-life plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill, incineration or end up in our oceans. And, it allows plastic waste to be recycled over and over again.

The oil created from the process can be refined into fuels and chemicals, including the chemicals to make new plastics. In this way, chemical recycling is a truly circular solution for all plastic, including that plastic not able to be physically recycled.

The grant helped Licella build a large pilot facility at their plant in Somersby NSW to test its processes from end to end and make this innovative idea into a reality.

Licella’s innovation gained the attention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who spoke about their achievements at the United Nations General Assembly. “New technologies are coming on line with the potential to recycle used plastics into valuable new plastics – creating a circular plastics economy.” Mr Morrison said.

“The ‘Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor’ [is] an innovative Australian designed technology that converts end of life plastics into waxes, diesel and new plastics. These innovations show us a truly circular economy is not only possible, but is achievable. And it’s of course, essential.”

Following the commercialisation of the Cat-HTR platform, it has attracted considerable interest from across the globe. Licella has already developed programs with Canada and the UK, and more recently, has established partners in New Zealand, and with the government of East Timor.

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