BioCellection Uses Chemistry to Recycle Unrecycleable Plastics
California based recycling startup, BioCellection, utilizes chemistry to ensure that NO plastics are left to waste—not just currently recyclable plastics, but ALL plastics.
The company was founded by (then) 21 year-old Canadians, Miranda Wang, and Jeanny Yao, who discovered a soil-based bacteria capable of eating plastic while working in their high school's lab.
Their experiments were built off of a U.S. study which found that pure polyethylene powder could be broken down by a catalyst.
Wang and Yao engineered a similar catalyst that could break down plastics, including currently unrecyclable plastics, like even faster and more feasibly.
The duo went on to major in biotechnology in college and then founded BioCellection after winning several business plan and social impact contests.
The technology BioCellection has developed over hundreds of experiments has opened the potential to use plastic waste to replace oil. They are aiming to convert plastics into virgin quality materials to be used to produce more complex plastic products such as nylon, shoe soles, and automobile parts.
The ultimate goals is to "make plastic waste infinitely recyclable" and to do so cheaply in a manner that can be replicated worldwide.
Of the two current methods of recycling plastics, one method requires shredding the plastic and then melting them down to be reconstituted. Because this process requires that the plastics first be clean, it is very inefficient.
The other, process, called pyrolysis, doesn't require such cleanliness as intense heat is applied to the plastics so that it breaks down and can be reused as oil for energy. This process is just not economical.
BioCellection's process does not require the plastic waste to be clean, nor does it require such intense heat to break down the polymer chain.
The company expects to have a machine capable of breaking down 5 tons of plastic per day by 2019. ♲