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US Company Revolutionise the Recycling of Bioplastics

Los Angeles startup sees possibility of mechanical recycling of PLA

LA company Bioplastic Recycling is developing recycling processes and end markets for recovered polylactic acid (PLA). There’s currentmy no large-scale recycling market for PLA.

Bioplastic Recycling was part of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), before opening a separate prototyping lab in downtown Los Angeles in 2017. The company has now moved operations to a larger, 10,000-square-foot facility in Torrance (LA).

Bioplastic Recycling is still in the R&D stage, collecting 20 to 50 tons per month of plastic.

The company uses size reduction and lab-scale extruding and pelletizing equipment and is developing small-scale trommels and washing systems. They’re working with investors to obtain money for a wash line capable of cleaning 2 tons per hour,

Separation of PLA and PET is a challenge because both sink in float-sink tanks, so the company sees the need for a flake sorter.

Feedstock comes  from commercial composters that consider PLA as contamination and a “secondary materials recovery facility” (MRF) in the LA area run by Titus MRF Services.

Low heat resistance PLA makes it susceptible to thermal degradation when mechanically recycled. That has led some companies to pursue technology to depolymerize the plastic to recover its base building blocks, for instance South Carolina company Zeus Industrial Products.

Bioplastic Recycling is partnering with a Taiwan company willing to swap out virgin PLA for Bioplastic Recycling’s recycled resins. The goal is to develop formulations to produce recycled film for cheaper than virgin PLA film.

Bioplastic Recycling is looking at following end products: agricultural films, garbage bags, plastic lumber, sheets and others. Chung and Neri co-founded a separate company, called reCircular, to market products created by Bioplastic Recycling.