Apr 06, 2022 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) -- A simple peruse around a supermarket makes it plain to see the omnipresence of plastics in the food supply chain. Retail products aren't the whole story, though. Plastics are ubiquitous in the wholesale food business too where polymers are integral to maximizing yields and efficiencies. From the nursery containers to water piping to greenhouses to pesticides bottles and everywhere in between, the food chain would come to a screaming halt if plastics were removed from the equation.
According to Cornell University (citing a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), agricultural value chains accounted for a whopping 12.5 million metric tons of plastic for plant and animal production in 2019, while another 37.3 million metric tons went towards food packaging.
While well-intended people rail against plastic straws and eschew other single-use plastics at the retail level, the fact is that waste plastics are an incessant and growing problem across the agricultural industry. Looking to stop billions of pounds of plastic from collecting in landfills, incinerators, or worse yet, oceans, innovative companies are developing real-world solutions to the mounting plastic pollution problem.
Aduro Clean Technologies /zigman2/quotes/207821548/delayed CA:ACT +1.35% (otcqb:ACTHF) is front and center with its game-changing Hydrochemolytic(TM) technologies to chemically recycle waste plastics in an Earth-friendly manner into modern resources. To grasp the value of what Aduro is developing takes at least some basic understanding of today's recycling technologies that have to a certain extent been a failed initiative because of high costs and inefficiencies.
Aduro's Hydrochemolytic(TM) process, which was developed in part through funding from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, is a major advancement, eliminating the need for large volumes of hydrogen, high temperatures and pressure to recycle plastics. Instead, Aduro utilizes unique properties of water in a chemistry platform to transform plastics into something useful, albeit a diesel-fuel or material that can be used to manufacture new plastic products, meaning a truly circular economy.
Last week, Aduro moved one step closer to making its vision a commercial reality, signing a Letter of Intent with Switch Energy Corp. with the purpose of developing, building, and supplying a pre-commercial pilot plant to convert waste agricultural polyethylene into high-value products. Switch Energy, a leading participant in Canada's agricultural and industrial film recycling program, is an ideal partner for Aduro as the owner and operator of the largest collection program from agricultural waste in the province of Ontario.
Switch Energy is much more than a collector of agricultural waste, it has deep experience in designing recycling and re-use processes, as well as offtake sales and marketing. Point being that if the pilot program comes off without a hitch, Switch Energy has the wherewithal to provide a stream of feedstock and spearhead downstream sales through existing channels.
The strategy is to initially process polyethylene from agricultural waste and later expand to process polypropylene and then polystyrene. The pilot will serve many purposes, including evaluation of the cost effectiveness and environmental benefits. Scalability is also important, but there is considerable value in proving a small-scale system because small operations aren't available with today's technology, which adds to pollutions and costs related to transport.
Finally, a system could go mainstream as an option for a rural farmer or at industrial scale for a juggernaut like Republic Services /zigman2/quotes/205979971/composite RSG +1.66% , Waste Management /zigman2/quotes/207732466/composite WM +1.75% and GFL Environmental /zigman2/quotes/214908404/composite GFL +0.50% . Imagine for one moment, an agricultural facility that has the potential to recycle 100% of its plastic waste to use for fuel integral to the farm's operations. Or a waste management company extracting value from the waste they collect by advanced recycling - converting those carbon molecules into valuable resources in a circular economy. That's a revolutionary type of paradigm shift.
The plant will be built in three phases, comprised of:
? Phase 1 - design and development of a pre-treatment process and unit to handle agricultural waste plastics, test runs, process optimization, and the provision of the feedstock required
? Phase 2 - design, building, and commissioning of the pilot plant
? Phase 3 - detailing the framework for expanding the pilot project into a post-pilot commercial phase
Switch Energy founder and CEO Don Nott said his company conducted an in-depth review of Aduro and the Hydrochemolytic(TM) technology, concluding that it is an ideal solution for agricultural waste in part because of its versatility and ability to overcome contaminates that are problematic for today's recycling centers.
"I believe that this will be the way forward in our sector and we like to see it successfully operating and expanding into other geographies," said Nott in a press release on the partnership.
Aduro is not only talking the talk; it is walking the walk. The company previously laid out its game plan, which included pre-commercialization pilots in 2022 to prove the merits of its technology. As explained by Aduro CEO Ofer Vicus, working with Switch Energy will help his team better understand items beyond the chemical process that are critical to commercialization and scaling, such as material handling, collection systems, pre-treatment, or washing. "We are very excited by this collaboration which complements Aduro's extensive technology and process expertise," said Vicus.
The companies intend to launch phase 1 immediately, which should have investors looking ahead for developments and, ultimately, commissioning, a significant milestone for any company.
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