Plastics-to-fuel (PTF) Market

Global Industry Analysis (2017 – 2020) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2021 – 2025)

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Plastics-to-Fuel Technologies Complement Recycling Initiatives

Plastics-to-fuel technologies complement plastic recycling initiatives by converting non-recycled plastics into valuable products. These technologies offer the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60%-70% over new forms of crude oil extraction. Companies are transforming used, non-recycled plastics into fuel and petroleum-based products. These plastics-to-fuel technologies are being embraced as a way to recover clean energy from plastics that cannot be economically recycled.

Growing interest and investments in plastics-to-fuel technologies can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and generate fuel and other useful products to help power America’s transportation system and local economies. The end-of-life management option exists for non-recycled plastics: conversion of scrap plastics to either chemical feedstock or fuel. These conversion technologies rely on the processes of depolymerization and pyrolysis, respectively.

Demand Fuelled by Efficient Management of Non-recyclable Plastics

Concerns regarding excess landfilling of plastics, strict regulation on illegal dumping of plastic waste followed by enhancement of plastic recycling rates and government support and funding is expected to drive the demand for PTF technologies.  Also, fuel derived from PTF facilities provides an alternate way of generating fossil fuel from waste plastic stream.

Currently, efficient management of non-recyclable plastics such as polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), etc remains the key concern. More than 90% of plastic are still not recycled and are dumped, landfilled, or simple drained in the ocean. This means only 9-10% of waste plastics has been collected and recycled. This provides immense opportunity of plastic-to-fuel market as recycling of these waste plastics would generate non-recyclable waste plastics which can be utilized in PFT in the near future. Thus, recovery of non-recyclable plastics from recycling facilities and new/landfill sources is expected to boost the demand for PTF facilities.

Fragmented Waste Collection Systems Dissuades Proper Utilization of Plastic-to-Fuel Technologies

Key restraint includes weak waste collection system, declining prices of crude oil followed by COVID-19 outbreak, which has de-railed several PTF projects across the globe. Strong infrastructure and services required for proper waste collection, segregation, and sorting is still awaited in some nations. Also, segregation of plastics from overall waste generated each year is the key hurdle which may hamper the growth potential of PTF technologies.

COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the entire supply chain of waste collection, segregation, and disposal. This has created waste plastic accumulation.  During the pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) has driven increased plastic pollution. In response to high PPE demand among the general public and health care workers. At the regional and national levels, prioritization of human health over environmental health has led to the delay or reversal of policies aiming to reduce single-use plastic. Also, declining prices of crude oil during the pandemic has resulted in lower profit margins for alternate fuel produced through PTF route. Furthermore, due to lower price of crude oil prevailing in the market, the manufacture of virgin plastics from fossil fuels became less expensive than recycled plastics. As a result, due to lower profit margins, the demand for plastic recycling along with PTF has dropped, and the environmental footprint of plastics has increased.

Pyrolysis has an Edge Over other Technologies

Pyrolysis is regarded as a conventional technology for PTF. Also, numerous vendors of system and equipment parts are available in the market which minimizes breakdown and delays in operations. Pyrolysis is a thermal decomposition (normally operating at around 400 to 500°C) process occurring in the absence of oxygen. In pyrolysis, the treated plastic feedstock is often transferred into the pyrolysis reactor by means of a feed screw or a plug, to ensure oxygen is excluded. There are 3 products derived post pyrolysis process; a gas, a liquid and a solid, although the percentage of each can be varied dependent on the temperature and material feedstock.

Europe Leads and Expected to Remain Dominant by 2025

Europe dominated the market for plastic-to-fuel market. In terms of investments in PTF technologies, North America, especially the U.S. has been constantly laying regulations related to non-recyclable waste plastics. The country is expected to add more PTF facilities in the near future. On August 2020, UK’s first waste plastic to hydrogen facility near Ellesmere port in Cheshire, has taken a big step forward, with the completion of the front-end engineering design (FEED) phase.

Developed countries, especially those in Europe, have imposed landfill bans on plastic waste in order to recover and recycle plastic wastes. In 2016, 10 countries in the European Union banned the dumping of plastic waste in landfills. These countries recorded significant rise in the plastic recovery rate after the imposition of the ban. The key concern is the disposal of non-recycled plastic recovered after recycling process. The best way is to derive fuel out of the non-recycled plastics rather than landfilling. This is anticipated to drive the demand for PTF technologies in Europe throughout the forecast period.

In North America, the U.S. Government has several programs for the collection and sorting of plastic waste. However, the plastic recycling rate in the region is significantly low (below 10%). Thus, the region exhibits a high potential for plastic to fuel technologies in the near future.

Asia Pacific has high potential for P2F technologies. Asia Pacific houses several nations which are dominant producers and illegal dumpers of plastic waste. China is the leader when it comes to improper management of plastic waste. The country also imports tonnes of plastic wastes from other countries.

Global Plastics-to-fuel (PTF) Market: Competitive Landscape

Key players involved in plastics-to-fuel (PTF) market includes: Plastic2Oil, Powerhouse Energy technology, Peel L&P Environmental, MK Aromatics, PolyCycl, Klen Industries, Nexus Fuel, Vadxx Energy, Agile Process Chemicals LLP, Beston (Henan) Machinery Co. ltd., and Others. Peel L&P Environmental is planning to develop 11 facilities across the UK in the next few years and has the option of exclusive rights to the Powerhouse Energy technology in the UK leading to over 70 facilities in total.

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