JSE-listed chemicals group AECI has extended a €2.5-million convertible loan to international cleantech company Clariter to scale up its technology to commercial level.
Clariter uses upcycling technology that transforms plastic waste into oils, solvents and waxes.
In turn, these are used to make consumer end-products such as cleaning agents, leather conditioners, paints, wood and floor polish, candles, ink, mineral oils, shoe cream and surf wax.
The loan includes the option to participate in further rounds of funding of up to €10-million, as well as distribution and offtake agreements.
AECI says the companies may explore developing full-scale Clariter plants across parts of AECI’s existing geographic footprint, particularly in South Africa, but also in Germany and the US. The companies will also collaborate on the development of new specialty chemical applications and blends that have a green premium.
Since the products are decoupled from crude oil and refinery value chains, AECI believes they ensure business continuity and price stability. The products also meet US Food and Drug Administration purity standards and exceed equivalent benchmarks.
AECI CE Mark Dytor explains that the investment aligns well to the group’s internationalisation strategy, as well as provides opportunity for growing hard currency earnings.
“Simultaneously, we are shaping a better world through a commitment to better chemistry, which embraces the principles of green science and technology in developing, manufacturing, packaging and transporting industrial products and solutions.”
INSIDE THE TECHNOLOGY
With 370-million tonnes of plastic produced every year and only 16% of that recycled – 25% of plastic waste is burned and 59% goes to landfill or other uncontrolled locations – plastic waste is a global challenge.
Demand for plastic is also growing by 3% a year and global volumes are expected to reach 515-million tonnes by 2029, making the current waste trajectory unsustainable.
By addressing the circularity of the commodity, Clariter plans to upcycle two-million tonnes of plastic waste a year and thereby produce 1.7-million tonnes of industrial products a year, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly one-million tonnes by the end of 2028.
To achieve this, Clariter uses a continuous, proprietary and proven chemical upcycling process that overcomes the challenges faced by mechanical recycling.
These include being highly sensitive to the types of plastic suitable for processes and limitations on the number of times plastic can be mechanically recycled.
Significantly, Clariter’s process treats nearly all types of plastic, including polyethylene, polypropylene and some polystyrene, in mixed colours and quantities, and converts plastic back to original form to deliver drop-in ready replacements for product manufacturers.
The process comprises thermal cracking to convert plastic waste into a range of liquid hydrocarbons, hydro-refining to remove impurities and to form naphthenic and paraffinic hydrocarbons, and distilling and separating to distil fractions into stable products which can be blended into diverse products.
Clariter president and CEO Ran Sharon says circular, green products and processes have a meaningful role to play towards sustainability and a net-zero carbon future.
Clariter was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Luxembourg. It has operations in Israel, the Netherlands, Poland and South Africa.
The company has been operating an industrial scale plant in East London since 2018, with plans to roll out full-scale plants in Israel, the Netherlands and Poland in due course.