Licella on ABC 730 Report: Have Australian scientists discovered a recycling solution to our plastic problem?

November 12, 2019 | 2 mins read

Dr Len Humphreys, Licella CEO, was interviewed by ABC's 730 Report about recycling in Australia and the opportunity to transition to a circular economy.


This segment appeared on ABC’s 730 Report on 6th November 2019

Every year Australia throws out millions of tonnes of plastic… only a tenth of it gets recycled. Our current system is not sustainable.

Dr Len Humphreys, Licella Holdings CEO, was interviewed by Nadia Daley of ABC’s 730 Report about the the state of recycling in Australia and the opportunity to transition to a circular economy by investing in infrastructure, including chemical recycling.

“The responsible thing is for us to deal with our material here but we simply don’t have the infrastructure to deal with it.” Dr Humphreys said.

Licella’s patented Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) technology is a truly circular solution to problem plastic. Unlike other technologies, the Cat-HTR is able to chemically recycle mixed plastics without separating different plastic types, including End-of-Life Plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill, incineration or end up in our oceans.

“What we are doing is simply taking those materials and converting them back to the liquids and chemicals they came from.”

The Cat-HTR allows plastic waste to be recycled over and over again. The oil created from the process can be refined into fuels and chemicals, including the chemicals to make new plastics. In this way, chemical recycling is a truly circular solution for all plastic, including that plastic not able to be physically recycled.

In Australia, around “20-30 commercial Cat-HTR plants… would substantially help to make Australia plastic neutral.” Dr Humphreys said.

In a plastic neutral world, we could utilise the plastic already in circulation to make new plastics, and never have to make it from fossil oil again.

The challenge Dr Humhreys said is that in Australia “we’re not incentivising the market… we are really 5 to 6 years behind the thinking that’s really stimulating the market in Europe.”

Licella operates a large pilot plant in Somersby NSW and has done since 2008. The first commercial-scale Cat-HTR plant will be built next year by Renew ELP in the UK.

Licella is looking forward to progressing discussions with the federal government on how we can make the Cat-HTR solution a reality for Australia.


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