How Agilyx wants to solve our plastic problem

The Agilyx recycling plant
Image from Agilyx
Tim Stedman
by Tim Stedman
30 September 2020

Plastics are a vital part of everyday life — used to make everything from medical equipment to mobile phones, cars, planes, food packaging and more. 

But today, only 10% of all plastics globally are recycled, condemning the rest to landfill -- or worse, the oceans.  

At Agilyx, we are working to change that, with better ways to manage plastic waste, to limit its impact on the planet, and to turn used plastic back into useful products.

Agilyx video

Virgin and Agilyx

Richard Branson and Virgin Group made an early investment in Agilyx a number of years ago, and the two companies share a commitment to helping solve our planet’s environmental challenges.  

Agilyx has an ambitious vision: to fully utilize waste, or post-use, plastic as a renewable resource -- creating a true circular economy for plastics, a material that we all have come to depend on in our daily lives.      

 Not just any old recycling

Advanced recycling is not the same as mechanical recycling, where waste plastics are chopped up and remelted – and which has inherent limits on the types of plastics that can be recycled, as well as the quality yield.

With Agilyx’s know-how and advanced recycling technology, even mixed plastic waste and difficult-to-recycle polymers can be used to make new, high quality plastics –for the most demanding applications like food contact. Agilyx uses pyrolysis to thermally break down the bonds of the polymer to their component monomers, which can then be purified and polymerized into new plastics.  This enables, for example, a polystyrene cup to be recycled into another polystyrene cup.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. A key challenge is managing the variability and complexity of materials and contaminants within diverse waste streams. With 16 years of deep expertise in chemical conversion, Agilyx has built extensive know-how and intellectual property around chemical recycling characterizations, analysing the relationship between thousands of plastic waste sources, processing parameters and end products.  

In Oregon, USA, Agilyx operates the only polystyrene chemical recycling facility with continuous operations and commercially contracted customers, certified by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC+).  

Engineering is underway for larger-scale polystyrene chemical recycling facilities in Illinois, USA, and Wingles, France.  And we recently signed an agreement with Lucite to design a facility to recycle PMMA Acrylic, which is used in protective sheeting and more.

Image from Agilyx
Image from Agilyx

Aligning with Sustainable Development Goals and more

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) have this goal:  By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.  Advance recycling technology will be critical to achieve this goal, and to support other SDGs as well, related to clean oceans, land and sustainable communities.

There’s a climate benefit too, because plastic-to-plastic recycling is less energy intensive than making plastics from fossil fuels. Compared to plastic made from crude oil, plastic-to-plastic recycled products are estimated to have a 50-70% lower greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. Advance recycling diverts plastics from going to incineration, and instead converts them into useful products for durable use and reuse.

With advance recycling, we have a real opportunity for true circularity, as outlined by thought leaders like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy

The Agilyx/Virgin Connection, Part 2

Agilyx’s connection to Virgin Group also extends through Peter Norris, Chairman of the Virgin Group, who we are privileged to also have serve as Chairman of the Board of Agilyx. Peter’s vast experience has been valuable in extending our geographic growth strategy, as well as becoming part of the community of companies aligned with environmentally and socially responsible investing.

We are grateful to investors like Richard Branson who, years ago, saw the potential for Agilyx as a game changer in the life cycle of plastics. 

This week, we celebrate the next step in our growth by listing Agilyx shares (AGLX-ME ) on the Merkur Market, a unit of the Oslo Stock Exchange.  

Thanks to our investors like Virgin Group, we have the capital to pursue our vision of making plastics circular.