Delighted to have invested in Agilyx, an alternative energy company launched to convert plastics that can’t be recycled into crude oil. Every year over 200 million tonnes of plastic around the world ends up in landfill. In addition, many millions of tonnes end up in the ocean and on beaches where they can fatally harm wildlife and ecosystems as a whole.
Great ideas are often formed out of frustration and wanting to solve a problem. An increasing amount of materials like plastics are recycled back into materials again, but not everything can be. That’s a problem – and that’s what attracted me to the approach Agilyx is taking. Their technology can work with more unsorted and chemically complicated plastics that can’t be readily turned back into the base materials for plastic; yet it competitively creates a commodity for which there are markets today – markets that could do with a bit of disruption themselves!
At the moment the lifecycle greenhouse gases emitted from the Agilyx production process compete with those found in conventional oil extraction. There’s a benefit since the ‘raw materials’ (the plastics) are already in the system versus mining more oil out. However, this could be problematic long-term if you’re still taking oil out of the ground, turning it into plastic before then turning it into oil, burning it and releasing those emissions into the atmosphere. But the reality is we need to stop the millions of tonnes of plastic rubbish still going to landfill or ending up in the ocean every year. We should also try to create a way of cleaning up the plastics already in landfill and even in the oceans, poisoning and suffocating marine life, that the world could get behind economically.
Humankind needs to get over its addiction to fossil hydrocarbons. And where using hydrocarbons still makes sense, the world has to embrace ways of making them in sutainable ways that don’t involve upsetting the balance of the atmosphere and ocean. Mother nature figured out a long time ago that sourcing energy in a sustainable way and efficiently re-using and recycling resources is the way to go. It’s going to take time for all of industrial society to transition to a truly circular resource economy again. But we can get there, and Agilyx’s vision is a step in the right direction.