Upcycling and Microwaves – How Canadians companies are leading the way in Advanced Recycling

Clean technology innovators, Pyrowave and GreenMantra Technologies, have both patented technologies that transform plastic waste into specialty polymers or back to their original molecular building blocks, which can then be used to make new plastics, ensuring everyday products have a more circular life cycle.

Many of us have learned the hard way about which materials do and don’t belong in a household microwave. Sparking forks and the smell of burning tinfoil are memories you won’t soon forget. But, beyond warming up leftovers and making popcorn so you can binge-watch your favourite show in style, microwaves are also invaluable in the fight against plastic waste.

Innovative companies right here in Canada have made massive, innovative steps in harnessing the power of specialized microwaves to break down plastic waste into its original molecular building blocks. This allows plastic waste to be turned into a valuable commodity, one that can be reused and turned into different plastic products over and over.

One of these innovators is Pyrowave, the Quebec-based company that received $3 million from the Government of Canada for inventing clean technology that allows for the infinite recycling of plastics. This is an incredible breakthrough. Pyrowave is a pioneer of the patented plastic-to-plastic high-power microwave that breaks down plastics to be regenerated and restored to their molecular state, identical to virgin materials. The technology is packaged in small, modular units that can be used directly on site at recycling facilities.

In fact, an exciting milestone was reached recently when Pyrowave announced a new partnership with the Michelin Group that will accelerate time-to-market for Pyrowave’s innovative plastic waste recycling technology. The two companies will work together to fast track the industrialization of the technology with intentions to develop certifications for the technology and commercial roll-out in international markets. The joint development agreement will combine Pyrowave's expertise with Michelin's industrial know-how. Click here to read the press release

While different than using microwaves, GreenMantra is another advanced recycling technology leader that also uses a unique manufacturing process to transform plastic waste into a new material. GreenMantra’s technology “upcycles” your everyday household plastic waste and turns it into value-added specialty polymers that can be used to enhance performance in roofing, asphalt roads, plastic composites, and other industrial applications. With their technology, those single use plastics – things like plastic bags or bottles with very short useful lifespans - are put back into good use in construction and infrastructure applications with lifespans of 20-50 years… and these materials are still recyclable at the end of that long life! The company recently introduced another advancement involving that expands its technology to another type of plastic waste, post-consumer polystyrene. This extension will upcycle things like Styrofoam food containers and polystyrene insulation into specialty polymer additives for ink, coatings, and insulation. This newest iteration of GreenMantra’s platform earned the company $1 million in federal funding for winning a recycling innovation challenge. As we seek to develop green infrastructure, the use of GreenMantra’s sustainable specialty polymers and processing aids continues to increase in demand.

Both Pyrowave and GreenMantra have risen to the challenge to change the way we reuse and recover plastic waste. These companies have shown us that we truly can do more with plastics than we ever before thought.