Plastics Recycling and the Circular Economy: Catalytic and Compatibilization Solutions
A global boutique consultancy, we serve our clients in two ways: via client directed projects (TCG Consulting) and via various programs and studies (TCG Resources).

Plastics Recycling and the Circular Economy: Catalytic and Compatibilization Solutions


Proposal for New Multi-Client Study

A Substantial Role Will be Played by Catalysis and Compatibilization
In Addressing Plastics Recycling in the Circular Economy!

View Proposal Here (PDF format)

Plastics Recycling and the Circular Economy: Catalytic and Compatibilization Solutions

 There is an intense R&D effort being undertaken by plastics producers, industry consortia and academia globally to understand and appreciate the hurdles to be overcome and to economically resolve a serious improvement in the recyclability of plastics, which has taken center stage in a global debate. It is hoped that this will transform the way plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled in the EU and other industrial countries. China, the U.S. and Western Europe and other regions are pressing for sustainable solutions to plastic recycling and a drastic reduction of plastic waste to the environment. In this proposed study from TCGR, we will assist the plastics and polyolefin industries to identify new pipeline technologies and strategic commercial directions which will help speed up their resolutions to these challenges in an economical way. The study will address current state-of-art (SoA) in technology and commercial development, identify and address progress towards viability in two (2) promising approaches – notably catalytic and compatibilization – and provide strategic guidance on the competitive landscape and future investment. It is a “must have,” industrially-sourced assessment for addressing the current industry need from resin producers, process licensors and catalyst/compatibilizer suppliers from a practical perspective.

The current literature does an adequate job of defining “the challenge” from both a market statistical basis as well as the current plastics industry’s recycling status, i.e. the state-of art (SoA) in recycling technologies. What is clearly missing is a visionary industrially-oriented Technology Roadmap for the next 5-10 years that will concentrate R&D and commercial development efforts to speed up deployment, improving both efficiency and effectiveness of implementation, particularly in mixed plastics waste.

The missing factors to be addressed more fully are:

  • What new pipeline technologies for different segments, e.g. PET, polyolefins, mixed plastics, etc., are likely to be the best directions for producers and industry to pursue economically?
  • What do plastic producers currently think about this challenge, and what are their plans to address the issue? Without their support and input, the process will undoubtably be slower.
  • What likely country, regional and global regulations will impact each company’s decision making?

No one disputes this is a decade long challenge! The issues to be resolved go beyond technical to include economic ones, based on the commercial understanding that currently the collection, separation of physical plastics streams, and the conversion back to monomers or recyclable technologies as they stand to date, are not yet ready for “prime time.” In this proposed multiclient study, TCGR will take a lead in providing viable technological directions from both pipeline R&D and commercial strategy perspectives.

Two critical approaches to be analyzed in detail include the following:

  •  New Advanced Catalytic Solutions

The use of heteroatom titanates in this application is not new; in fact, Salvatore Monte of Kenrich Petrochemicals first published in 1973 and many papers have been widely circulated up to the present. Much evidence exists that both titanate and zirconate coupling agents act as a repolymerization catalyst in the unfilled or filled macromolecular melt to increase mechanical properties.

Figure 1. Points to the SIX FUNCTIONS of a neopentyl (diallyl) oxy, tri(dioctyl)phosphato zirconate
and why Function 1 COUPLING is different than silanes (Kenrich Petrochemicals, 2019).

The difference today, is that more advanced chemistry is available from organometallics since the metallocene revolution, back in the late 1980-1990’s. We intend to explore new catalytic chemistries, that can be even more compatible with today’s producer resins.

  • New Advanced Compatibilizer Solutions

Many industry papers have summarized commercially available compatibilizers including those from The Society of Plastics Industry or SPI (SPI, 2015). The current challenge is not available solutions but rather cost/performance ones for commercial recyclers. Also, one of the challenges is that each batch of mixed plastics has a different composition and most recyclers are not sufficiently sophisticated to be able to understand the chemistry to adjust to these moving targets within the field. No “one-size-fits-all” is a common phrase within the industry.

The benefits of aggregating the multiple approaches into one study creates an opportunity to extract and determine which approaches or pathways are most beneficial given the local circumstances, providing value to chemical (olefins and other monomer) producers and suppliers of different types of plastics.

Critical topics this study will address include:

  • State-of Art (SoA) in industry investments and partnerships in existence
  • New pipeline technologies in for the next 5-10 years, including benchmarking
    economics where available, key players, pilots and R&D investments
  • Regional outlooks based on market opportunities and regulatory drivers
  • Strategies for implementation

A key need/justification for this study, and one that TCGR is uniquely capable of delivering, is a comprehensive technical, market and strategic/competitive assessment of approaches to resolving the requirement for “circularity” in plastics.  This study is a “by the industry, for the industry” assessment and a “must have” for future success in the polymers industries globally!

This proposed multi-client study is scheduled for completion in Nov./Dec. 2019.

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Additional information, including the complete study proposal, the preliminary Table of Contents and the Order Form,
is available via the link below or by contacting John J. Murphy at +1.215.628.4447 or

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As it does in each of its industrially-focused multi-client studies, TCGR will seek input from “charter” subscribers (i.e., those who sign up prior to study launch, scheduled on or before August 23, 2019) to help shape the report’s final scope/TofC by nominating specific voice of customer and/or study content as well as delineating areas of particular interest for inclusion in the assessment, as depicted in Sections IV thru VII in the preliminary TofC.

 Download PDF

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 The Catalyst Group Resources (TCGR), a member of The Catalyst Group, is dedicated to monitoring and analyzing technical and commercial developments
in catalysis as they apply to the global refining, petrochemical, fine/specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer/elastomer and environmental industries.