Pure North Recycling has a clear purpose – to recycle plastic locally in an environmentally friendly process.
Pure North uses abundant geothermal energy to recycle plastics in Iceland instead of shipping the waste to mainland Europe or Asia, where it is recycled or all too often incinerated. The environmental benefits of local recycling and re-use are tremendous.
Icelanders dispose of 14,000 tons (40 kg/88 lb. per person) of plastic packaging each year, recycling between 11-13%. There is an exceptional opportunity to increase the recycling of plastics, reduce shipping, and save our oceans from unnecessary plastic pollution by using this plastic again locally within a circular economy.
Pure North uses geothermal wastewater in Hveragerði (45 km/28 miles from Reykjavík) to clean the plastic. This water is much hotter than the water used in Europe and Asia for recycling plastics and does not require extra energy to be heated up. Using such hot water eliminates the need for gas scrubbing or alternative chemicals in the cleaning process. Pure North uses geothermal heat to dry the plastics, and all the electricity used is also produced with renewables since they are based in Iceland.
Each ton of plastic recycled by Pure North saves 0.7 tons of CO2eq and 1.8 tons of oil compared to producing an extra ton of plastic.
Pure North’s processing technique sees additional carbon dioxide savings of 1.52 CO2eq per ton compared to recycling plastic in Europe or Asia, according to a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of plastic recycling at Pure North by Resource International.
Pure North currently recycles 2,500 tons of plastic hay-baling waste per year—the largest source of plastic waste in Iceland. It has plans to double its production to 5,000 tons by 2021. Ten large Icelandic companies have signed a cooperation agreement to recycle their plastic, including The Blue Lagoon, BM Vallá, Brim, CCEP, Eimskip, Krónan, Lýsi, Marel, Mjólkursamsalan, and Össur.
Pure North Recycling estimates that it can scale up production capacity to 20,000 tons per year—more than is currently imported annually. The company envisions a future where all the plastic in Iceland is recycled locally over and over.
This article originally appeared on Green by Iceland.