A Closed Loop Partners fund has received a $10 million investment toward rigid and flexible polyethylene and polypropylene recycling projects from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., a Japanese financial institution.
The funding is meant to accelerate projects in the U.S. and Canada through investment in infrastructure, equipment, municipal services, and “innovation and enabling technologies” for flexible film and other plastic types, said Masayuki Takanashi, Sumitomo Mitsui’s group chief sustainability officer, in a news release Tuesday.
The investment will be managed by CLP’s Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund, which focuses on catalytic debt and equity financing for projects related to PE, PP and flexible plastics. These plastics are “critical resin types that require additional investment to keep more material in circulation and help ensure that the industry's demand for recycled material will be met,” CLP said in the release.
The new round of investment comes as the U.S. recycling industry is facing increased scrutiny over what types of plastics should be considered recyclable and debates over how recycling infrastructure improvements should handle harder-to-recycle materials like plastic film. At the same time, major brands have made recycled content commitments for packaging, which the industry sees as a market driver for recycling infrastructure investments.
CLP says the new infusion of funding from Sumitomo Mitsui is a way to reduce bottlenecks in the recycling system, particularly for PE and PP. It counts the financial institution among several major corporations that have announced investments in some type of plastics recovery or recycling initiative in recent years, including Dow, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, Charter Next Generation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, SK geo centric Co. and SEE.
“This collaborative effort is key to advancing the recovery and recycling of plastics in the U.S. and Canada, at scale,” Closed Loop said in the release.
Last year, Dow and WM partnered on a curbside film recycling pilot program, a project WM said was spurred partly because of increased demand for most plastic grades. WM acquired a controlling stake in plastic recycler Avangard Innovative, now called Natura PCR, which will process commercial plastic film and shrink wrap.
Separately, NOVA recently announced it would produce a line of recycled PE from mechanically recycled feedstock.
Meanwhile, some companies like LyondellBasell and Chevron see opportunities in collecting certain kinds of “landfill bound” plastic for use in chemical recycling applications and believe demand will increase significantly in the near future.
The Circular Plastics Fund has made investments in several plastics recycling initiatives in recent years, including equity investments in Greyparrot, a AI waste analytics platform, and in the Closed Loop-owned Circular Services, which it says is the largest privately held recycling and reuse company in North America. It also offered a loan to Myplas USA to help the recycling company build a 170,000 square-foot plastic films recycling plant in Minnesota. Another loan went to the Waste Commission of Scott County, a solid waste district in Iowa, to finance new optical sorters for the county’s MRF.
The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund’s performance is benchmarked according to financial and impact outcomes like how many tons of PE and PP are involved and how many metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions are avoided or reduced, it said in the release.