Inside Honeywell’s Advanced Recycling Research

Honeywell UOP Riverside operations in McCook, IL, outside Chicago, are a sprawling industrial site that houses a large central laboratory and dozens of pilot plants for research and development. Between the operations here and another 30 miles north in Des Plaines, IL, there are 50 of these scale-up mini-plants. It’s where bench-top laboratory experiments are developed into processes and optimized, with the goal of becoming a commercial reality. “Processes scale from drips and drops to barrels,” says Kyle Austin, a 30-plus-year veteran at Riverside. “It all leads to risk reduction for innovation.” With patents for unleaded gasoline and biodegradable detergents and numerous others over the years, Honeywell continues to be a powerhouse of innovation that generates 100 to 150 patents yearly. All of which relate to the company’s core business: designing and selling custom catalysts for industrial processes. These days “innovation” means sustainability, for renewable fuels, for better batteries, and for plastics and packaging circularity. That was a special point of interest for PlasticsToday during a July 26 on-site media tour. The first stop was a pilot plant devoted to chemical recycling, which is largely synonymous with the broader category of advanced recycling. This was where the company’s UpCycle process was tested and scaled into commercial reality. Within the last two weeks PlasticsToday reported that Honeywell’s UpCycle Advanced Recycling Tech Enters China, and in January, the news centered on Honeywell’s plans to build an advanced recycling plant in Texas in partnership with Avangard. A few months earlier in November, Honeywell announced the UpCycle technology will be deployed in a joint venture with Spain’s Sacyr to transform up to 30,000 metric tons/33,070 tons mixed waste plastics into feedstock annually starting in 2023.

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