Take a look at the story of Impact Solutions and their relationship with UKCPN & KTN and their BOSS technology platform.
The UK Circular Plastic Network caught up with Tom Rose, Innovations Director at Impact Solutions, to discuss Impact Solutions’s work and their Baffled Oscillation Separation System.
Hi Tom, could you tell us a bit about the background to Impact Solutions (what you do/what sectors you operate in/what makes you unique):
Impact Solutions is a testing and R&D organisation with a particular focus on plastics, composites and sustainable technology develop. Impact was formed in 2002 as a spin-off from BP Chemicals and quickly became a UKAS accredited laboratory supporting companies develop and test new materials and products. Since 2010, we have been proactive in contributing towards a more sustainable future by actively being involved in, as well as initiating projects related to the sustainability of plastics. One of Impact’s first internal research project in this area was the development of a recycling technology for mixed waste plastics call BOSS (Baffled Oscillation Separation System). This system can separate mixed ridged PP and PE in water achieving purity over 95%. BOSS has subsequently been commercialised by the Recycling company Impact Recycling, now operating plants in the UK and Europe and with plans for launching the technology in the US in 2021/2022. Impact Solutions have continued to develop new applications for this technology along with subsequent technologies to increase the use of recycled material in products and decontamination technologies for waste plastics, increasing their sustainability.
What inspired you to undertake this project?
The successful development of the BOSS core technology was a major leap forward in the industry’s ability to separate three dimensional plastics, such as packaging and overcoming key issues like sorting and separating black plastics. However, one of the waste streams still not successfully recycled at scale is films or 2 dimensional materials. These are typically a mix of multi-layer and single, or mono-layer, materials. When mixed they can’t be recycled but when separated the mono-layer materials in particular have significant value and end applications. This feasibility project sought to demonstrate the core BOSS technology, with modifications, could be used to separate these films for re-use. This project is particularly relevant now as there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of films and 2-D material passing into some waste streams due to the increased use of PPE. This new BOSS technology will be perfectly placed to help separate and recycle many of these films particularly from medical waste streams.
Have you benefited from receiving funding? If so, how did you use/how are you utilising this funding support?
This feasibility study supported by Innovate for investigating whether BOSS could tackle one of the most challenging waste feedstocks, multi-layer films, was essential to helping Impact undertake this work. The feasibility study allow us to rapidly develop a prototype system and in 3 months showed that the system could with modification deliver a process for separating mono and multi-layer films allow the mono layer material to be reused in new film applications. This technology is now being scaled up with construction of our first full size system underway and will likely be commissioning it mid 2021.
What has your experience been of working with KTN/UKCPN?
We do recommend KTN/UKCPN who do excellent work within the sector. They are open to taking on high risk, high impact technology that is key to delivering the circular economy. The team are highly supportive and are proactive in identifying potential partners and funding opportunities.
Where do you see Impact Solutions growing and do you have scope for expansion outside of the UK?
The BOSS technology platform has huge potential globally to offer a low cost process for separating otherwise landfilled or incinerated waste, allowing it to go back into high value applications. We continue to support the development of the technology with our licensee Impact Recycling who are looking to expand globally with a number of key partnerships in the US and Europe.
What’s next for Impact Solutions?
We continue to tackle plastic waste related problems, which means we are actively looking to expand the use of BOSS in fibre separation as well as other waste streams. We are also tackling another major problem within the plastic recycling supply chain that of decontaminating plastics. Impact recently develop and spun out a new technology called ReVentas for this purpose with the aim of building a pilot plant by the end of 2021.
As an R&D centre Impact are continuing to support companies developing new sustainable processes and materials including developing new biodegradable materials and supporting the industry develop new standards to quantify the amount of plastic recyclate present in packaging.
Find out more about Impact Solutions via their website here.