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“How does Schneider Electric boost PET recycling?”

Delphine Largeteau

Sustainability Consulting Director

Schneider Electric

Delphine Largeteau, Schneider Electric's Sustainability Consulting Director, answered the Go Circular team's questions about the Microwave-Assisted Depolymerisation of Polyester (MADE) technology for PET Recycling. She provided a detailed explanation of this technology at the Go Circular 2024 event in Cologne on April 16, 2024.

Source: Go Circular

The process is based on the hydrolysis pathway, breaking down PET into its building blocks, TPA and MEG. After this, the components are purified, allowing for direct polycondensation to recreate the original polymer. This technology is unique due to its microwave assistance which boosts the chemical reaction, making it faster. It's also electricity-based so, with access to green electricity, the carbon footprint can be significantly reduced.

This solution is optimal for PET that is difficult to mechanically recycle, including opaque, colored, and even textile materials. The technology is flexible, accommodating contaminants and producing high-quality, virgin-like products.

"We’ve MADE it OPEN! Pushing the boundaries of advanced PET recycling and automation" - Fabio Silvestri, Head of Marketing and Business Development, Gr3n and Delphine Largeteau, Sustainability Consulting Director, Schneider Electric presenting at Go Circular (April 2024)

Scalability is an important factor. This is especially true in pilot or demonstration mode, and when progressing to an industrial scale. The open automation concept allows for the development and control of applications that can be replicated in a plug-and-produce manner, eliminating the need for redesign. This is what made our geothermic reactors appealing – once the control for one reactor is designed, it can simply be copied and pasted for the other reactors.

The vendor-agnostic aspect provides flexibility, allowing you to choose your vendor. This approach opens up a lot more flexibility and is a breakthrough in automation conception, as it's not locked into a vendor or specific hardware.

Think of it as an Android on your phone; with this open platform, you can develop other applications, such as AI, to enhance the process and optimize it. Digital continuity will naturally follow. If you consider the digital passport that was also discussed, you can link it with other existing platforms like the blockchain. This is also an option.

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