Scaling recycling to tackle plastic waste

Globally, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled. A first of its kind plastic recycling facility in Denmark demonstrates that this challenge can be overcome by processing almost half the nation’s plastic waste.
Quantafuel plastic waste recycling plant in Esbjerg
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), globally, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled while 22% is mismanaged. Each year, more than 350,000 tonnes of plastic waste is produced just in Denmark. The majority of this is incinerated and only about 100,000 tonnes is sent to sorting plants in Europe where it is not possible to trace where and how the plastic is used.
To boost recycling and reduce the impact of plastic waste, Norwegian pyrolysis company Quantafuel is building a plastic sorting plant in Esbjerg, Denmark, with the capacity to process 160,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually. The plant will be the first of its kind in Denmark.
The ambition is to source plastic waste from local suppliers to produce chemical components for reuse by the plastic industry, and ultimately increase the recycled content in packaging plastics. The process is based on a unique proven technology that uses catalyst systems to crack pyrolysis gas. The output materials are distilled into valuable products such as high-quality naphtha – a crucial component in the production of plastics.
Standard design for scaling in Europe
Ramboll is the Owner’s Engineer for this new plant and has collaborated with Quantafuel since the preliminary design phase. We provide consultancy services on all development and engineering aspects and handle Front-End Engineering Design (FEED), detailed design, tenders and construction management of the plant. Through our multidisciplinary expertise, we assist throughout all phases of the project from engaging with the authorities, site selection and dialogue with investors/partners to commissioning.
“Ramboll has shown that they, with their broad palette of advisory services, are the right partner to aid us in this journey, so that we in unison can help promote recycling, reduce CO2 emissions, and promote the circular economy,” Erik Rynning, Project Director at Quantafuel
During the preliminary design phase, it was Quantafuel and Ramboll’s ambition to carry out a standard design for the plant in Esbjerg, which can be used to build more plants of a similar design for recycling of plastic waste in Europe in the future.
A very high recycling rate
The primary goal of the plant is to sort plastic waste from Danish households, service and industrial companies into clean fractions for resale and processing by both mechanical and chemical recycling industries. This combination will lead to a very high recycling rate in compliance with the ambitions of both Denmark and the EU.
Utilising circular economy as a core principle for its unique catalyst technology, Quantafuel’s reuse of plastic to produce high-quality chemical components will not only significantly contribute to reducing plastic waste but will also be complementary to traditional mechanical plastic recycling.
The plastic sorting plant is expected to be operational at the end of 2023.

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