Ioniqa, one of our National Icons, is developing a new chemical upcycling method. The end product is a high-quality raw material equivalent to new plastic from oil. This means that 25% of the world's plastic production can be reused indefinitely, with 75% less CO2 emissions. Thanks to the Corona Overbridging Loan (COL), the startup after the corona crisis is quickly out of the starting blocks again to clean up the growing plastic waste.
Ioniqa was founded in 2009 as a spin-off of the Eindhoven University of Technology, where all R&D takes place. "We now also have two production facilities," says Tonnis Hooghoudt, one of the founders. "These are located at Chemelot, the industrial complex for the chemical industry in Geleen, and in Rotterdam, where we are collaborating with Unilever in a demonstration plant. The raw materials we make using our patented process meet the highest standards. They're suitable for food-safe packaging."
Ironically, the faltering economy has actually made the plastic waste mountain bigger. It is currently cheaper to produce new plastic from crude oil than to recycle it. But that's a temporary problem, Hooghoudt thinks. "Under pressure from consumers, CO2 taxation and increasingly stringent legislation, all major manufacturers are working on plans to eventually become completely circular. Our technique closes the circle and will play an important role in the production of plastic".
"We have often been confronted with surprises in the development of our company. This crisis does not appear to be disastrous either. But with the Corona Bridging Loan we were able to avoid problems with our cashfow. The speed with which the scheme was announced and implemented has given us a lot of peace and quiet and room to breathe. I am really impressed by the diligence and ease with which the regional development agencies have worked together. I had a completely different picture of that."
Hooghoudt: "A crisis like this does make you think. Some changes will be permanent. But our plans remain unchanged. We are working on a process to be able to upcycle polyester from textiles as well as PET from packaging material. The factory in Geleen is also going full speed again. But that's just the beginning. Our goal is for manufacturers all over the world to build similar factories under licence. Getting our technology available worldwide, that's what cleaning up the plastic mountain is all about. The technique works. We've already shown that.