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Pyrowave, a Canadian firm started by chemical engineers, is making a business out of recycling plastic by bombarding it with high-intensity microwaves. 
The company’s name derives from the word “pyrolysis,” which means heating substances in the absence of oxygen so that they break down into their chemical components.
Typically, plastics being recycled are sorted, often by hand, then shredded or pelletized and melted, so they can be recast into new bottles, park benches, and other things.
That process is not only a logistical challenge but uses huge amounts of energy to make enough heat to melt the pellets and shreds.
In contrast, Pyrowave’s process uses electrical energy, not heat. That allows its process to use only 40 percent as much energy as conventional methods, the company says, which also reduces processing costs and, ultimately, the price that manufacturers have to pay for recycled plastic.
So far, Pyrowave concentrates on pyrolyzing polystyrene, a plastic used to make everything from computer keyboards to yogurt cups. The process should apply to a wide range of plastics, the company says.
Pyrowave has attracted the attention of tire maker Michelin, which has engaged the company to build a plant using microwaves to recycle tires – Pyrowave’s first commercial application.
TRENDPOST: Pyrowave is playing a long game. Virgin plastic remains relatively cheap, and the petroleum industry is counting on plastics manufacturers to keep oil companies in profit as electric vehicles displace gas buggies.
However, the combination of ubiquitous plastic trash, public pressure as the amount of microplastic in our food and bodies gains more attention, and growing demands for regulation will create a growth industry around plastics recycling.
As in any industry, technologies that are cheapest and easiest will take the market.

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