Meet Eric, Co-Founder, Nexus Circular
Every day, Eric hears a giant sucking sound. But in a GOOD way! More and more companies like his are looking for used plastics to recycle into new plastics.
“So many consumer-packaged goods companies have said, ‘We want recycled content in our packaging.’ There’s a huge need for that material.”
But our nation’s aging recycling systems and technologies can’t recover and recycle enough plastics to meet that demand.
“Only a very small percentage of plastics are really recycled today, anywhere from five to eight percent, depending on the studies that you read. Most plastics are ending up in landfills. So there is all that material out there.”
Much of that is material which Eric’s company can turn back into plastics. To help meet demand. And keep plastics out of landfills and our environment. But with a technological twist.
“We take those used plastics, and we break them down into their molecular components. And that is what we then sell to our partners. They feed it into their systems and make new plastics.”
It’s called “advanced recycling.” It builds on conventional “mechanical” recycling that is more common today. Advanced recycling technologies can handle many difficult-to-recycle plastics that mechanical recycling typically cannot. And these technologies are spreading, thanks in part to Eric’s company and others like it.
As co-founder of Nexus Circular, Eric is helping tackle the >90% of plastics that don’t get recycled today.
“It makes us most proud that we discovered a way to address a significant problem. We are helping solve the problem economically, with scale. And you can do it over and over again.”
Meet Eric. One of America’s Change Makers.
Eric chose this business because he wanted to make a difference.
“So how did I choose this? First, it’s something I can explain to my mom. Second, it makes the world a better place, and it really improves what we’re doing in the world. Third, it’s really exciting. It’s complicated, right? I love puzzles, love trying to solve things that are complex.”
The technology his company uses has been around for a bit. His team applied it to used plastics and spent years refining the process.
“We’ve created a way to do pyrolysis, which frankly, has been around since the 60s. But we’re doing it in a way that’s economic and scalable. Pyrolysis is heat in the absence of oxygen. In essence, we are taking plastics, and we are breaking them back down to their original kind of molecular makeup. And in so doing, we allow that then to be reformulated into new plastics.”
This helps reduce the need for natural resources compared to new manufacturing.
“Now the way they generally make plastics is to drill for oil or natural gas, you refine it, you take a cut, you feed that into a process, and you make plastic. And the only difference is ours is coming from recycled plastic. And therefore you reduce the need to drill for the oil to do it.”
And Eric says his company is growing to meet demand.
“We are in the midst of building multiple plants in the U.S. and other parts of the world. And we are really addressing the U.S. plastic problem in a way that people get satisfied that this is an addressable issue. All those things equals success to us.”
And Nexus Circular is not the only company in the game. In the past few years, about $7 billion in investments in advanced recycling have been announced.
In addition to manufacturing, Eric spends time educating others about the potential of advanced recycling. And clearing up some occasional confusion over this new-ish technology, even in front of a Congressional committee.
“Some people confuse what’s being done in advanced recycling with things like burning plastics. What we do has nothing to do with incineration processes that involve combustion. With combustion if you light a match, there’s oxygen in the air, that’s why it burns. We have no flame, no burning that’s going on. We are in essence adding heat to the plastic and breaking it down without combustion.”
He and many others believe the circular nature of advanced recycling represents a true innovation in sustainability. As noted, Eric’s motivation is simple. And it appears to be transferring to generations to come.
“I’ve always tried to do things that are making the world a better place. And the next generation coming up literally right behind me and maybe a little further out, they are so psyched about this concept of recycling and making the world better.”
Thank you, Eric, for helping increase recycling which will make the world a better place.
We wish Eric continued success.