Frequently Asked Questions
What do you produce and who are your customers?
We produce circular chemicals from waste plastics. Our proprietary technology breaks down the long hydrocarbon chains in plastics into shorter hydrocarbon fractions or into monomers using clean and efficient catalytic processes. Our process works at the molecular level, produces a stream of aromatic and olefin products, which can then be efficiently refined, extracted, and finished for our customers. Our primary outputs are the circular base chemicals Benzene, Toluene, Xylene and Propylene (BTX/P), which can be used on a drop-in basis by our customers to meet their circularity and renewable content goals in their manufactured products. Our circular chemicals can be used in a broad range of industries including consumer products, health care, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, and much more. Our products are of the highest quality and meet rigorous ASTM specifications.
How is your process different from mechanical recycling?
Mechanical recycling is currently the dominant recycling technique for post-consumer plastic waste. It is a process in which plastics are physically washed, granulated, melted, and often extruded into the form of pellets which are then used to manufacture other products. Mechanical processes are only effective for a few types of plastic, so their use is inherently limited. In addition, those processes cause the plastics to degrade in quality and color, so they can only be recycled a few times. Our advanced system can accept a wider range of plastic inputs (including unsorted and difficult-to-recycle plastics) and is therefore more effective in reducing waste streams that end up in the wrong places. In addition, our process does not cause the same kind of degradation in quality. It can be used repeatedly to produce virgin chemicals, which can then be used by our customers to make new products that meet high quality and color standards. Even though our process is based on established technologies, our application and management result in innovative outcomes.
If plastics are bad for the environment, why should we keep making more?
Historical plastic production and disposal systems have harmed the environment. Our landfills are running out of space and our waters and sea creatures are full of plastic waste. On the other hand, we are globally reliant on the use of plastic in just about every industry, including critical sectors such as health care. In addition, plastic is often used in ways that help the environment, like reducing the weight of cars, thereby increasing gasoline efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We think there is a way to keep using this valuable material while eliminating the negative consequences. By taking waste plastic and turning it into chemicals that can make plastic again and again without degradation, we eliminate the biggest problems with the old plastic industry: waste buildup and the need for endless drilling for new petroleum.
What is the Circular Economy?
The circular economy describes the next generation model of sustainable living on the planet. It refers to systems in which the waste product of one process is turned into, or used as, a valuable input into another process or system. Our process transforms waste plastics into the building blocks for a wide array of consumer and industrial goods. Once those goods are used, they can be put through our process again to be turned once more into those original building blocks. That is the circular economy. In Encina’s circular economy, the extraction of new resources is not necessary to make new things, and consumer products are no longer “trash” after a single use. The circular economy has the potential to transform our “throw-away” economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is allowed to regenerate.
Where are your facilities located?
Our existing facility in Texas is completing a final expansion now after five years of operations. This facility will be fully operational just after the new year. Our other North American locations are under progressive stage of development from preliminary site development to the commencement of permitting processes, and more. Based on growing demand, we have project locations under consideration for future development in Southeast Asia and are being invited to work with current partners on opportunities in Latin America.
How will your facilities impact the communities in which they reside?
It is important for us to be good neighbors and to contribute to locally thriving economies. At the outset, we expect the Northeast and Gulf Coast projects to each employ, over a period of 18 to 22 months, approximately 250 people per day. Peak employment will be approximately 400 jobs. Once construction is completed and the facilities are operational, a minimum of 70 permanent positions will be required on each site. Local supporting services such as machine shops, laboratories, third party maintenance, rail service, office equipment support, lodging and logistics support will likely result in an additional 150 to 200 positions locally. We seek locations with supportive local community partners such as technical schools, community colleges and universities to provide interns and trainees. The jobs created by Encina will include industrial crafts and trades as well as technology-based positions. We are creating career opportunities for people at a variety of skill levels and plan to nurture long-term employee careers within our organization.
How do you store and transport your products?
We will store and transport our products with an acute focus on the safety of our staff and community. Our products are stored using conventional fixed roof or floating roof tanks and product storage spheres. Each storage tank/sphere will have its own safety control system. The storage facility will be designed with the appropriate temperature, pressure, and level control systems along with a dedicated liquid retention berm. There will also be a dedicated fire suppression system designed to meet NFPA (the National Fire Protection Association) guidelines. Products will be loaded from the storage facility onto railcars, utilizing robust standard safety and environmental systems.
How do you manage safety for your employees and the surrounding community in which they work and live every day?
Our staff will be trained in accordance with strict safety protocols and will take all reasonable measures to ensure their own safety as well as that of their colleagues and the rest of their community. Because some of our facilities’ compounds are combustible or flammable, our facilities are also designed to be operated and maintained with the highest degree of safety in mind. For each facility, a detailed fire hazard analysis (FHA) will be performed to identify and resolve potential issues. The facility will be sub-divided into distinct zones in accordance with good engineering practices and guidance from API 2030 (relating to fixed water spray systems for fire protection and safety). The facility will be designed to accommodate equipment overpressure situations through a thorough HAZOP (Hazard and Operability Analysis) and the flares will be designed to control relief loads if needed.
Air emissions and discharges from our facility will be monitored regularly to ensure compliance with all applicable health and safety regulations. We will strive to meet or exceed requirements at the federal, state, and local level to protect our staff, our neighbors, our neighborhood, and the future generations for whom we strive to leave a cleaner, healthier planet.
What are the GHG impacts of your process?
Encina’s process provides a lower CO2e intensity for equivalent products produced from fossil-based production. In addition to GHG and LCA benefits, there are environmental benefits from the expanded range of recyclables that can be used in the Encina system, which reduces waste, and the ecosystem and community benefits resulting from the elimination of the need to drill for petroleum to make the products.