World’s first facility converting plastic waste to wax opens in Laois

Portlaoise plant can convert over 50% of plastic waste to wax used in personal cosmetics, candles and chewing gum

Trifol chief executive Daire Gilmore  with Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and Patrick Alley, founder and chairman of Trifol. Photograph: Julien Behal

Trifol chief executive Daire Gilmore with Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and Patrick Alley, founder and chairman of Trifol. Photograph: Julien Behal

 

The world’s first facility to convert plastic waste into wax has opened in Co Laois following a €12 million investment by backers including Dublin investment company Towerview.

Trifol produces ecofriendly wax from 100 per cent plastic waste. It can be used across a variety of industries, from personal cosmetics to candles and chewing gum.

The product, EnviroWax, removes up to two tonnes of plastic waste for each tonne of wax produced. The company can also produce wax ingredients for the production of synthetic lubricants.

The plant has the capacity to produce up to 3,500 tonnes of wax in its first phase and hopes to double that after the first quarter of 2020.

Trifol’s patented processes follow research at Queen’s University Belfast and subsequent testing at the University of Limerick. The company has been awarded three patents by the UK patent office for its process. Patents have been filed and are awaiting grant approval by the EU and US patent offices.

“Today is just a first step for our business,” said Daire Gilmore, Trifol chief executive. “Our plan is to expand on our site in Ireland, and several more in export markets over the next five years.

“We are now embarking on a new round of fundraising to finance the next phase of our development.”

Mr Gilmore added that demand for wax in the oil refining sector has led to regional shortages in some of Trifol’s target markets, “with demand for wax four times outstripping supply”.

Global shift

The company can process more than 50 per cent of all plastic waste including polyethylene, which makes grocery bags and shampoo bottles, and polypropylene, which is used for plastic parts such as in the automotive industry.

Trifol’s new plant, which will initially employ 16 staff, sits well with a global shift towards better collection and recycling of single-use plastics. Only about 9 per cent of the 350 million tonnes produced annually is currently recycled.

Speaking at the opening of the plant, Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said: “We are presented regularly with the stark visual evidence of what plastic waste is doing to our planet, and in particular our oceans. It is also now becoming a serious threat to public health.

“I am delighted that an Irish company is taking the lead in turning this environmental disaster into a commercial opportunity – creating jobs and, at the same time, providing a great boost for Portlaoise and the midlands.”