Turning waste into feedstock - recycling solution from AES

Celine Jörns

Startup Stories

The processing industry faces the problem that large amounts of plastic waste are not mechanically recyclable. This waste is often incinerated or disposed of in landfills, causing both environmental and economic problems. The startup AES Autonome Energiesysteme has found a solution to this problem. It offers plants for the chemical recycling of this non-recyclable plastic waste, which convert the waste into an oil mixture. In this way, AES closes the recycling loop sustainably and offers a cost-effective alternative for the plastics industry. In this interview, CEO Jonas Bonus explains how the startup was founded and why chemical companies should set up a pilot project with AES.

The AES Team 

How would you explain your solution in three sentences to a professional colleague in a chemical company? 

We offer plants for customized chemical recycling of mechanically non-recyclable plastic residues from the plastics processing industry. The plants are realized locally, i.e. on the company premises or at the local recycling company in a container design. These containers convert the waste into an oil mixture, which is resold to our refinery partners.

What problem motivated you to start the company?

In the beginning, it was the dissatisfaction of one of our founders that the baby and diaper waste he generates is not getting recycled. This quickly developed into the idea of finding solutions for previously non-recyclable waste. Finally, we found our place in the plastics industry, where we can realize our vision of an industry in which no production waste is incinerated, but the hydrocarbons it contains are recycled.

How do you convince a chemical company to set up a pilot project with you?

The chemical industry is not only faced with the challenge of procuring the energy required for processes and procedures sustainably and at low cost. It is also important to find a sustainable feedstock for basic chemicals. How do we manufacture chemical products if the carbon they contain can no longer be procured via fossil feedstocks? We offer the chemical industry a feedstock for hydrocarbons that does not rely on energy-intensive procedures such as extraction from the air or biomass usage. We offer a cost-effective alternative, which not only solves the problem of the feedstock for basic chemicals, but also that for waste from the plastics industry, which is also a customer of the chemical industry. We close the recycling loops created here in a sustainable way. We reprocess non-recyclable plastic residues from the industry into oil and achieve maximum oil qualities with small tailor-made plants. While other companies focus primarily on the large market of post-consumer waste (with all the accompanying substances reducing the quality), AES focuses on individual material streams and prepares them optimally. The costly plastic waste logistics are avoided, CO2 is saved and the customer participates. We do not need bright brochures, because our plants are already running. Partner with us and create a sustainable feedstock for your industry.

Who are your current customer (groups) and who do you want your potential customers to be?

Our target industries are the manufacturing industry, especially in the plastics sector. In this sector, more than 900,000 tons of plastic waste are generated per year in Europe. We focus on plastics that have not been recyclable up to now, because they can no longer be mechanically recycled due to impurities (inseparable, glued, oil residues, etc.). The technology can be easily transported and installed anywhere in the world due to the container design. Currently our customers are in the DACH region. The first projects are currently being planned and implemented with our customers.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years and how can 5-HT support you?

In three years, we want to have the first large-scale plants in operation. "Large" in this case means that several of our standard plants (1000kg/day) will be connected together. For this purpose, we already have 3-4 projects in a planning stage. The first of these plants should be in operation by Q2 2024. By the end of 2025, we aim to turn over 30 tons of oil per day. 
5-HT can support us in connecting us to interested parties for our current round of financing, as well as in the area of network and cooperation partners.

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