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Corporation
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES & EQUIPMENT | Recycling
rubicon.com

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Founded Year

2008

Stage

Loan | Alive

Total Raised

$285.71M

Valuation

$0000 

Last Raised

$7.5M | 2 yrs ago

Revenue

$0000 

About Rubicon

Rubicon is a Lexington, Kentucky-based software platform that provides smart waste and recycling solutions for businesses and governments worldwide.

Rubicon Headquarter Location

333 W. Vine Street Suite 300

Lexington, Kentucky, 40507,

United States

844-479-1507

Latest Rubicon News

Shredding with a sustainable target

Oct 18, 2021

Photo provided by Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. Shredding with a sustainable target Multinational PET producer Indorama is investing in shredding to help it reach its sustainability and circular materials goals. Thailand-based Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. (IVL), a producer of polyethylene terephthalate plastic (PET) and other materials tied to the PET supply chain, has pursued a strategy of global growth that has included considerable investments in recycled-content PET (rPET) production. The company’s global presence in rPET production may be unmatched, with the building of an rPET production and supply chain a high priority  of IVL Chief Sustainability Officer Yashovardhan (Yash) Lohia. The company’s investments in PET bottle recycling have spanned several continents, with this year marked in part by an increased presence in North America. This June, IVL announced and then completed the acquisition  of a former CarbonLite PET bottle recycling plant in Texas. In Europe, the company operates plants in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland, while it also has rPET capacity in Latin America in Brazil and Mexico. Asia also remains a target of IVL rPET investments, with the company announcing or completing new PET bottle recycling capacity in India  and Indonesia  this year alone. (A plant also is under construction in the Philippines.) The investments tie into an overall global goal of being able to recycle 50 billion PET bottles annually. Although IVL is exploring chemical recycling technologies, much of its current commitment relies heavily on the mechanical recycling of discarded PET bottles. That means shredding and other size reduction methods are a crucial component of its large-scale recycling process. The company chooses to keep much of its processing technology discretionary, but the IVL Corporate Communications department was willing to share some overall observations pertaining to its PET bottle shredding experience gained around the world. IVL says it acquires and shreds PET bottles of all sizes, with its systems able to accept different sizes of PET bottles as part of the same production process. Global standards and certification systems help ensure its recycling plants—including shredding and all steps before and after—produce desirable rPET. IVL cites “the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) developed by Control Union certifications” as “the most common one,” but also lists REACH [handling of chemicals I the EU]; OEKO-TEX and Standard 100 [pertaining to textiles and polymer fabrics]; SGS [pertaining to footwear materials]; and Ecomark [an Indian standard] as applicable at some facilities. For the shredding process, baled PET bottles are the most common feedstock. The bales are weighed and “strictly inspected to meet quality criteria by our experienced staff as soon as they arrive at the factory,” says IVL. The mechanical process “starts from opening the bales, sorting out other contaminants, including labels, with heat and washing with water to clean bottles before sorting other polymers from PET.” The sorting process can be the most investment intensive. “After sorting out compressed bottles from the bale, there are more than 20 steps to be taken. Key methods/technologies are deployed such as magnets and all-metal detectors, electromagnetic induction, label removing machinery, spinning sieves, near-infrared radiation sensors, spectrum cameras, sink and float water systems and centrifugal dryers.” The sorted PET bottles are then fed for size reduction to make flakes. States IVL, “All caps and other lighter contaminants are removed by a floatation method. They are then hot washed with chemicals and dried before being melted into pellets and used as recycled material.” Indorama does not disclose details of its shredding process, but a two-stage system most commonly relies on sturdy, slow-speed, high-torque shredders in an initial stage and higher speed granulators in the second stage. A 2019 custom publishing piece prepared for United States-based SSI Shredding Systems provides a glimpse of how first pass high-torque machines have been a mainstay for United States-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycler KW Plastics. KW credits shredders supplied by SSI with being able to “handle contamination that other shredders aren’t able to handle.” While bales of plastic bottles are supposed to consist of just that, the KW plant manager notes that contaminants can include “metal or big pieces of wood and other things in the bale that aren’t supposed to be there.” After primary shredding and sorting, a two-pass system then often turns to high-speed granulators or grinders. A 2019 Recycling Today feature article portrays the role  of such grinders at U.S.-based Mega Recycling & Compounding Services LLC. That firm recycles clean polypropylene (PP), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate and nylon, among other plastics. In 2019, its fleet of seven grinders was creating recycled-content output that was compounded into resins to be molded into plastic parts by its sister companies Mega Compounding, Mega Molding and Mega Polymers. Mega Recycling President Bret Garrison told Recycling Today in 2019 that the firm’s integrated recycling, compounding and molding operation “all starts with grinding. If we didn’t have the grinders, then the other three companies could not exist competitively in the marketplace.” Awareness of the devastating effects of plastic pollution has grown in the past few years. Companies and consumers have responded by promoting recycling programs, offering incentives to reduce and reuse waste and supporting recycling-centric legislation. But plastic usage and pollution are set to nearly triple in the next 20 years, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics; therefore, the shift toward sustainable materials is more important than ever for individuals and industry alike. Amid a public outcry for more eco-friendly and green options, brand owners are moving away from plastic packaging and have shifted toward alternatives, most notably, aluminum. Aluminum has long been touted as the beverage package of choice because of its infinitely recyclable nature. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are of selling water in aluminum cans as a part of their efforts to cut down on plastic waste. And at the Super Bowl in 2020, 50,000 plastic beer cups were replaced with aluminum alternatives. But plastic containers also have the potential to be a “green” alternative as companies are finding ways to incorporate recycled content into their packaging and create the infrastructure to achieve this. Will the future of recycling belong to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage containers, or will aluminum continue to have a strong foothold in the market, replacing more and more plastics and other beverage containers, such as glass and steel? The recycling rates for PET and plastics are extremely low in comparison with aluminum. According to the latest data published by the National Association of PET Container Resources ( NAPCOR ), Charlotte, North Carolina, the U.S. PET recycling rate in 2019 was 27.9 percent, down 1 percentage point from 2018, mostly because the U.S. is processing more plastic domestically, following widespread plastic scrap import bans across the world. Compare that with aluminum beverage can recycling figures from 2019 that show the industry recycling rate for beverage cans is 55.9 percent, while the consumer recycling rate for used beverage cans (UBCs) is 46.1 percent. Although these industry and consumer figures also were down from the previous year, largely because of production shifts, this packaging represents nearly half of the economic value of recyclables generated by a typical single-family home, according to the Aluminum Association , Arlington, Virginia. Economics of sustainable packaging UBCs generally are more valuable than plastic and help to subsidize the recycling of other lower value materials. In addition, UBCs are easier to recycle and are much cheaper and less labor-intensive than plastic to sort because of their uniformity. UBCs also are infinitely recyclable in a closed-loop process, which leads to greater recycled content in a beverage can than its plastic counterpart. However, half of all cans produced still head to landfills. In 2019, 50 billion cans ended up in waste streams, which equates to more than $810 million worth of aluminum, a major loss to the economy and the environment. When looking at plastic recycling, it is often seen as complex and confusing. Each municipality has its own rules about recycling plastic and which materials are acceptable as well as confusing rules for consumers, such as whether caps remain on the bottle or not. Contamination levels associated with plastic packaging also tend to be higher, and there is a lack of uniformity in terms of packaging design and production. All these variations lead to more work and greater costs. And for some plastic containers, the levels of contamination, or the use of multiple types of polymers, labels and dyes, don’t allow them to be mechanically recycled at all. Market dynamics Plastic and aluminum have value in the marketplace that depends on supply and demand trends. In June, the average price of UBCs in the Midwest was $1,692 per metric ton, while curbside PET bottle bales in the Midwest averaged $485 per metric ton, according to Platts data. Aluminum can supply also is fairly stable compared with PET bottles, with less extreme fluctuation in market value and greater profit margins along the supply chain. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, the price of PET bottle bales has fluctuated greatly because of supply disruptions in the virgin market and strong export demand in late 2020/early 2021. In July 2021, postconsumer PET bottle bales in California averaged $735 per metric ton compared with an average price of $198 per metric ton in July 2020, representing a nearly 271 percent increase year on year. Part of the reason for carrying a higher value is because the raw material cost for a UBC is nearly 25 to 30 percent more than a PET bottle of similar volume. While margins for aluminum processors might be higher than for plastic recyclers, brand owners see better profit margins for PET than for aluminum. It essentially costs more per ounce to make a 12-ounce canned soda than it does to make a 20-ounce bottled soda; however, these costs don’t always get passed along to the consumer as companies tend to charge more for the higher volume bottled soda. Environmental impacts of packaging production Another hot button topic is the environmental impacts of plastic and aluminum production. Whether it’s mining bauxite for aluminum or fracking for oil or natural gas needed in plastic production, both processes are detrimental to the environment. And considering that more cans are being recycled than bottles and, therefore, less virgin production is necessary, the production of one single aluminum can emits about twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as each plastic bottle. Aluminum is very energy-intensive to produce and has a higher carbon footprint, responsible for 11.09 tons of CO2 emissions per ton of cans, while plastic bottles account for only 2.2 tons of greenhouse gases, according to a 2016 study by the EPA. Cans have a higher recycled content, averaging 73 percent, compared with 6.2 percent in PET bottles, so it is hard to quantify and compare the total amount of carbon emissions for the two recycled products. Making beverage containers out of recycled products is clearly the most cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable solution for aluminum and plastic. Producing cans out of recycled content saves 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, while each unit of recycled PET that replaces virgin results in 75 percent lower total energy demand and a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to NAPCOR. Aluminum and plastic packaging have the potential to be more economical and more sustainable if companies choose to devote time and resources to making that happen. By replacing packaging composed of less widely recycled plastics, such as Nos. 3-7s, with highly recyclable aluminum, as well as incorporating a higher percentage of recycled content in PET plastic products, companies can further progress toward a greener world. Sarah Baltic is managing editor, Americas Aluminum markets, S&P Global Platts, and Sarah Schneider is editor, Americas Petrochemical markets, S&P Global Platts . The Michigan State University (MSU) Surplus Store and Recycling Center located on the campus of MSU in East Lansing, Michigan, recently installed a robotic sorter to improve safety for its workers. “Our main goal when purchasing this sorter was to reduce the risk of illness or injury at our material recovery facility (MRF),” says David Smith, the recycling director for the facility. “We’re not like a larger facility; we sort everything by hand, and this will reduce injuries that could pop up because of it.”  The recycling center primarily serves the campus of MSU. The 18,758-square-foot facility employs three full-time workers and 20 part-time students. The MRF processes up to 9 million pounds of materials annually, including plastic, metal, fiber and glass for the campus, Smith says. The sorter was purchased from Amp Robotics and can make 80 picks per minute. Smith says the sorter can learn about regional items not common in other recycling streams as well. This includes things such as the campus’ square orange juice refill containers, which are prevalent at MSU but not everywhere else. That information is then sent to a global database for the robotics to learn from and adapt to for future use. Smith says the facility bought the $250,000 sorter through a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Smith began researching robotic sorters two years ago when his manual sorters came across a bottle filled with a controlled substance. The bottle was removed safely, but if it broke, it could have had serious ramifications for the facility, Smith says. “We run objects down the line, and we hand sort it. Although we have a clean stream, we still get sharp objects or medical waste sometimes. We wear gloves that protect us, but we’re still vulnerable to cuts and other safety issues,” Smith says. “We don’t have many accidents.” Other reasons the MRF purchased the robotic sorter include increasing productivity, expanding the facility’s collection capabilities and improving recycling education for students and professors on campus. “We wanted to make this facility a living, learning laboratory for our faculty and students. We have some professors that are anxious to look at it and see how to incorporate it into their classrooms,” Smith says. “This sorter will also help us generate new streams for this facility.” The robotic sorter also helps ease some issues caused by the hiring crisis impacting the waste and recycling industry. Currently, the sorter serves as the MRF’s primary sorter on its plastic and metal line. “The sorters can replace up to four people working at the MRF,” Smith says. “Right now, we’re only replacing two of our workers, but that could change in the future.” Rubicon, a waste and recycling software provider based in Lexington, Kentucky, has announced it has hired Jevan Anderson as its new chief financial officer. According to Rubicon , Anderson will oversee the company’s end-to-end financial operations, including developing the financial infrastructure, teams and processes to augment the company’s growth. He will also become a member of the company’s executive leadership team. “Jevan is a valuable addition to our already established leadership team at Rubicon,” says Nate Morris, Rubicon’s founder and CEO. “He brings with him an impressive portfolio, proven financial leadership and M&A deal experience that will drive our continued growth both in the software and waste and recycling industries.” Rubicon says it’s helping its customers and partners move away from the legacy landfill model and toward circular solutions that slow the accumulation of waste and its harmful byproducts. “Rubicon is transforming one of the oldest industries in existence by digitizing one of the last unconnected markets,” Anderson says. “The waste created by businesses and private citizens accumulates with each passing day, and the entire Rubicon team is working hard to move our partners and customers towards more circular solutions. I am extremely excited to join Rubicon at this critical time and to help the company achieve its ultimate goal of ending waste.” Anderson has 30 years of experience in corporate leadership, financial advisory, investment banking, corporate development and strategy consulting. He comes to Rubicon from Finjan Holdings, a cybersecurity company based in New York, where he served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from The Stern School of Business at New York University. The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, has announced an updated version of the APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability for polyethylene (PE) Film Packaging. The new guidelines were developed by a working group of APR’s Film Reclamation Committee and reflect the consensus of film recyclers, converters and brands, the association says. “These changes are consistent with our efforts to ensure that the APR Design Guide has an impact as the essential reference document that brand owners can use to meet the demands and recycling standards for the global marketplace,” says Steve Alexander, president and CEO of APR. “With the surge of sustainability commitments by global brand owners, more detailed design guidance addresses an urgent need.” The revised guidance: Rewrites the base materials section to acknowledge the diversity of technologies that make up PE polymers and their impact on recycling compatibility. The new guidance addresses EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) copolymers and ethylene copolymer ionomers. The APR Design Guide also recommends a threshold for “preferred” materials of 90 percent PE at a minimum and copolymers by weight of the total packaging structure for full compatibility with PE mechanical recycling processes to maintain the quality and value of the final recyclate. Acknowledges SiOx and AlOx barriers as “preferred” materials and includes a robust discussion of additives and barrier coatings. Has an expanded discussion of inks, primers, coatings and laminating adhesives. Tested inks, primers, coatings and laminating adhesives that disperse in the final polymer without having an impact on postconsumer recycling (PCR) or final product quality are recognized as preferred. Features a more detailed list of additives, coatings and other enhancements to film packaging that requires testing to determine recycling compatibility. According to a news release from APR , the updates are part of a larger initiative to improve the capture and recovery of plastic film packaging supported by The Recycling Partnership’s Film & Flexibles Coalition. Other goals of the APR and The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, include encouraging more residential collection and recovery of films, developing design guidance for polypropylene films and researching the suitability of curbside recycling for film plastics. “PE film and flexible packaging is a fast-growing segment for consumer brands,” says Sandi Childs, APR director of films and flexible packaging. “The ability to measure compatibility with recycling is vital to keeping a clean stream of materials flowing to recyclers from retail store drop off bins and potentially from residential curbside collection in the future.”

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Research containing Rubicon

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CB Insights Intelligence Analysts have mentioned Rubicon in 5 CB Insights research briefs, most recently on Sep 30, 2021.

Expert Collections containing Rubicon

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Rubicon is included in 2 Expert Collections, including Unicorns- Billion Dollar Startups.

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Rubicon Patents

Rubicon has filed 65 patents.

The 3 most popular patent topics include:

  • Computing input devices
  • Fire service vehicle manufacturers
  • Waste
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