Skip to main content.
Nicor Gas building

Aeternal Upcycling receives 2023 Nicor Gas Multicultural Innovator Award

Evergreen Climate Innovations and Nicor Gas partner to support underrepresented entrepreneurs making a positive environmental impact in Illinois

NAPERVILLE, IL – September 13, 2023 – In partnership with Evergreen Climate Innovations, Nicor Gas today announces Aeternal Upcycling as the recipient of the 2023 Nicor Gas Multicultural Innovator Award – a $25,000 equity and inclusion grant that supports clean energy technology startups with a minority founder or CEO.

“The Nicor Gas Multicultural Innovator Award aims to amplify and uplift the critical work of diverse entrepreneurs whose technology helps reduce our global carbon footprint and improve our environmental impact for generations to come," said Meena Beyers, vice president of Business and Community Development at Nicor Gas. “Our clean energy future depends on the novel discoveries and ingenuity of innovative leaders like Aeternal Upcycling.”

Aeternal Upcycling is the third recipient of the award, following Kazadi Enterprises (2022) and Celadyne Technologies (2021). In addition to the grant funding that will enable the continued development of its patented technology, Aeternal Upcycling leadership will also receive 12 months of business mentorship and leverage connections with investors and customers across the Evergreen Climate Innovations and Nicor Gas networks.

"We’re proud to continue our work with Nicor Gas to support climate-focused startups in our home state of Illinois," said Erik Birkerts, CEO of Evergreen Climate Innovations. "Scaling Aeternal Upcycling’s technology with this catalytic capital and business support opens the door for more companies to increase the circularity of their supply chains and reduce the amount of fossil fuels utilized to create plastic materials.”

Over 400 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, with less than 10 percent recycled and up to 350 million tons of plastic ultimately ending up in the landfill. Aeternal Upcycling’s patented technology aims to curb the plastic waste and carbon emissions crisis by converting single-use plastic into chemicals used for a variety of new applications and products. Their novel process, known as Hydrogenolysis, transforms plastic waste into key ingredients for packaging, cosmetics, lubricants, home goods, and much more. Aeternal Upcycling has the opportunity to potentially save millions of tons of plastic from carbon-emitting incineration and landfills annually.

"Our technology not only diverts plastic from entering the waste stream but reduces carbon emissions through plastic upcycling – creating sustainable alternatives where limited solutions currently exist," said Ryan Hackler, co-founder and CEO of Aeternal Upcycling. "Recognition and investment from industry leaders like Evergreen Climate Innovations and Nicor Gas affirms our commitment to provide a greener alternative to one of our most pressing climate challenges.”

A fellow at Argonne National Laboratory's Chain Reaction Innovations program, Hackler and his team bring over 20 years of materials science research experience to the climate tech playing field. While conducting postdoctoral research, Hackler invented Aeternal Upcycling’s patented technology before founding the company in 2022, with support from, and in close partnership with, the Argonne National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, including funding from ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. 

To learn more about Aeternal Upcycling, visit .


About Aeternal Upcycling

Aeternal Upcycling aims to reduce fossil fuel dependence, increase sustainability, and improve the circular carbon economy by upcycling plastic waste into higher-value chemical goods such as waxes, surfactants, and lubricants. Aeternal Upcycling’s patented technology converts single-use plastic waste into key ingredients for packaging, cosmetics, lubricants, home goods, and so much more. Our process leverages Hydrogenolysis to transform plastic waste, potentially saving tens of millions of tons of plastic from incineration and landfills every year. Learn more at

About Nicor Gas
Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.3 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 600,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit 

Media Contact:
Allison Gregoire