Eastman to Build World’s Largest Molecular Plastics Recycling Facility in France

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Jan 17, 2022

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(Credit: Pixabay)

This morning, French President Emmanuel Macron and Eastman Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa will jointly announce Eastman’s plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle more than 176,000 tons annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated. The investment would create virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint.

Eastman’s project has garnered support from global brands who share its commitment to solving the world’s plastic waste problem and view molecular recycling as a pivotal tool for achieving circularity. LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone are signing letters of intent for multiyear supply agreements from this facility.

This multi-phase project includes units that would prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of first-quality materials for specialty, packaging, and textile applications. Eastman also plans to establish an innovation center for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation center would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground. The plant and innovation center would be expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.

A circular economy is key to addressing the global plastic waste crisis and the climate crisis, which have both been at the center of attention in France and throughout Europe. This long-term partnership between France and Eastman will contribute to the EU achieving its sustainability goals, by reducing carbon emissions and enabling a circular economy. France has demonstrated tremendous leadership by recognizing the vital role of molecular recycling and supporting investments in innovation.

Eastman says its proven polyester renewal technology provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today. This material is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled with existing technology. This hard-to-recycle waste is broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material without any compromise in performance. Eastman’s polyester renewal technology enables the potentially infinite value of materials by keeping them in production, lifecycle after lifecycle. With the technology’s inherent efficiencies and the renewable energy sources available in France, materials can be produced with greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% less than traditional methods.

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