BASF to Incorporate Chemical Plastic Recycling Process in U.S. Manufacturing

Plastic broken down and pyrolysis oil made in chemical recycling process

(Credit: BASF)

by | Feb 22, 2024

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BASF has unveiled plans to bring products made through its ChemCycling advanced recycling system to market in the United States, and the company will implement its advanced chemical recycling methods used to make recycled plastic feedstocks at its TotalEnergies petrochemicals facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

BASF’s ChemCycling process uses chemical recycling to turn plastic waste and end-of-life tires into a raw material called pyrolysis oil. This oil is then used to replace fossil-based raw materials in a range of new products. Chemical recycling processes can recycle a wider variety of plastic products than mechanical recycling and may process mixed plastic waste that otherwise goes to landfills or is incinerated.

This chemical recycling method, or what BASF calls advanced recycling building blocks, allows for the incorporation of recycled plastics into a variety of BASF products currently manufactured in the U.S., such as super absorbent polymers, engineered plastics, or polyurethanes.

The company uses a mass-balance approach to incorporate recycled materials into its products — in other words, BASF integrates recycled feedstocks into its existing value chain. This strategy reportedly allows products to maintain the properties of conventional equivalents despite using recycled materials and allows products to be processed without creating an entirely new value chain.

Chemical Recycling Technologies May Address Plastics Recyclability

Only about 9% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled, and the plastics industry has recently been scrutinized for false claims over the ability of recycling to handle the large amounts of plastic in circulation.

With plastic production continuing to grow, chemical recycling has the potential to considerably reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. Along with its ability to process many types of plastics, chemical recycling also generates high-quality recycled plastics, reportedly of the same quality as newly-made materials. However, the method is still fairly new and will need to grow as mechanical recycling remains the dominant technology.

“New products from advanced recycling have the same properties as products using fossil-derived building blocks,” said Johanne Wilson, business development manager for ChemCycling at BASF. “Our customers can process Ccycled products in the same way as conventionally manufactured products for use in their downstream businesses including high-performance packaging and demanding applications such as automotive or construction.”

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