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Eastman to Build World-Scale Molecular Recycling Plant in Tennessee

The Kingsport facility will convert polyester waste, which often ends up in landfills and waterways, into durable products, creating an optimized circular economy, said Eastman.

Clare Goldsberry

January 29, 2021

2 Min Read
Eastman's Kingsport facility
Image: Eastman

Eastman Chemical Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee jointly announced today that Eastman will build one of the world’s largest plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facilities at its site in Kingsport, TN. Through methanolysis, the facility will convert polyester waste that often ends up in landfills and waterways into durable products, creating an optimized circular economy, said Eastman.

Over the next two years, the company will invest approximately $250 million in the facility, which will support Eastman’s commitment to addressing the global waste crisis and to mitigating challenges created by climate change, while also creating value for its stakeholders.

“With the growing demand for products made with recycled content and the urgent need to address the global plastic waste crisis, now is the time for Eastman to take this step,” said Costa. “We are grateful for our partnership with Governor Lee in making today’s announcement possible.”

Using the polyester renewal technology, the new facility will use more than 100,000 metric tons of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods to produce premium, high-quality specialty plastics. This process of using plastic waste as the main feedstock is a true material-to-material solution, said Costa. It will reduce not only the company’s use of fossil feedstocks, but also its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 30% relative to fossil feedstocks.

Governor Lee commented: “Eastman has been a leader in the materials sector for over 100 years and continues to be a value partner to our state. I’d like to thank the company for investing in Kingsport and its highly skilled workforce, and for focusing on innovation technology that enhances the quality of life for people not just in Tennessee, but around the world.”

Eastman was one of the pioneers in developing methanolysis technology at commercial scale and has more than three decades of expertise in this innovative recycling process.

The new facility is expected to be mechanically complete by the end of 2022, and will contribute to the company achieving its ambitious sustainability commitments for addressing the plastic waste crisis, which includes recycling more than 500 million pounds of plastic waste annually by 2030 via molecular recycling technologies. The company has committed to recycling more than 250 million pounds of plastic waste annually by 2025.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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