Germany-based revalyu Resources is investing $50 million to build its first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling plant in the United States. The chemical recycling site will be in Statesboro, GA.
“Groundbreaking for the first plant will be June 2023 and commissioning [in] Q3, 2024,” Vivek Tandon, revalyu’s founder, tells PlasticsToday. The 43-acre Statesboro facility will employ about 70 people.
Initially, the Georgia plant is expected to recycle and process more than 12 million PET bottles per day, transforming 225,000 pounds of PET waste into sustainable PET esters and recycled PET (rPET) chips. The company plans to ramp up to a recycling capacity of 450,000 pounds of PET per day at the new plant.
The new US facility will bring revalyu, which also has a PET chemical recycling plant in Nashik, India, closer to its target of recycling more than 2 million pounds of used PET bottles per day by 2026.
Revalyu’s glycolysis cehmical recycling process uses 91% less energy and 67% less water than conventional PET recycling.
The company’s chemical recycling technology uses low-temperature glycolysis to depolymerize post-consumer PET bottles into monomers. The monomers are then filtered to remove all impurities before being repolymerized.
A low temperature ensures the integrity of molecular bonds during depolymerization and lowers energy use and cost vs. high-temperature depolymerization. According to revalyu, its recycling process uses 91% less energy and 67% less water than conventional PET recycling.
In addition, revalyu uses mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), which is one of the two components of polyester, as a solvent. Thus, the process includes no chemicals foreign or toxic to polyester.
The result of revalyu’s recycling process is very pure, sustainable PET that can used to directly replace PET produced from petrochemicals. The quality of the rPET is quality equivalent to that of virgin PET.
The rPET chips from revalyu can be used to make new food and nonfood bottles, clothing, footwear, carpeting, soft furnishings, car seat belts, and in other textile applications.
Photo shows rows of of bobbins of polyester drawn textured yarn, one of the many value-added products made from the process.
According to revalyu, it has successfully trialed the conversion of its esters into biaxially oriented PET (BOPET) film, PET bottles, and other PET products.
The company has also developed and patented specific process conditions to transform very hot, low molecular weight ester mixture into a crystalline, flaky, nonsticky polymer — s-ESTER — that is easy to store and transport. The s-ESTER can be used as a feedstock in manufacturing sustainable end products in various sectors, including unsaturated polyesters and thermoplastics.
Tandon notes that revalyu has more than 20 granted patents and additional patent applications pending.
To date, revalyu has recycled 6 billion PET bottles at its India plant. The company was founded in 2007, and full-scale production in India started in 2014. “The focus of the plant in India has to date been the textile market,” Tandon says.
At the India plant, the company converts recycled PET into high-quality polyester yarns, including partially oriented yarn, drawn textured yarn, and fully drawn yarn .
The yarns are used in applications such as circular knitting, warp knitting, seamless knitting, weaving, mesh, fleece, denim, work-wear apparel, automotive, furnishings, and technical textiles.