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Covestro Debuts Polycarbonate Based on Chemically Recycled Feedstock

The company has teamed up with Neste and Borealis to offer a high-purity, drop-in replacement for fossil fuel–derived polycarbonate.

Stephen Moore

May 20, 2024

2 Min Read
Lily Wang at Chinaplas 2024
Lily Wang, global head of the Engineering Plastics Business Entity at Covestro.Image courtesy of Covestro

Chinaplas 2024 in Shanghai saw the debut of Makrolon RP polycarbonate from Covestro, the first product in the supplier’s portfolio derived from chemically recycled feedstock. Covestro teamed up with refiner Neste and Borealis to deliver the attributed material targeting high-purity applications including use in the automotive segment.

Covestro views the European End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (ELV), which is currently under review, and the US Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) for electronic products as key drivers in generating demand for sustainable materials such as PC based on chemically recycled feedstock. Makrolon RP is a drop-in solution with identical properties, production, and product specifications as fossil-based polycarbonate.

Recycled feedstock from Neste converted into phenol and acetone by Borealis.

Neste provides recycled feedstock for the new polymers, which is then converted into phenol and acetone by Borealis before it finds its way to Covestro’s site to produce Makrolon RP. "Through chemical recycling, we can enable recycled content even for the most demanding applications," said Jeroen Verhoeven, vice president of Value Chain Development for Neste’s polymers and chemicals business. "Therewith, we can help companies across various sectors to achieve their recycling-related targets — and we are excited to see Covestro put it into motion."

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"We are very excited to expand our existing portfolio of more sustainable polycarbonates with this new product range, which marks another milestone in building the circular economy," explained Lily Wang, global head of the Engineering Plastics Business Entity at Covestro. "Together with our partners, we are already helping to conserve fossil resources and to give a second life to existing waste streams. We also support our customers in achieving their sustainability goals by providing materials that meet the highest purity standards."

Transparency in automotive.

Initial market engagement with automotive brand owners for a transparent application of a high-purity polycarbonate is ongoing and reportedly promising. Besides efforts to meet future regulatory requirements, more and more industries are asking for products with a specific proportion of recycled raw materials.

In addition to applications in the automotive industry, Covestro also wants to address key industries such as the electrical & electronics and healthcare sectors. The aim is to manufacture high-quality, durable products with chemically recycled attributed feedstocks. At the end of a long usage phase, the plastics can still achieve a "third product life" through mechanical recycling and the further development of chemical recycling technologies.

Array of sustainable polycarbonates on offer.

The new series complements Covestro's existing portfolio of more sustainable polycarbonates — the mechanically recycled Makrolon R products and certified mass-balanced grades of the Makrolon RE series, which are produced using bio-waste and bio-residues. The RE series is now also available with 25% renewable attributed sustainable share.

The RP series offers identical quality as incumbent fossil grades and belongs to Covestro's CQ family. The company uses this suffix to identify products that contain at least 25% alternative raw materials. At certain sites, such as Krefeld-Uerdingen in Germany, the plastics in the new range are also produced exclusively using renewable electricity.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

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