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Covestro Takes First Step to Supply Recycled-content Polycarbonate in Asia Pacific

The circular journey of the German resin supplier kicks off in Shanghai.

Stephen Moore

December 6, 2023

3 Min Read
Covestro site in Shanghai
Image courtesy of Covestro

At a Glance

  • Shanghai facility is first dedicated line with an annual capacity of 25,000 tonnes
  • Covestro commits to supplying 60,000 tonnes of recycled-content polycarbonates annually in Asia Pacific by 2026
  • Expansive range of recycled grades facilitates diverse applications

Engineering materials supplier Covestro has commenced operations at its first dedicated mechanical recycling (MCR) compounding line for polycarbonate (PC) at its integrated site in Shanghai. This line is set to produce more than 25,000 tonnes annually of premium-grade polycarbonates and blends containing mechanically recycled materials. Demand for post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastics is growing, particularly in applications within the electrical and electronic products, automotive, and consumer goods sectors.

"The launch of our MCR production line marks another significant stride in our journey toward achieving a circular economy and operational climate neutrality by 2035," said Sucheta Govil, chief commercial officer. "Plastic waste recycling is pivotal in realizing this vision, and through the expansion of our recycled plastics production capacity, we aim to lead the way in driving sustainability across diverse industries."

More than 60,000 tonnes annually by 2026

Covestro is committed to supplying more than 60,000 tonnes of recycled-content PC material annually in the Asia Pacific region by 2026. Recently, the company also transformed an existing compounding line at its Map Ta Phut site in Thailand for mechanically recycled PC.

"These investments enable us to meet the rising demand for PCR polycarbonates, enhancing our capacity and efficiency, said Lily Wang, head of Covestro’s Business Entity Engineering Plastics. "With new or repurposed capacity now operational, we are better positioned to assist our downstream customers in their journey toward more sustainable products, expediting the transformation of industries toward a circular and climate-neutral future."

Polycarbonate with 90% recycled content

Demand for PCR-content materials is surging on a global scale, driven by regulatory initiatives like the European Union’s proposed directive on end-of-life vehicles (ELV Directive), which sets strict benchmarks for the utilization of recycled plastics. Furthermore, industries like consumer electronics are poised to increase demand for recycled materials.

These market dynamics underscore the significance of Covestro’s recent developments in providing PCR polycarbonates. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a polycarbonate boasting 90% recycled content. This grade not only attains outstanding whiteness and highly saturated colors but also touts a sustainable feature — a 70% reduction in carbon footprint compared to its fossil-based virgin plastic counterpart. Achieving this remarkable accomplishment requires a meticulous selection of high-quality recycled materials and precise optimization of material composition during the compounding process.

Additional Asia Pacific expansions

After de-bottlenecking multiple production lines at the Map Ta Phut site, Covestro is nearing the final stages of a program to enhance polycarbonate production capacity and capabilities across the Asia Pacific region. This program also includes the addition of new production lines at sites in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China, as well as Greater Noida, India, in recent times. The combined additional capacity now exceeds 100,000 tonnes annually. These strategic projects, aimed at optimizing the regional production network, have been supported by using digital tools, which also reduced investment costs.

"In this way, we aim not only to meet the growing demand for polycarbonate in Asia, but also to offer our customers there an improved product quality," says Dr. Nicolas Stoeckel, head of operations in the engineering plastics segment. "Depending on demand, the upgrades can be used for compounding recycled or conventionally produced polycarbonate." Therefore, both projects are also about improving Covestro´s ability to produce more plastics with higher recycled content.

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 is a proud dachshund owner.

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