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LyondellBasell Accelerates Circularity Projects

The PE and PP supplier targets two million-plus tonnes of circular products by 2030, which would equal 20% of all the resin it sold in 2022.

May 29, 2024

2 Min Read
LyondellBasell booth at trade show
Image courtesy of LyondellBasell.

LyondellBasell has marketed 170,000 tonnes of recycled and renewables-based polymers since 2019, including 123,000 tonnes in 2023 alone. Its target for 2030 is two million-plus tonnes of such products. This would correspond to 20% of the PE and PP it sold globally in 2022. The company is confident that it can meet this target.

Recycling is a team effort.

LyondellBasell’s multipronged approach involves, in part, establishing mechanical recycling capability throughout the world. The latest such initiative was announced just prior to the recent Chinaplas show in Shanghai with the startup of a plastics recycling joint venture (JV) with Genox Recycling in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, in southern China. Guangdong Genox LyondellBasell New Material has a capacity of 20,000 tonnes annually and will serve markets including automotive, luggage, and medical devices with high-quality recycled plastics.

The China operation joins four other mechanical recycling sites operated in Europe by its joint venture with Suez Quality Circular Polymers. Europe is also the location of a Moretec process chemical recycling plant being constructed in Germany with capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year and startup scheduled for the end of 2025. The feedstock is used to produce CirculenRevive polyolefin grades.

Road to circularity under construction.

LyondellBasell’s Advanced Polymer Solutions (APS) business is an integral component of the company’s circularity drive, offering plastic materials for body panels, color material finish solutions (molded-in color), and compounds based on renewable raw materials. In a pre-Chinaplas press event in Shanghai, Rolf van Beeck, vice president, APS Business APAC and AFMEI, noted that approximately 220 projects in progress centered on automotive applications were part of its circularity growth funnel, representing 20% of total innovation projects and 30% of total volume.


Critical importance of closed-loop recycling.

One such project is the MaterialLoop closed-loop car recycling initiative. LyondellBasell’s van Beeck noted that closed-loop recycling will be of particular importance moving forward given impending EU regulations that will require 25% of the material in end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) to be recycled, of which 25% must be recycled in a closed-loop fashion. The first commercial circular part at Audi is a seatbelt component based on a chemically recycled CirculenRevive feedstock.

“OEMs exporting vehicles to Europe from China and elsewhere will be affected directly and indirectly by these regulations,” said van Beeck. “A possible outcome is for Chinese OEMs such as Geely, BYD, Li Auto, and Nio to set up shop in Europe, just like German OEMs established operations in China in the 1990s.” Added van Beeck: “We find the non-legacy Chinese EV makers can be more innovative in adopting new plastic solutions.”

Further, Europe will prohibit the export of used vehicles by 2030, thereby closing a potential loophole, while conversely potentially denying developing economies low-cost modes of transport.

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