Eastman pushes ahead on commercial-scale circular recycling plant for polyester waste

circular economy conceptSpecialty materials supplier Eastman Chemical (Kingsport, TN) announced today its intention to pursue the launch of an advanced circular recycling technology that uses polyester waste.

Eastman is currently conducting an engineering feasibility study on the design and construction of a commercial-scale facility that applies the methanolysis process, which it helped to pioneer, to break down polyester-based products into their polymer building blocks. These building blocks can then be reintroduced to the production of new polyester-based polymers, delivering a true circular solution, said Eastman in a press release distributed today.

Advanced circular recycling technology uses polyester waste that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods, and as a result, often ends up in landfills and waterways.

Eastman was one of the pioneers in developing methanolysis technology at commercial scale and boasts more than three decades of expertise in this innovative recycling process. Advanced circular recycling technology can have a significant impact on sustainability, as it enables the recycling of low-quality polyester waste into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end markets, including food-contact applications, said Eastman.

“We recognize that plastic waste is a complex problem that needs advanced solutions,” said Mark Costa, Eastman’s Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “As we have engaged potential partners, it is clear there is high interest across the entire value chain. Our long history of technical expertise in chemical processes, including methanolysis, and our leading position in co-polyester chemistry enable us to provide this innovative solution to address the growing challenges of plastic waste in our environment.”

Eastman is currently engaged in initial discussions with potential partners across the value chain on the development of a commercial-scale methanolysis facility. The goal, said Eastman, is to be operating a full-scale recycling facility within 24 to 36 months.

“As the desire grows for products that have a sustainable life cycle, Eastman continues to build on its heritage of world-class technology platforms and product innovation to offer solutions at the molecular level," said David Golden, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal & Sustainability Officer, and Corporate Secretary. "Today, more than ever, the world needs innovation, and Eastman is excited about the possibilities we can achieve by working along the value chain, across industry sectors and with community partners to expand our efforts and make the greatest collective impact.”

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