Advanced Recycling : Industry collaboration to further chemical recycling

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Three of the world’s leading companies in the plastic industry plan to develop a first-of-its-kind plastic waste sorting and processing facility in the Houston area. Cyclyx International, ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell see the new faciltiy as a critical missing link in the plastic waste supply chain by connecting community recycling programs to new and more advanced recycling technologies that have the potential to take a much wider variety of plastic materials.

The Cyclyx Circularity Center in the Greater Houston area will produce feedstock for both mechanical and chemical recycling. The center will leverage new technologies to analyse plastics based on their composition and sort them according to customer specifications for their highest and best reuse.

The commercial start-up is expected in 2024. The facility will be designed to produce 150,000 metric tons or 330 million pounds of plastic feedstock per year, supplying ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell advanced recycling projects as well as mechanical recycling markets. Total investment for the first circularity center is estimated to be $100 million, contingent upon a final investment decision in early 2023.

Advance chemical recycling

“To help increase the overall U.S. recycling rate and meet growing customer demand for circular products, more investment is needed by governments and industry to collect and sort waste,” said Dave Andrew, vice president of new market development at ExxonMobil. The company already runs an advanced recycling facility in Baytown. As of September 2022, the recycling plant has processed more than 6,700 metric tons of plastic waste. When the facility’s expansion is complete later this year, it will be among North America’s largest advanced recycling facilities, with an annual capacity to recycle 30,000 metric tons of plastic waste. ExxonMobil plans to build up to 500,000 metric tons of annual advanced recycling capacity by year-end 2026 across multiple sites globally.

LyondellBasell on the other hand has a goal to produce and market 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers annually by 2030. To deliver on this ambition, the company recently announced a new organizational structure including a Circular and Low-Carbon Solutions business segment and is strategically investing along the value chain. “This agreement is a perfect example of how collaboration across the value chain can help close the gaps to make a circular economy possible, such as access to plastic waste feedstock,”said Yvonne van der Laan, executive vice president of circular and low-carbon solutions at LyondellBasell.

Cyclyx has a goal of processing more than 650,000 metric tons of waste plastic per year by 2026. Consistent with this goal, Cyclyx is focused on its mission to help increase the plastics recycling rate from 10 to 90% by getting the right feed to the right technology, creating a new supply chain for waste plastic, and diverting post-use plastic from landfill. “With our capability to accept and process a wide range of waste plastics based on their chemistry profile which we custom blend to the needs of our customers, we are creating a new set of recycling options for difficult-to-recycle waste plastics that today are sent to landfill. Our circularity centers will allow us to make available a much larger amount of waste plastic into usable feedstock than has been possible with the current recycling infrastructure,” stated Joe Vaillancourt, CEO of Cyclyx.