Chemcycling Plastic Battle

The ChemCycling Industry Unleashes The Armada

The Chemcycling Industry Unleashed its Communications Armada.

The following is based on an article published in the French newspaper “Les Echos”.

What is Chemcycling?

The most frequent form of recycling is physical recycling. Plastic bottles are physically shredded into small parts to be transformed into textiles (polyesters) for instance.

Chemcycling is basically using chemicals to dissolve the plastic waste instead of shredding it. Chemcycling consists of 3 chemical processes:

  1. Purification of plastic waste through dissolvement / dissolving / dissolution;
  2. Depolymerisation (the polymer structures are broken down);
  3. Thermic stage  (pyrolyse and gasification).

Plastic Energy

Plastic Energy (UK) is probably the leader in chemcycling. The company has two plants in Spain for a total capacity of 7.000 tons per year. The plants transform plastic waste into fuel and virgin plastic.

Two of Plastic Energy’s most important clients are Repsol and Sabic. Sabic buys “chemcycled” virgin plastic and supplies it to Unilever who plans to use it in “recycled content” packaging before the end of the year.

Future Plans

Plastic Energy’s CEO, Carlos Monreal, wants to build 20 chemcycling plants by 2024. 10 in Europe  and 10 in Southeast Asia. He needs to  raise €800 millions to build the plants.

Plastic Energy will build one plant in Geleen (NL) destined for Sabic. The plant will have a total capacity of 20.000 ton / year and should start operations in 2021. Total price of the plant will be €30 Million.

Plastic Energy aims for a global capacity of 200.000 tons / year by 2021 and 400.00 tons / year by 2024. They recently signed a deal with the island of Java (Indonesia) to build 5 plants.

France

There’s currently one chemcycling plant in France. It was built by Soprema and it transforms bottles and trays into isolation panels. Plastic Energy plans to build at least one plant in France.

Chemical Recycling Europe

In January 2019, a European Association was established under the name Chemical Recycling Europe with Carlos Monreal as president. Members of this association include : Gr3n (Swiss), Ioniqa (NL) and Renew ELP (UK). By the way, Renew ELP also strated building a plant in the UK (Teesside) recently.

European Commission (EU) is not convinced

Chemical Recycling Europe will have to convince the European Commission that chemcycling is a sustainable solution. The European Commission is not convinced because there was already chemcycling fiasco in Italy. VinyLoop established by Solvay was supposed to process 10.000 tonnes of PVC per year, but stopped its activities in June 2018 because it was not economically viable.

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Based on article published on Lesechos.fr