Chemical Recycling

New Japanese Chemical Recycling Alliance

SEKISUI CHEMICAL and SUMITOMO CHEMICAL COMPANY, LIMITED  have agreed to form a strategic alliance to benefit society by deploying technology for manufacturing polyolefin using waste as a raw material.

This alliance combines SEKISUI CHEMICAL’s production technology for transforming waste into ethanol with Sumitomo Chemical’s technological know-how in manufacturing polyolefin, thereby promoting circular economy initiatives to chemically recycle waste into polyolefin.

Pilot production will begin in fiscal 2022, with SEKISUI CHEMICAL turning waste into ethanol, and Sumitomo Chemical using this ethanol as raw material for polyolefin.

A full-scale market launch of this production method is expected in fiscal 2025.

Japan discards approximately 60 million tons*1 of combustible waste each year. When converted to energy, this equates to approximately 200 trillion kcal.

The amount of combustible waste is significantly larger than the amount of fossil fuels used to produce plastic materials in Japan (approximately 30 million tons*2 annually), which is equivalent to roughly 150 trillion kcal in energy.

However, the effort to reuse combustible waste is yet to be fully implemented, and most waste is currently incinerated or buried in landfills.

Recycling efforts have been hampered by difficulty in utilizing waste as industrial raw material, since the composition and quality of combustible waste varies widely.

In December 2017, SEKISUI CHEMICAL, in cooperation with a U.S. company, LanzaTech Inc., succeeded in developing a new production technology.

This technology enables gasification of combustible waste accumulated at waste disposal facilities into carbon monoxide and hydrogen without the need for waste separation, and converts these gases into ethanol using a microbial catalyst, which obviates the need for heat or pressure.

Meanwhile, Sumitomo Chemical has developed and accumulated, over many years in petrochemical field, proprietary technology and know-how, and is now developing technology to manufacture polyolefin from ethylene using waste-derived ethanol as a raw material.

This alliance will make it possible to introduce this waste-derived ethanol into the production cycle of organic chemical materials, such as daily-use plastics, and will enable the creation of a circular economy that uses waste as a raw material to manufacture polyolefin.

This will help us reduce the use of new fossil fuels, CO2 emissions from incinerating waste, and plastic waste, thereby contributing to a sustainable society.


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SEKISUI CHEMICAL and Sumitomo Chemical to Cooperate on Circular Economy Initiative Manufacturing Polyolefin using Waste as Raw Material


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