Sabic confirms the production of circular polymers in Europe at the end of 2022

Sabic confirms the production of circular polymers in Europe at the end of 2022

It is on its European site of Geleen in the Netherlands where it invited in preview the French press that Sabic has confirmed the start-up at the end of this year of its chemical recycling plantbuilt in partnership with Plastic Energy [1]. This will produce circular polymers accredited under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus (ISCC) program, from used plastic which, without any other solution, would have been incinerated.

Pilot realization for Origins

These new polymers – food contact grade – resulting from its “advanced recycling” process, to use Sabic’s expression, were used as a world premiere by Origins, a brand of the Estée Lauder group, for the manufacture of the his worldwide best-seller, Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask.

The tube was made from polyethylene-PE and the cap from polypropylene-PP, both from Sabic’s certified circular technology. Launched last year, this development, operated with Albéa, meets the objectives of The Estée Lauder Companies in terms of sustainable packaging, with in particular the increase in the quantity of post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials. The strategic partnership will reinforce Origins’ commitment to converting at least 80% (by weight) of its packaging into recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled or recoverable solutions by 2023. Origins’ long-term goal Natural Resources is to convert all of its mask tubes to recycled plastic by 2023.” Through the use of this innovative technology, Origins, The Estée Lauder Companies, Sabic and Albéa are accelerating the pace of development needed across the value chain to drive a circular plastic economy. “says the Saudi chemist.

The future is chemical recycling

On the Dutch site, Sabic has a circular plastics pilot unit in operation for two years already and an R&D laboratory to validate its customers’ developments. Other brands in the cosmetics sector should use these circular plastics for their future packaging. L’Occitane en Provence has just unveiled a new range of tubes made from ” of recycled content containing Plastic Energy’s Tacoil “.

Tacoil production is also carried out in Geleen, where the production cycle will be divided into three units. After dissolution, used plastics, mainly from Benelux, will be depolymerized by Plastic Energy using a thermal anaerobic conversion process at 600°C, with a processing capacity of 20,000 tonnes.

This process breaks the polymer molecules in two, one part transformed into gas to supply the plant, the other sent to the Pyrolysis purification unit from which the recycled oil obtained (Tacoil) is then sent to the Sabic steam cracker which uses it to produce circular polymers from its Trucircle portfolio. Based on existing streams and when they have been well sorted upstream, pyrolysis has a yield of around 70-80%, reports Sabic.

To those who doubt the quality of polymers from chemical recycling, Sabic replies that its process “ always relies on a good sorting system before converting used plastic into a high-quality raw material “. It can be used to recycle a mixture of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), including for example cosmetic packaging and multilayer packaging.

Reduced carbon footprint

Sabic uses “a mass balance accounting system to trace the flow of materials along a complex supply chain, from raw material to final product, following predefined and transparent rules. These rules then define the quantity of product that can be classified as circular”. According to the chemist, the process also saves CO2. ” Each tonne of certified circular polymer produced from recycled mixed used plastic (rich in polyolefins) diverted from incineration with energy recovery can avoid around two tonnes of CO2 emissions, throughout the production process “says Sabic.

The company conducted a life cycle analysis (LCA) [2] whose results indicate up to 2 kg of reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint per kilogram of PE or PP resin on the basis of energy recovery from used plastics.

For its part, Plastic Energy, which already operates chemical recycling in Spain in Seville, is continuing its development on this site with TotalEnergies and aims to commission a plant capable of processing 33,000 tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste by early 2025. In France, the company announces with this same partner the opening of a 15,000 tonne plant on the Grandpuits site for 2023, and with ExxonMobil, the construction of a 25,000 tonne plant on the Gravenchon petrochemical site.

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