Technological watch

Virgin plastics producer Dow goes circular

Dow has joined leading European counterparts, including Sabic, BASF and Borealis, in using sustainable feedstock oil for the production of its polymers in Europe.

The Midland, Michigan chemicals company has entered into a partnership with Dutch sustainable fuel supplier the Fuenix Ecogy Group, for the supply of pyrolysis oil feedstock for the production of new polymers at its production facilities at Terneuzen, the Netherlands.

Using patented technology developed in Germany, Weert-based Fuenix upcycles plastic waste into oil, which can be used as fuel or processing oil. According to the company, the process yields a 65% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to alternative recycling methods. 

Fuenix’s thermochemical Ecogy technology employs a unique pulverisation technology and a hybrid heating system, which converts waste plastic into liquid gas. The gas is then condensed, through a patented process, into fuel or feedstock.

The agreement, said Dow in a 29 Aug statement, is an important step forward to increase chemical recycling – the process of breaking down mixed waste plastics into their original form to manufacture new virgin polymers.

The polymers produced from this pyrolysis oil feedstock will be identical to products produced from traditional feedstocks, and as such, they can be used in the same applications, including food packaging, Dow emphasised.

The partnership is part of Dow’s strategy to enable a shift to a circular economy for plastics by focusing on resource efficiency and integrating recycled content and renewable feedstocks into its production processes. The company has also pledged to incorporate at least 100,000 tonnes of recycled plastics in its product offerings sold in the European Union by 2025.

“We believe plastics are too valuable to be lost as waste and should be part of the circular economy,” said Diego Donoso, business president for Dow packaging & speciality plastics.

For Fuenix, the partnership with Dow will offer the opportunity to scale up its technology.

“Our ambition is to ensure the value of plastic waste is fully used to create new, circular plastic while significantly reducing the global use of virgin raw materials and CO2 emissions,” noted Sirt Mellema, CEO at Fuenix. 

The two companies are currently exploring the possibility of building a large-scale commercial plant for the upcycling of mixed waste plastics, to be located adjacent to the Dow facilities in Terneuzen. Discussions on an integrated value chain partnership, including a plastic waste management partner, are set to be finalised in the coming months.

The move towards the chemical recycling of plastic waste and the use of pyrolysis oil has gathered pace in Europe over the recent months, as the region tightens its regulations surrounding the use of recycling plastics.

Late last year, Sabic announced a partnership with London-based Plastic Energy to use the company’s patented TAC oil as a feedstock for polymers produced at its site in Geleen, the Netherlands.

The company and its customers Unilever, Vinventions and Walki Group announced the launch of “certified circular polymers” based on TAC oil at the World Economic Forum in January.

Similarly, BASF is working with a German company, Recenso GmbH, to use their feedstock oil to produce virgin polymers. Recenso has developed a process to convert mixed plastic fractions into processing oil. Its CTC process (catalytic tribochemical conversion) is a single-step catalytic liquefaction process using a combination of thermal, catalytic and physical forces for cracking hydrocarbon.

Austria’s Borealis also announced a collaboration with Vienna-based OMV for the use of the company’s waste-based ReOil in the production of virgin polymers earlier in 2019.

Publication date: 29/08/2019

Plastic News Europe -Recycling

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Last update: 2019-05-09