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BASF launches circular economy program

BASF has launched a new program to increase its avoidance of waste, reuse of products and recovering of resources, as part of the circular economy.

According to the company, by the year 2030, the company aims to double its sales generated through this circular economy to €17 billion.

To achieve this BASF reportedly plans to focus on circular feedstocks, new material cycles and new business models. From 2025, the company aims to process 250,000 metric tons of recycled and waste-based raw materials annually, replacing fossil raw materials.

According to experts, more than 1.5 million metric tons of battery cells from electric vehicles will have to be disposed of in the year 2030, as well as scrap from the production of cells and cathode active materials, containing resources such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. With battery recycling, these raw materials can be reclaimed and reprocessed. Until now, however, this process has been very energy-intensive or has created large volumes of salts that require disposal, BASF said.

The company is therefore developing a new chemical process that can reportedly recover high-purity lithium from the batteries with higher yields, preventing waste and reducing the carbon footprint compared to existing processes.

According to a study by consulting firm Conversio, only around 20% of plastic waste is recycled. In mechanical recycling, waste plastics are shredded and melted to make recyclate, which is then used to make new products, BASF said. However, repeated use and processing often damage the polymer chains so much that the plastic becomes brittle or yellowed, while plastic waste is often made up of a mixture of different plastic types which cannot be separated from each other. BASF plans to develop various plastic additive packages such as compatibilizers to help stabilize and improve the quality of recycled materials.

According to the company, its researchers are also working on improving its process to produce pyrolysis oil from mixed plastic waste by developing suitable catalysts.

This story uses material from BASF, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.

Publication date: 15/12/2020

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Last update: 2022-01-31