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Issue 07/2022 Special Edition

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  • Carbon capture
  • Ccu
  • Renewable carbon
  • Advanced recycling
  • Chemical recycling
  • Wwwbioplasticsmagazinecom
  • Technologies
  • Chemicals
  • Renewable
  • Products
  • Recycled
  • Bioplastics
  • Plastics
  • Materials
  • Carbon
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Highlights: Advanced Recycling Carbon Capture & Utilisation

Technology New

Technology New world-scale plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facility Eastman Chemical Company Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently announced the company's plans to build one of the world's largest plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facilities at its site in Kingsport, Tenn., USA. Through methanolysis, this world-scale facility will convert polyester waste that often ends up in landfills and waterways into durable products, creating an optimized circular economy. Over the next two years, the company will invest approximately USD 250 million in the facility, which will support Eastman's commitment to addressing the global waste crisis and to mitigating challenges created by climate change, while also creating value for its stakeholders. Utilizing the company's polyester renewal technology, the new facility will use over 100,000 tonnes of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods to produce premium, high-quality speciality plastics made with recycled content. This process of using plastic waste as the main feedstock is a true material-to-material solution and will not only reduce the company's use of fossil feedstocks but also reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20–30 % relative to fossil feedstocks. "Eastman has been a leader in the materials sector for over 100 years and continues to be a valued partner to our state," said Governor Lee. "I'd like to thank the company for investing in Kingsport and its highly skilled workforce, and for focusing on innovative technology that enhances the quality of life for people not just in Tennessee, but around the world." Eastman was one of the pioneers in developing methanolysis technology at a commercial scale and has more than three decades of expertise in this innovative recycling process. Eastman's experience with methanolysis makes it uniquely qualified to be a leader in delivering this solution at a commercial scale. Polyester renewal technology will be an especially impactful solution, as low-quality polyester waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and would typically be diverted to landfills, incineration, or end up in the environment can instead be recycled into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end-use durable applications. "While today's announcement is an important step, it is just part of the company's overall circular economy strategy," said Costa. He added that Eastman is actively working on the next steps forward with its circular economy initiatives including partnerships and direct investments in Europe. This facility, which is expected to be mechanically complete by year-end 2022, will contribute to the company achieving its ambitious sustainability commitments for addressing the plastic waste crisis, which includes recycling more than 230,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually by 2030 via molecular recycling technologies. The company has committed to recycling more than 115,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually by 2025. AT 66 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

Not all plastics are recycled equally Floris Buijzen, Senior Product Market Manager Gerrit Gobius du Sart, Corporate Scientist TotalEnergies Corbion, Gorinchem, the Netherlands By Technology TotalEnergies Corbion has launched the world’s first commercially available chemically recycled bioplastics product. The Luminy ® recycled PLA grades boast the same properties, characteristics, and regulatory approvals as virgin Luminy PLA, and are partially made from postindustrial and post-consumer PLA waste. TotalEnergies Corbion is already receiving and depolymerizing reprocessed PLA waste, which is then purified and polymerized back into commercially available Luminy rPLA. Of the total estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of historic plastic production, only 9 % of the plastic waste (or 0.6 billion tonnes) have been recycled, or about 7 % of all plastics produced [1]. Clearly, the plastics industry is facing a major challenge to realize high recycling rates for all plastics, and bioplastics are no exception to that conclusion. Industrial composting is a well-established end-of-life option for PLA and is preferred for applications like tea bags and coffee capsules, allowing diversion of organic waste from landfill. In addition to its already established end-of-life options, different recycling strategies should be explored and advanced also for polylactic acid or PLA. Over the last years, TotalEnergies Corbion has been working on the different parts of the recycling value chain, from collection, sorting, and cleaning to reprocessing and reuse. Over the last years, numerous closed-loop applications have ensured enough volume to capture the value in recycled yet biogenic carbon on a commercial scale. In such applications, PLA is used in well-controlled environments, is collected after use, cleaned, and finally, chemically recycled. Through this process, biogenic carbon content is kept in the value cycle and reduces the need for biomass in the production process of PLA. Working in close cooperation with the recycling industry, PLA converters and reprocessors, such new PLA feed streams now enable production of increased volumes of commercially available Luminy rPLA at TotalEnergies Corbion’s Thai plant (with an overall PLA production capacity of 75,000 tonnes/a). The company is still working on increasing the availability of recycling volumes and welcomes new partners across the recycling value chain. For the European market, chemical recycling capacity is foreseen in the planned second facility in Grandpuits, France. Currently, Luminy PLA with a recycled content of 20 % is now offered to the market, using a mix of post-industrial and post-consumer PLA feed. Where possible, TotalEnergies Corbion is a strong supporter of mechanical recycling of PLA, but for certain applications, notably those requiring food contact approval, mechanical recycling, whilst arguably most favourable from an LCA standpoint, poses a number of challenges. To overcome the purity requirements for food contact articles, chemical recycling of PLA was developed and upscaled successfully. Contrary to traditional polyolefins like polypropylene, chemical recycling of PLA is much less energy-intensive, yet more selective. As they are not easily depolymerized, pyrolysis of fossil thermoplastics typically requires high energy inputs, high temperatures and produces complex, non-selective mixtures of products [2]. Regarding process selectivity, pyrolysis and cracking are reported to yield at most 19–24 % ethylene and 12–16 % propylene in addition to other chemicals and fuels [3]. PLA on the other hand is selectively broken down by different chemical recycling routes, including depolymerization, esterification, and hydrolysis to lactic acid [4]. These processes are highly selective and give numerous options to valorise PLA waste. Simply looking at the difference in necessary heat while comparing, for example, hydrolysis (possible at relatively mild temperatures) with classical pyrolysis (ranging from 300–900°C), it becomes obvious that these technologies are a far cry from each other in matters of energy consumption. Chemical recycling as such breaks PLA down to its basic building blocks lactide or lactic acid, which can then be transformed into PLA at virgin quality. One could therefore argue that chemical recycling of PLA is a more sustainable process than chemical recycling of some traditional polymers requiring pyrolysis. TotalEnergies Corbion has completed food contact, compostability, and biobased content certifications for its Luminy rPLA offering. A third-party certification of recycled content will be available as of June 2022 as well. An LCA study of Luminy rPLA with 20 % post-industrial and post-consumer waste is being conducted and will be published shortly. The goal remains to significantly increase volumes of mechanical and chemical recycling of PLA and to facilitate the transition to a truly circular economy. [1] KPMG (2019) To ban or not to ban. Available at: content/dam/kpmg/uk/pdf/2019/06/to-ban-or-not-to-ban-v6.pdf (Accessed: May 45h, 2022) [2] J.-P. Lange, Managing Plastic Waste: Sorting, Recycling, Disposal, and Product Redesign, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2021, 9, 15722 [3] Eunomia, Chemical Recycling: State of Play 2020, Petrochemicals Europe Market Overview 2021 [4] R. Narayan, W.-M. Wu, C.S. Criddle, Lactide Production from Thermal Depolymerization of PLA with applications to Production of PLA or other bioproducts, US2013023674 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17 67

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