Petrochemical manufacturers create the building blocks for plastic, but with recent environmental policy at the forefront of industrial processes, companies have become increasingly more focused on reversing the process to turn used plastic products back into original monomers, advancing plastic waste recycling solutions.
Plastic products are used in many industries and there is little doubt that modern life has been improved by plastics, but every year we throw away more and more. Properly handling plastic waste has become a priority not only in the plastics industry, but also for the petrochemical industry as its largest supplier.
Several companies in the petrochemical sector are finding innovative solutions for the plastic waste problem and have implemented new recycling programs that turn the waste into valuable new resources. Some initiatives include:
• LyondellBasell partnering with Suez, a leader in advanced mechanical recycling, to form quality circular polymers.
• Eastman Chemical announcing its carbon renewal technology earlier this year, following its advanced circular recycling technology notice. This new carbon technology will help to divert waste from landfills by recycling complex plastics back to basic molecular components for new product development.
• Americas Styrenics, a Chevron Phillips/Trinseo joint venture with Agilyx, is working with technologies that convert waste polystyrene resin back into styrene monomer.
• Saudi Basic Industries became the first petrochemical company to announce investment in technology to convert mixed plastic waste into original feedstock. The project, and facility opening, is set for 2021.
Different types of plastics require different recycling processes, and some more complex structures make compositions difficult to recycle. One of the greatest benefits of the chemical recycling process is that can be repeated over and over without jeopardizing the strength and quality of the product.
Petrochemical manufacturers, who already transform oil and natural gas into monomers, polymers and plastic resins, are paving the way for advanced chemical recycling, changing what would otherwise be plastic waste into valuable resources, thereby reducing pollution.