Eastman seeks to commercialize its methanolysis recycling technology

Leading specialty materials firm Eastman, headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, has announced that it will pursue the launch of circular recycling technology that uses polyester scrap that cannot be recycled using mechanical methods currently available. Using the process of methanolysis, Eastman says its technology breaks down polyester-based products into their polymer building blocks, which can be reintroduced to produce new polyester-based polymers.

In a news release announcing the launch, Eastman says it has more than three decades of expertise in methanolysis, making the company “uniquely qualified to be a leader in delivering this solution at commercial scale.”

The technology enables the recycling of low-quality polyester, or polyethylene terephthalate (PET), scrap that would typically be diverted to landfills into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end markets, including food-contact applications, according to the company.

“We recognize that plastic waste is a complex problem that needs advanced solutions. As we have engaged potential partners, it is clear there is high interest across the entire value chain,” says Mark Costa, Eastman board chair and chief executive officer. “Our long history of technical expertise in chemical processes, including methanolysis, and our leading position in copolyester chemistry, enables us to provide this innovative solution to address the growing challenges of plastic waste in our environment.”

Eastman says it is executing an engineering feasibility study on the design and construction of a commercial-scale methanolysis facility and has engaged in initial discussions with potential partners across the value chain regarding the development of such a facility. The company’s goal is to be operating a full-scale, circular recycling facility within 24 to 36 months.

The company says its efforts to find new end-of-life solutions to advance the circular economy align with its “innovation-driven growth strategy and commitment to create value through sustainability.”

“We believe we have an obligation to enhance the quality of life in a material way,” says David Golden, senior vice president, chief legal and sustainability officer and corporate secretary for Eastman. “As the desire grows for products that have a sustainable life cycle, Eastman continues to build on its heritage of world-class technology platforms and product innovation to offer solutions at the molecular level.”

Walmart makes plastic packaging waste reduction commitments

Walmart has issued a new set of plastic waste reduction commitments by leveraging its massive private brand program. The new commitments, announced at Walmart’s annual supplier forum, are expected to affect more than 30,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

According to a news release from Walmart, the move is designed “to help get to the heart of the problem by focusing on the retailer’s private brand packaging, building upon existing efforts to reduce plastic waste in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club operations and encouraging national brand suppliers to set similar packaging goals.”

Walmart announced that it will work with its U.S. private brand suppliers on a number of commitments:

  • seeking to achieve 100 percent recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging for its private brands by 2025;
  • targeting at least 20 percent postconsumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025;
  • labeling 100 percent of food and consumable private brand packaging with the How2Recycle label by 2022;
  • working with suppliers to eliminate nonrecyclable polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in general merchandise packaging by 2020; and
  • reducing private brand plastic packaging when possible.

Walmart says that during its annual supplier forum the company encouraged its national brand suppliers to make similar packaging commitments through the retailer’s Project Gigaton platform. Through Project Gigaton, which launched in 2017, suppliers can receive credit from Walmart for their sustainability progress.


Circular Polymers offers used carpet end market

Lincoln, California-based Circular Polymers says it is ready to supply the chemical recycling industry with consistent, high-quality feedstock made from postconsumer carpet and other forms of plastic scrap. Circular Polymers’ new facility in Lincoln, near Sacramento, can process some 15,000 tons of carpet per year, with the capability to expand further, the company says.

Circular Polymers is using carpet recycling technology developed by Elyria, Ohio-based Broadview Group International (BGI). BGI President Joe Bork says, “Our technology disassembles the carpet [and] then cleans the fibers, thus maximizing yield while providing superior quality. The technology processes all carpet types: nylon 6, nylon 66, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and polypropylene.”

David Bender, CEO of Circular Polymers, adds, “Chemical recycling is the solution to global demand for recycled feedstocks in a circular economy. Major brand companies working with chemical recyclers need clean, sustainable supplies of feedstock. We understand that chemical recycling operations require the conversion of waste into a raw material with strictly defined specifications. Circular Polymers is uniquely positioned to supply this growing industry.”

He continues, “With more than 25 percent of all recycled bottles getting downcycled into carpet and fiber, Circular Polymers has created a figure eight in the circular economy, enabling upcycling of carpet into bottles.”

Circular Polymers and BGI completed the Lincoln plant expansion in December 2018. “Circular Polymers expects to grow significantly to support our customer requirements,” says Nick Fiore, president of Circular Polymers.

Chicago-based PureCycle Technologies, described as an off-take partner of Circular Polymers, is commercializing a process designed to convert plastic scrap into virgin-quality resin. David Brenner, PureCycle chief integration officer, says, “What we need to make the circular economy a reality is innovators at all levels of the supply chain. What Circular Polymers has done with processing postconsumer carpet back into raw materials for chemical recyclers is not only revolutionary, but [also] an incredible model for us all, considering the large volumes of feedstock that are being landfilled today.”

Circular Polymers received a grant from the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) in December 2018 to add new BGI equipment to remove and separate the polypropylene backing from carpet face fibers. Bob Peoples, executive director of CARE, says, “Circular Polymers is now the leading innovator of carpet recycling technology and our fastest growing recycler. They are proving a circular economy is achievable.”