Renewable diesel producer Neste is now investigating ways to introduce liquefied waste plastic as a future raw material for fossil refining. The aim of the development project is to proceed to industrial scale trial in the course of 2019 and to process annually more than one million tons of waste plastic by 2030.
Using waste plastic as a raw material increases material efficiency, reduces crude oil dependency and the carbon footprint of any products derived from this, something the Helsinki, Finland-based company fervently supports.
"Neste has been ranked the world's second most sustainable company and we are already the world's largest producer of renewable diesel from waste and residues. Our target is to also be a leader in low-carbon refining and a support circular economy by developing innovative solutions based on waste plastic," says Matti Lehmus, Executive Vice President of Neste's Oil Products business area.
With some 27 million tons of post-consumer plastic waste annually generated in Europe alone, and a mere one-third of this currently being collected for recycling, there is a huge scope for improvement. Moreover, the EU has set a recycling target for plastic packaging of 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030.
“In order to reach the ambitious EU plastics recycling targets, both chemical and mechanical recycling need to be recognized in the EU regulation,” Matti Lehmus says.
Chemical recycling can create new outlets for plastic waste by enabling high-end product qualities, thereby complementing traditional mechanical recycling, but requires the development of technologies and value chains. To accelerate that development, Neste is looking for partners across the value chain.
The company is also exploring alternatives to fossil-based plastics and has been working on producing durable and recyclable renewable plastics from bio-based raw materials, such as waste fats and oils. Earlier this year, Neste and IKEA announced that commercial-scale production of biobased PP will commence in the fall of 2018 - a world first.