Neste has successfully concluded its first series of trial runs processing liquefied waste plastic at its Porvoo refinery in Finland. Following the initial
industrial scale trial run with liquefied waste plastic in 2020, additional trials were conducted over the course of 2021. Next to providing insight into the processes’ impact on the refinery operations, the trials also showed that achieving circularity by closing the loop in the plastics value chain was no longer a far-off goal. Neste demonstrated that significant quantities of recycled raw materials could be upcycled into drop-in products for petrochemical use and is now developing the capabilities to upgrade even larger quantities of waste plastic into even higher quality feedstock. The plastic waste used for the trial runs comprised only mixed post-consumer waste that is otherwise hard to recycle. “In total, we have processed about 800 tons of liquefied waste plastic at our refineries in Finland,” said Markku Korvenranta, executive vice president of Oil Products at Neste.
The output from the trial runs is already finding its way into the polymers cycle as feedstock for new polymer products - with the same properties and the same quality as those based on fossil feedstock, making the feedstock suitable even for food packaging or healthcare applications.
The goal, said the company, is to process more than one million tonnes of plastic waste per year from 2030 onwards, which it aims to achieve through the further advancement of chemical recycling.
“There is strong interest in feedstocks from recycled raw materials in the polymers and chemicals market,” said Mercedes Alonso, executive vice president, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals at Neste. “By processing liquefied waste plastic and upgrading waste into valuable resources, we thereby not only contribute to combating the plastic pollution challenge, but we also provide chemical and polymer companies with the means to advance the circular economy.”
To do so at a larger scale going forward, will require regulatory support, and more specifically, the acceptance of chemical recycling as a complementary technology to achieve ambitious recycling targets, she added.
Meanwhile, the trial runs indicate a value chain that can contribute to processing larger volumes of plastic waste in due course.
“With the latest trial runs in Porvoo, we are laying the foundation for replacing crude oil based raw materials with liquefied waste plastic and strengthening circularity together with our customers. Based on the successful trials, we can conclude that liquefied waste plastics is a viable alternative for fossil raw material. In order to gain the necessary confidence needed for larger-scale production, further trials with larger volumes are still needed, and runs with increased volumes will continue in 2022,” said Korvenranta.