UK-headquartered chemical recycling company Plastic Energy has entered into a strategic partnership with recycling technology provider Freepoint Eco-Systems and oil and gas company TotalEnergies.
Under this agreement, Plastic Energy and Freepoint Eco-Systems will build an advanced recycling plant in Texas, based on proprietary technology developed and patented by Plastic Energy. As a developer of advanced recycling systems, Connecticut-based Freepoint focusses on the recycling of waste plastic that are otherwise destined for landfill, using proven pyrolysis technology.
“The Texas project will reduce the need for fossil feedstocks, which results in carbon left in the ground, a more sustainable economy and a healthier planet,” said Jeff McMahon, Managing Director of Freepoint.
At the new facility, 33,000 tons of post-consumer end-of-life plastic waste will be annually processed into a recycled feedstock known as Tacoil, which TotalEnergies will then convert into virgin-quality polymers, suitable even for food-grade packaging applications, at its Texas-based production units.
Tacoil is produced using the Thermal Anaerobic Conversion process developed over the past 10 years by Plastic Energy. The technology allows formerly unrecyclable plastics to be effectively diverted from landfill or from being incinerated and instead to be recycled into a feedstock that can be used in petrochemical plants to make ethylene and propylene. The process heats plastic waste in the absence of oxygen until it melts and the polymer molecules break down into hydrocarbon vapour. The condensable gases are converted to hydrocarbon products while the non-condensable gases are collected separately and combusted to process energy. For every metric ton of end-of-life plastic waste processed, 850 litres of chemical feedstock Tacoil are produced.
The Texas plant is expected to become operational by mid-2024.
Plastic Energy currently has two chemical recycling plants that are in continuous operation in Spain, but the Texas project is its first in the US. It is a region that has ‘enormous potential for the plastic-to-plastic advanced recycling market’, said Carlos Monreal, founder and CEO of Plastic Energy. “Working with Freepoint and TotalEnergies, we will be able to recycle more plastics and reduce the depletion of natural resources, which benefits the circular economy.”
However, the present project is not the first on which Plastic Energy has teamed up with TotalEnergies: the two companies announced in September 2020 that they had entered into a joint venture to build a plastic waste conversion facility with a capacity of 15,000 tons per annum at the TotalEnergies Grandpuits zero-crude platform in France. That project is expected to be operational in early 2023.
“This strategic partnership in the U.S., following the construction of the first advanced recycling plant in France with Plastic Energy, are important steps in the development of the advanced recycling of plastic waste worldwide as well as in the U.S. specifically,” said Valérie Goff, Senior Vice President, Polymers at TotalEnergies.
“It will contribute to addressing the challenge of the circular economy and to achieve our ambition of producing 30% recycled and renewable polymers by 2030.”