The race for molecular plastic recycling continues. LyondellBasell, one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world, has announced the start-up of its brand-new MoReTec molecular recycling facility at its Ferrara, Italy, site. With this new plant, the company aims is to industrialized its proprietary recycling technology to return post-consumer plastic wastes to their molecular form for use as a feedstock for new plastic materials.
"Ending plastic waste in the environment and advancing the circular economy are key sustainability focus areas for our company," said Jim Seward, LyondellBasell Senior Vice President of Research & Development, Technology and Sustainability. "With our advanced plastics recycling technology, we return larger volumes of plastic waste back into the value chain and produce new materials for high-quality applications, retaining their value for as long as possible."
The new plastic materials created by LyondellBasell’s MoReTec technology can be used in food packaging and healthcare items, which must meet strict regulatory requirements.
In July 2018, LyondellBasell announced a collaborative effort with Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to advance its molecular recycling efforts. This collaboration proved the efficiency of the MoReTec technology at laboratory scale and, in October 2019 the company announced the construction of the Ferrara pilot plant.
The pilot plant is capable of processing between 5 and 10 kilograms of household plastic waste per hour. The pilot aims to understand the interaction of various waste types in the molecular recycling process, test the various catalysts, and confirm the process temperature and time needed to decompose the plastic waste into molecules. The goal is to have this completed over the next couple of years and then plan for an industrial scale unit.