Major investments are under way to bring the consumer goods industry into the circular economy era. Eastman and Loop Industries have just announced new investments that are expected to significantly increase plastic packaging recycling capacity in Europe.
World’s largest molecular plastics recycling facility
Global specialty materials producer Eastman plans to invest up to USD 1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated.
According to Eastman, the investment would recycle enough plastic waste annually to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times, while also creating virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint.
Eastman also plans to establish an innovation center for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation center would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground.
The plant and innovation center - whose location has yet to be decided - are expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.
Eastman’s project has also garnered support from numerous brands, including: LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone are leading the way by signing letters of intent for multiyear supply agreements from this facility.
70,000 tons of recycled PET resin
For its part, the Canadian group Loop Industries, which specializes in the production of 100% recycled PET  plastic, is investing in its first European Infinite Loop manufacturing facility, in partnership with French environmental services group Suez.
The two companies have selected a 130,000 m² parcel of land in the region of Normandy in Northern France. The capital investment required for the project is expected to be EUR 250 million. Construction of the facility is expected to begin in 2023, with commissioning approximately 18 months later.
The new facility is designed to produce 70,000 tons of PET resin made from 100% recycled content per year. It will provide an opportunity for global CPG brands based in France to gain access to locally produced virgin-quality PET plastic and polyester fiber made entirely from waste material. At full capacity, the facility is projected to save over 255,000 tons of CO2 annually, when compared to virgin PET resin made from fossil fuels. “The majority of the incoming waste plastic feedstock for the facility is currently not recycled and contributes to the waste plastic pollution problem,” said Loop Industries in a statement.
“We are very pleased to know that Loop technology will soon be available in France to supply recycled PET plastic for our products,” said Jacques Playe, Head of Packaging & Development at L’Oréal.
Loop client and international cosmetics brand L’Occitane en Provence also voiced its support of the project. “This new Loop Industries plant in France will enable us access to locally sourced, 100% recycled PET plastic. The innovative technology they provide is a game-changer that can help us fundamentally contribute to solving the growing global concern about plastic pollution,” stated David Bayard, R&D Packaging Director at L’Occitane.