BASF AG has dropped out of the race to recycle German waste plastics into chemical feedstocks. BASF, in a joint Aug. 3 announcement with the Duales System Deutschland GmbH, said it will not invest the 200 million deutsche marks (US$133.3 million) necessary to build a plant to process 330 million pounds of waste plastic collected by DSD.
BASF, based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, opened a pilot feedstock recycling plant in 1994 to demonstrate technology that turns mixed plastic scrap into oils to be used in its petrochemical crackers.
The $20 million plant processed about 33 million pounds annually.
The company had proposed building a 661 million-pound-per-year plant if DSD agreed to supply that much waste plastic, but later scaled those plans back to 330 million pounds, according to Eckhardt Parzich, a spokesman for BASF.
DSD, based in Cologne, Germany, chose instead to negotiate contracts with German electric utilities and steel companies, which offered to use the waste as fuel for their energy and steel production.
DSD has contracts with Rhine Westphalia Electricity, an electric utility in Essen; with Kohleol-Anlage Bottrop GmbH, a Dortmund, Germany-based steel company; and Bremer Stahlwerke GmbH, a steel company based in Bremen.
DSD's decision to bypass BASF may have been influenced by the gate fees various bidders for the waste proposed to charge for processing.
According to Parzich, the steel companies, for example, had proposed to accept the waste plastic and use it for their fuel feedstock for about DM200 (US$133) per metric ton, as opposed to BASF's proposed gate fee of DM500 (US$399) per metric ton.
BASF will continue to operate the pilot plant, Parzich said in a telephone interview.
``There is always the chance that in the future, should the amount of plastic waste made available for feedstock recycling be increased, that the company could undertake the larger facility,'' he said.