French energy and plastics firm Total SA said May 19 it's exploring building a recycling plant in Europe with chemical recycling firm PureCycle Technologies Inc.
The companies also announced an agreement to have Total purchase some of the output of PureCycle's first recycling facility, in Ironton, Ohio.
PureCycle uses technology first developed by Procter & Gamble Co. to take plastic waste feedstock, separate color, odor and other contaminants, and then transform it into virginlike recycled polypropylene.
In a statement, the companies said they would "assess the interest of developing a new plant together in Europe."
Total said the agreement would also help it meet a goal of producing 30 percent recycled polymers by 2030.
"This partnership is an important new milestone for Total as it strengthens the group's position in chemical recycling," said Valérie Goff, senior vice president, polymers. "This first partnership in the United States opens new perspectives for addressing the challenge of the circular economy and achieving our ambition of producing 30 percent recycled polymers by 2030."
PureCycle plans to start construction of its plant in Ohio this year, where it will produce around 100 million pounds of recycled polypropylene a year.
The company has said that since its process does not involve depolymerization, it requires less energy than other technologies for chemical recycling and is more energy-efficient than virgin PP.
"The introduction of recycled polypropylene that can be used interchangeably with virgin resin will have an enormously beneficial impact on the global plastics circular economy," said PureCycle CEO Mike Otworth.
Total has announced other investments in recycling.
Last year, it acquired Synova, a French company that mechanically recycles PP for the automotive industry, and plans to double that company's production to around 80 million pounds by 2021.
As well, Total announced a chemical recycling development partnership in December with Citeo, Recycling Technologies, Nestlé and Mars.
PureCycle executives told Plastics News at K 2019 in Germany last year that the company is planning for 25 facilities around the world, each with a price tag of about $200 million.
Last month, PureCycle apparently became a merger target for a publicly-traded investment company, Graf Industrial Corp.
In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Graf, which was founded by longtime investment bankers, said it was interested in merging with a polypropylene recycling company.
Graf declined to identify the target company but provided a detailed description of the firm that mirrored PureCycle. A Graf executive said they believed access to capital markets would be the best way for the targeted PP recycling firm to grow.