Midland, Mich. — Dow Co. has joined leading European counterparts, including Sabic, BASF and Borealis, in using oil made from recycled plastics to produce new polymers.
Midland-based Dow announced Aug. 29 that it has entered into a partnership with Dutch sustainable fuel supplier Fuenix Ecogy Group to supply oil feedstock for Dow to produce new polymers at its facility at Terneuzen, the Netherlands.
Using patented technology developed in Germany, Weert-based Fuenix recycles plastic waste into oil. According to the company, the process yields a 65 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to alternative recycling methods.
Fuenix’s technology employs what it says is a unique pulverization technology and a hybrid heating system that converts waste plastic into liquid gas. The gas is then condensed into fuel or feedstock.
The agreement, Dow said in an Aug. 29 statement, is an important step forward to increase chemical recycling — the process of breaking down mixed waste plastics into their original form to manufacture new virgin polymers.
Polymers produced from pyrolysis oil are identical to products produced from traditional feedstocks and can be used in the same applications, including food packaging, Dow said.
The partnership is part of Dow’s strategy to enable a shift to a circular economy for plastics. The company has pledged to incorporate at least 100,000 metric tons of recycled plastics in its product offerings sold in the European Union by 2025.
“We believe plastics are too valuable to be lost as waste and should be part of the circular economy,” said Diego Donoso, business president for Dow packaging and specialty plastics.
For Fuenix, the partnership with Dow will offer the opportunity to scale up its technology.
“Our ambition is to ensure the value of plastic waste is fully used to create new, circular plastic while significantly reducing the global use of virgin raw materials and CO2 emissions,” Fuenix CEO Sirt Mellema said.
The two companies are considering a large-scale commercial plant for upcycling of mixed waste plastics to be located adjacent to the Dow facilities in Terneuzen. Discussions on an integrated value chain partnership, including a plastic waste management partner, are set to be finalized in the coming months.
The move toward the chemical recycling of plastic waste and the use of pyrolysis oil has accelerated in Europe over the recent months, as the region tightens its regulations surrounding the use of recycling plastics.
Late last year, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. announced a partnership with London-based Plastic Energy Ltd. to use the company’s patented TAC oil as a feedstock for polymers produced at its site in Geleen, the Netherlands.
Similarly, BASF SE used feedstock oil from a German company, Recenso GmbH, to produce some virgin polymers. Recenso has developed a process to convert mixed plastic fractions into processing oil. Its CTC process (catalytic tribochemical conversion) is a single-step catalytic liquefaction process using a combination of thermal, catalytic and physical forces for cracking hydrocarbon.
Austria’s Borealis also announced a collaboration with Vienna-based OMV for the use of the company’s waste-based ReOil in the production of virgin polymers earlier this year.