LyondellBasell announced the start-up of its MoReTec molecular recycling facility at its Ferrara, Italy, site. LyondellBasell’s proprietary MoReTec advanced recycling technology aims to return post-consumer plastic waste to its molecular form for use as a feedstock for new plastic materials. The technique allows using the new plastic material in food packaging and healthcare items, which must meet strict regulatory requirements. The efficiency of the MoReTec technology at laboratory scale had been proved in a collaboration with Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
The pilot plant is capable of processing between 5 and 10 kg of household plastic waste per hour. The pilot aims to understand the interaction of various waste types in the molecular recycling process, test 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.
The MoReTec technology development complements the company’s other circular solutions, which help reduce plastic waste and advance the circular economy, including:
- Developing new business models for mechanical recycling: In March 2018, LyondellBasell took 50 % ownership of Quality Circular Polymers (QCP), a joint-venture with SUEZ, Paris, France. QCP uses a mechanical recycling process to produce premium plastic pellets from packaging waste for use in applications ranging from electrical appliances, washing detergent bottles, and suitcases. The materials, marketed by LyondellBasell, can currently be found, for example, in Samsonite’s S’Cure ECO luggage collection.
- Use of renewable feedstocks for plastics production: In April 2019, LyondellBasell produced plastics using renewable raw materials such as cooking and vegetable oil waste, for use in food packaging, toys, and furniture. These products, marketed under the Circulen and Circulen plus brands, meet all regulatory requirements for purity and offer the same high-quality properties as virgin plastics.
- LyondellBasell, Rotterdam, The Netherlands