Plastic waste, when not disposed of correctly, can end up in the environment, on land and in the oceans.
SABIC is pioneering to scale up a process that takes feedstock made from low value, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfill or incineration, to produce original, high-quality polymers.
Use of this process can enable wide-scale recovery of plastics, reducing waste sent to landfill, reducing dependency on traditional fossil-based feedstock, and creating a circular economy for plastics.
Plastics are instrumental in developing a range of innovative, beneficial packaging materials. However, while conventional recycling technologies are able to process some rigid or flexible plastics packaging materials for manufacture into new products, other plastics waste streams are more difficult to recycle.
To address the need to recover and divert more plastics materials from the waste stream, SABIC is developing a project that uses upgraded pyrolysis oil, a feedstock produced from low-quality, contaminated mixed plastic waste streams, in their crackers to produce virgin quality polymers.
In this initial market foundation stage, SABIC is supplying the finished polymers to customers that are developing new, home care products or high-quality consumer packaging for food, beverage and personal care.
SABIC’s Certified Circular Polymers are certified by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification plus (ISCC+), a global certification system that aims to build a more sustainable global supply chain.
According to ISCC+, SABIC’s Certified Circular Polymers have similar properties to packaging materials currently used in food packaging and other applications where purity and safety issues are a priority. Further, enabling mixed waste plastics to be directed back to the value chain can also help drive a circular economy and reduce the risk that plastics end up littering the environment.
SABIC is the first petrochemical company to implement an investment project for the chemical recycling of challenging mixed plastic waste back to the original polymer and achieved its “market foundation” milestone, with the initial production of polyethylene and polypropylene pellets at its facility in Geleen, Netherlands, in 2019. With full commercial scale production of polyethylene and polypropylene expected by 2021, SABIC anticipates that the Certified Circular Polymers will help create a new value chain, whereby SABIC, its upstream suppliers and key downstream customers can work together to upcycle mixed plastic waste back to the original polymer for a range of applications.