Carbon renewal and polyester renewal technology for circular plastics - Innovation @ E2Expo
Updated : 25-Oct-2020
Eastman Chemical Company is a global advanced materials and specialty additives firm that produces a broad range of products found in everyday items. As part of its circular economy model, it has developed two innovative technologies for plastics recycling - carbon renewal technology which breaks down waste plastics into molecular building blocks like carbon, oxygen and hydrogen before using them as building blocks to produce a wide range of materials and packaging and polyester renewal technology which involves taking waste polyesters from landfills and other waste streams and transforming them back into a raw material similar to fossil based polyester.
It provides an end of life solution to many single-use plastics, textiles, and carpet, that traditional mechanical recycling methods cannot process. The waste plastics can be recycled infinite number of times without degrading its quality. The process is also applicable to breakdown coloured PET. The process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20%-30% when compared to processes using fossil fuels.
The company partnered with Circular Polymers to convert PET pellets it retrieved from waste carpeting into new recycled materials using carbon renewal technology. The new materials can be used in textiles, packaging for cosmetics and personal care products and more. The company has also applied for certification of its recycled materials by International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC), an independent agency for tracking sustainable content in a variety of industries. In 2019, the company became a member of EMF’s Circular Economy 100 Network.
The two main differences among the technologies are the type of feedstock, or material input used, and the outputs produced. Carbon renewal technology can process a broad mix of plastic waste—all types except PVC—to use as inputs, whereas polyester renewal technology uses a family of polyester material as the process input.
Eastman's innovations have been initiated by current chairman and CEO, Mark Costa who has graduated from both Berkeley and Harvard. The model is also a part of the products and services offered by the company. The company sees potentially unlimited opportunity in all the other types of plastic waste — especially those that are hard to recycle, from a cost and logistics perspective. The carbon renewal technology is also being used in Eastman's Naia textile fibre production - a natural fibre based product - to follow a sustainable and circular economy. The company expects to use up to 50 million pounds of waste plastic in carbon renewal technology operations in 2020, and projects are currently underway to significantly expand that amount.