Materials | 2 MINUTE READ

Eastman to Build World-Scale Plastic-to-Plastic Molecular Recycling Facility

With this significant investment, Eastman will use its methanolysis process to convert more than 250 million lb/yr of polyester-based waste into high-performance copolyesters.
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Eastman has announced that it is investing approximately $250 million over the next two years to build one of the world’s largest plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facility at its site in Kingsport, Tenn. Announced jointly by Eastman’s board chair and CEO Mark Costa and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in a January 29 press event, the planned facility will utilize the methanolysis polyester renewal process, first developed by Kodak 30 years ago to recycle polyester photographic film.  Eastman's experience with methanolysis makes it uniquely qualified to be a leader in delivering this solution at commercial scale, according to Costa.

Eastman's board chair and CEO Mark Costa

Polyester-based waste feedstock from PET bottles, packaging, carpets and textiles will be converted into high-performance materials across Eastman’s specialty plastics division’s product portfolio, including Tritan Renew copolyester for use in durable products within the electronics and medical device sectors and Cristal Renew copolyester for the cosmetics market sector.  This process of using plastic waste as the main feedstock is a true material-to-material solution and will not only reduce the company's use of fossil feedstocks, but also reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20-30% relative to fossil feedstocks. The technology will allow Eastman to divert waste that would otherwise be landfilled, incinerated or end up in our waterways. 

Expected to be mechanically complete by year-end 2022, the facility will contribute to the company achieving its ambitious sustainability commitments for addressing the plastic waste crisis, which includes recycling more than 500 million lb/yr of plastic by 2030 via molecular recycling technologies.

The company will be sourcing this feedstock waste from all over the country.  Its is already getting carpet from California and purchasing polyester from multiple sources for its molecular recycling technologies. Moreover, the company has plans underway with industry partners to increase volumes as the plant startup approaches.

Said Costa, “With the growing demand for products made with recycled content and the urgent need to address the global plastic waste crisis, now is the time for Eastman to take this step. Thanks to the support of the State of Tennessee and our local officials, we are able to build this facility in our home state, which we believe positions Tennessee to be a leader in enabling the circular economy and an example for others to follow. This will be a great investment for our local community and our customers, while also creating small business jobs to develop the recycling infrastructure necessary to support investment in a sustainable future.”

Eastman's Kingsport, Tenn. site

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