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Going beyond the mechanical recycling limits of plastics

Going beyond the mechanical recycling limits of plastics

Leading plastics, chemical and refining company LyondellBasell is exploring how to advance the chemical recycling of plastic materials together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, based in Germany.

The focus of the partnership between LyondellBasell and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is to develop a new catalyst and process technology to decompose post-consumer plastic waste, such as packaging into monomers for reuse in polymerisation processes. The collaboration is also meant to address a ‘growing need’ for improving the sustainability profile of high-quality plastics in Europe.

Highly efficient depolymerisation
In recent years, KIT has developed an innovative technology to realise the thermal conversion of complex organic feedstock. ‘Now the goal is to develop a high efficiency and clean plastic depolymerisation process, through catalyst innovation, to transform plastic waste back to the chemical building blocks,’ reports Massimo Covezzi, senior vice president of research & development at LyondellBasell.

‘Introducing LyondellBasell’s advanced catalysts to our process will greatly improve depolymerisation efficiency for polyolefin waste,’ according to Hans Leibold from KIT´s Institute for Technical Chemistry.

Complementary recycling solution
‘Earlier this year we announced a 50% share in Quality Circular Polymers (with Suez) to drive the development of high quality recycled polyolefins from the mechanical recycling of sorted post-consumer waste streams,’ comments Bob Patel, ceo of LyondellBasell. ‘This new cooperation will be a major step towards chemical recycling and extend our contribution to the circular economy,’ he remarks.