Photo: Tim Warner, Houston Chronicle / Contributor
Houston’s LyondellBasell said Tuesday it will build a test plant for recycling old plastics on a molecular level into new plastic products, helping to combat the global glut of plastic waste that threatens the future of the petrochemical industry.
LyondellBasell worked with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to develop the new molecular recycling technology, called MoReTec, which uses a catalyst to break down plastics on the molecular level more quickly and efficiently than traditional chemical recycling technologies, the company said.
LyondellBasell will build the first small-scale, test plant at its campus in Ferrara, Italy, which is home to much of the chemical and plastic maker’s research and development.
“Our investment in a small-scale pilot facility will help us advance MoReTec technology toward commercial scale in our quest to achieving a true circular economy,” said Jim Seward, LyondellBasell senior vice president of research and development, technology and sustainability.
LyondellBasell said it has confidence in the commercialization of this technology because it makes plastic recycling more affordable by using less energy and time to convert the materials into feedstock to build new plastics.
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The company also is developing other plastic recycling technologies, as well as the manufacturing of bioplastics – using renewable raw materials such as cooking and vegetable oil waste to make plastics.