Kingsport Times-News: Eastman moves to address plastic waste by building advanced recycling facility
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Eastman moves to address plastic waste by building advanced recycling facility

Hank Hayes • Mar 5, 2019 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT —  Eastman has announced its intention to pursue the launch of an innovative advanced circular recycling technology that uses polyester waste which cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods and, as a result, often ends up in landfills and waterways.

Using the process of methanolysis, Eastman’s system breaks down polyester-based products into their polymer building blocks. These building blocks can then be reintroduced to the production of new polyester-based polymers, delivering a true circular solution. Eastman was one of the pioneers in developing methanolysis technology on a commercial scale and has more than three decades of expertise in this innovative recycling process. Eastman’s experience with methanolysis makes it uniquely qualified to be a leader in delivering this solution on a commercial scale. Advanced circular recycling technology can be an especially impactful solution, as low-quality polyester waste that would typically be diverted to landfills can instead be recycled into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end markets, including food contact applications.

“We recognize that plastic waste is a complex problem that needs advanced solutions. As we have engaged potential partners, it is clear there is high interest across the entire value chain,” said Mark Costa, Eastman’s Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “Our long history of technical expertise in chemical processes, including methanolysis, and our leading position in copolyester chemistry enable us to provide this innovative solution to address the growing challenges of plastic waste in our environment.”

Eastman, headquartered in Kingsport,  is currently executing an engineering feasibility study on the design and construction of a commercial-scale methanolysis facility to meet the demands of its customers and has engaged in initial discussions with potential partners across the value chain on the development of such a facility. The goal is to be operating a full-scale, advanced circular recycling facility within 24 to 36 months.

Eastman’s efforts to find new end-of-life solutions to advance the circular economy align with the company’s innovation-driven growth strategy and commitment to create value through sustainability. With a strong focus on issues and opportunities within the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework, the company has established goals and strategies to address the world’s complex challenges.

“We believe we have an obligation to enhance the quality of life in a material way,” said David Golden, senior vice president, chief legal and sustainability officer, and corporate secretary. “As the desire grows for products that have a sustainable life cycle, Eastman continues to build on its heritage of world-class technology platforms and product innovation to offer solutions at the molecular level. Today, more than ever, the world needs innovation, and Eastman is excited about the possibilities we can achieve by working along the value chain, across industry sectors and with community partners to expand our efforts and make the greatest collective impact.”

For more information, visit eastman.com/circulareconomy.

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