old rolls of carpet
Carpet is among the materials that Eastman can recycle using its methanolysis process.
Kirk | stock.adobe.com

Eastman considers locations for second US methanolysis site

Two of the company’s existing sites in Texas are among the locations being considered.

July 1, 2022

June 24, commodity pricing and information service ICIS reported that Eastman, a global specialty chemicals company headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, was considering Texas City, Texas, for a new chemical recycling project, citing an application for a tax break that the company filed with the tax office of the city’s school district.

Eastman tells Recycling Today that it is “exploring future growth options worldwide to expand production of polymers and intermediates from recycled plastic waste, which may include an investment at one of its global manufacturing locations.”

The company continues, “Eastman applied for tax incentives for its properties owned in Texas City and Longview, Texas, for a potential project. These filings do not in any way commit us to one of these two sites. The team is still going through a robust site selection process, and there could be multiple filings of this type in several places as we look for the most attractive locations for this investment. Once a location is chosen, the facility is expected to be complete in the 2025-2026 time frame.”

The future facility would be similar to the one that Eastman is building in Kingsport that uses methanolysis to convert end-of-life polyester products and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging that are difficult to recycle by mechanical means into recycled raw materials that will be used to produce the company’s specialty plastics. Eastman’s Kingsport site is one of the largest integrated chemical manufacturing plants in North America. At the time of the Kingsport announcement in early 2021, Mark Costa, Eastman CEO and board chair, told Recycling Today, “We evaluated a number of possible locations, and ultimately, we made the decision based on our scale and integration in Kingsport. Also, we were able to work together with Tennessee state officials to make this investment here.”

According to the company, the Kingsport methanolysis plant will contribute to Eastman achieving its sustainability commitments for addressing the plastic waste crisis, which include recycling more than 500 million pounds of plastic waste annually by 2030 via molecular recycling technologies and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Eastman says it has committed to recycling more than 250 million pounds of plastic annually by 2025.

During its 2021 Innovation Day last December, Brad Lich, Eastman executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said the Kingsport project was expected to begin producing at commercial quantities in 2023 and that the company expected to announce at least one additional circular economy project in Europe or the U.S. in the first half of 2022.

That announcement came in mid-January when the company said it would it planned to invest up to $1 billion to build what it called the world’s largest molecular plastics recycling facility in France.

Calling the facility in France a “material-to-material molecular recycling,” Eastman said it will use its “polyester renewal technology” to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually of plastic scrap it characterizes as hard-to-recycle material “that is currently being incinerated.”