Flint Hills Resources, Encina contemplate partnership

The companies are considering partnering on a facility that would recycle plastic scrap into chemicals and renewable fuels.

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February 24, 2021

Encina Development Group, which is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, says it has signed a nonbinding term sheet with Flint Hills Resources LLC, Wichita, Kansas, to produce renewable chemicals and fuels from end-of-life plastics.

According to the term sheet, the parties could enter into a definitive agreement that includes building such a plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Houston Business Journal reports that the Encina-owned facility, which is estimated to cost $1 billion, could break ground sometime in 2023, depending on site allocation, permitting and other preparations.

The plant in question would be the second location for the company, David Schwedel, founder and executive director of Encina, tells Recycling Today, and it would be located next to FHR’s existing refinery complex in Corpus Christi.

In late 2020, polyolefins producer Braskem announced that it was collaborating with Encina to produce recycled polypropylene (PP). Under that agreement, Encina would supply recycled chemicals for use in PP production from a facility in the Northeast that it is planning to break ground on in the second half of 2021. Once completed, that facility is expected to process 175,000 tons of plastic scrap, converting it to more than 90,000 tons of recycled chemicals per year, Braskem says.

The Houston Business Journal reports that Encina will outsource the operation of the proposed Corpus Christi facility through a contract with Australia-based Worley Ltd., which also will operate the plant Encina is building in the Northeast. Worley says the plants are modularly scalable to increase throughput as more feedstock becomes available.  

Flint Hills Resources would refine the outputs from the Encina plant in Corpus Christi, Schwedel says, and then market the renewable aromatic products as well as work with its affiliates to market these products from other Encina U.S.-based plants.

Flint Hills Resources, a Koch Industries company, is a major supplier of fuels for the Texas market, including the San Antonio, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, from its Corpus Christi refineries. In addition, the refineries produce various chemical commodities that are used for a variety of products.

“Our work with Encina is an exciting addition to our growing portfolio of renewable product and technology investments,” says Francis Murphy, Flint Hills Resources senior vice president, Chemicals. “Renewable aromatics and bioplastics are playing an increasingly import role in the product value chain and reducing environmental impacts while still delivering on all the various products that make modern life possible.”

Encina’s technology provides a proven platform to be able to deliver renewable chemicals and renewable fuels while helping resolve the issue around waste plastics,” Schwedel says.

Flint Hills Resources is an excellent partner for Encina,” he continues. “They have deep domain industry expertise and an aligned focus on delivering highly valued and sustainable products to the marketplace.”