Eastman announces second chemical recycling technology

The company says it has modified the front end of its cellulosics production process to convert end-of-life plastics into molecular components.


Eastman, Kingsport, Tennessee, has announced a second innovation designed to address end-of-life plastics. Known as “carbon renewal technology,” the company says the innovation is capable of recycling some of the most complex end-of-life plastics, including nonpolyester plastics, flexible packaging and plastic film and mixed plastics that cannot be recycled conventionally.

In March, the company announced its plans to launch an advanced circular recycling technology that breaks down polyester products that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods into basic polymer building blocks.

By modifying the front end of Eastman's cellulosics production, carbon renewal technology converts end-of-life plastic feedstock into molecular components. Eastman says the process partially oxidizes the plastic feedstock and efficiently converts it into the basic building blocks of certain Eastman products, including Advanced Materials and Fibers segment products that serve ophthalmics, durables, packaging, textiles and nonwovens end-use markets.

Eastman says it has completed pilot tests at its Kingsport site and plans commercial production in 2019 by leveraging existing assets. The company adds that it is exploring commercial collaborations to yield mixed plastic streams to be recycled through carbon renewal technology at commercial scale.

Eastman board Chair and CEO Mark Costa says, “Eastman has the technology, the innovation power and the people to make a difference. Eastman is now uniquely positioned to deliver two powerful innovation solutions that target different plastic waste streams that pose complex challenges. Plastics are used in so many important ways. But because some don’t have good end-of-life solutions or are discarded, the world is facing a problem of significant magnitude.”

He continues, “Eastman is embracing its stated purpose of enhancing the quality of life in a material way for people around the world. This translates not only to producing superior materials for the products consumers use daily but also contributes in a meaningful way to a circular economy—an economy where we reuse and repurpose our resources so they retain their value for as long as possible.”

Steve Crawford, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Eastman, says the company’s new recycling portfolio is a perfect example of its innovation-driven growth strategy. “As a leader in materials innovation, Eastman can now provide unique solutions that will support our customers and end users in achieving their sustainability goals,” he adds. “Eastman’s circular technologies represent the opportunity for partnerships to provide solutions, including end-of-life options, that will have an impact on the global waste problem.”

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