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Fibres/​Yarns/​Fabrics

$1 billion polyester recycling plant plan

Polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually.

19th January 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Paris

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Eastman plans to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France.

The announcement was made jointly in Paris on Monday (January 17th), by French president Emmanuel Macron and Eastman CEO Mark Costa.

It will use  the company’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated.

 The investment will create virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint. Eastman is the largest investor at this year’s “Choose France” event, which is focused on attracting foreign investment to the country.

The multi-phase project includes units that will prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of first-quality materials for speciality, packaging and textile applications. Eastman also plans to establish an innovation centre for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation centre will advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground. The plant and innovation centre are expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.

A circular economy is key to addressing the global plastic waste crisis and the climate crisis, which have both been at the centre of attention in France and throughout Europe. This long-term partnership between France and Eastman will contribute to the EU achieving its sustainability goals, by reducing carbon emissions and enabling a circular economy. France has demonstrated tremendous leadership by recognizing the vital role of molecular recycling and supporting investments in innovation.

Support

Eastman’s project has also garnered support from an impressive roster of global brands who share its commitment to solving the world’s plastic waste problem and view molecular recycling as a pivotal tool for achieving circularity. LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone are leading the way by signing letters of intent for multi-year supply agreements from this facility.

Eastman’s proven polyester renewal technology provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today. This material is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled with existing technology. This hard-to-recycle waste is broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material without any compromise in performance. Eastman’s polyester renewal technology enables the potentially infinite value of materials by keeping them in production, lifecycle after lifecycle. With the technology’s inherent efficiencies and the renewable energy sources available in France, materials can be produced with greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% less than traditional methods.

“Accelerating the transition to a circular economy is one of the main challenges in the years to come,” said Barbara Pompili, French Minister for Ecological Transition. “Eastman’s substantial investment in France demonstrates our country’s willingness to embrace innovative technologies that will help us achieve our ecological and economic ambitions, by revolutionising our country’s plastics recycling capacities. France has always been at the forefront of this journey, and together with Eastman, is giving itself the means to achieve its ambitious plastics recycling targets set for 2025. We are very excited to welcome a company that has a 100-year history of innovation at a global scale and more than 30 years of molecular recycling experience.”

Costa hailed the investment in France as a significant step forward in Eastman’s strategy to accelerate a circular economy globally.

“Eastman is proud to partner with the French government to actively contribute to France and the EU’s bold commitments,” he said. “France has demonstrated its commitment towards a sustainable future and Eastman has set similar, ambitious carbon and circular economy goals. The announcement has been made possible thanks to the support of President Macron, the French government and its agency Business France, who have worked with impressive urgency to enable and incentivize this large and complex project.”

www.eastman.com

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