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Loop looks to speciality polymers alongside polyester

High returns projected for new plant in India, based on favourable industry pricing and low operating cost environment.

8th May 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Loop Industries has formed a joint venture with Ester Industries to establish a $165 million Infinite Loop plant to recycle dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) from polyester waste in India and turn them into speciality polymers.

Loop’s patented and proprietary technology depolymerizes low-value waste PET plastic and polyester fibres – including plastic bottles and packaging, carpets and textiles of any colour, transparency or condition and even ocean plastics that have been degraded by the sun and salt – back to their base monomers. The monomers are filtered, purified and polymerized to create virgin-quality Loop branded PET resin suitable for use in both food-grade packaging and polyester fibres.

The DMT and MEG speciality chemicals market, however, currently has a value of $28 billion and is forecasted to grow at a 3.7% through 2033. The market is experiencing a global shortage of DMT due to recent plant closures in Europe, and low-carbon DMT and MEG are in high demand, but market otions are limited and costly.

The Infinite Loop India facility is expected to produce 70,000 tons of rDMT and 23,000 tons of rMEG annually and Ester will toll convert both into various grades of speciality polymers.

In addition, the plant will have up to 70% lower carbon emissions compared to plants producing virgin DMT and MEG manufactured from fossil fuels1, offering chemical companies a simple drop-in supplement and circular alternative that helps them achieve their sustainability goals.

Loop and Ester have a well-established working relationship, with Ester already producing Loop PET polyester for global brand customers over the last four years.

There is an abundant supply of feedstock for the facility from textile waste in India and arrangements for supply are well advanced.

The partners have engaged an external firm to source and secure the land for the facility and construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2026, with commercial operations commencing in early 2027.

The India JV offers attractive economic returns without the need for substantial sustainability-linked premium pricing and the total capital investment is estimated at approximately at $165 million.

 “This partnership reinforces our dedication to advancing sustainable solutions in the polymer industry and by leveraging Loop’s technology alongside our decades of polymer production experience, we will contribute to reduce the carbon footprint of our products, meeting the evolving needs of our customers,” said Arvind Singhania, chairman and CEO of Ester Industries.

“The speciality chemicals market offers a unique opportunity to expand the reach of our Infinite Loop technology beyond PET and polyester fibre and provides our customers with a sustainability linked advantage in the speciality chemicals market,” added Loop’s founder and CEO Daniel Solomita commented “Customer demand for rDMT, rMEG and speciality polymers produced using our technology is robust, due to very limited viable options available in the marketplace today.”

Ester Industries is one of India’s leading manufacturers of polyester films and speciality polymers, with manufacturing facilities in Khatima in Uttarakhand and Hyderabad in Telangana with combined capacities of 67,000 annual tons of polyester resin, 110,000 tons of polyester film and 30,000 tons of speciality polymers.

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