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Eastman Names Supplier for French Polyester Recycling Facility

Eastman and Interzero announced a long-term supply agreement for the former’s planned molecular recycling facility in Normandy, France.

Germany’s Interzero Plastics Recycling, a leader in plastics recycling with the largest sorting capacity in Europe, will provide up to 20,000 metric tons per year of hard-to-recycle PET household packaging waste that would otherwise be incinerated.

Eastman’s molecular recycling facility in France, expected to be operational in 2025, will become the world’s largest material-to-material molecular recycling plant. Once complete, the facility will recycle approximately 160,000 tons of hard-to-recycle polyester waste annually.

“Eastman is a leader in molecular recycling with decades of innovation expertise,” said Jacco de Haas, chief commercial officer at Interzero Plastics Recycling. “Joining forces by combining the leading knowhow of Eastman and Interzero is the next step in closing the loop with our partners and a step closer toward a world without waste. The world is facing a plastic waste crisis, with far too little plastic waste being recycled, either from lack of collection or because it simply cannot be recycled by traditional methods. Eastman’s innovative process and this agreement bring a solution to this.”

Chemical recycling is a necessary complement to mechanical recycling to keep more raw materials in the loop and both companies are committed to creating material circularity. Eastman’s facility in France will process colored and opaque PET waste that cannot be recycled mechanically to create clear and transparent rPET upon completion.

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“Interzero and Eastman are committed to reducing plastic waste and creating circularity through collaboration and innovation,” said Brad Lich, Eastman executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “This agreement marks an important milestone toward Eastman’s investment in France. We are happy to build a strong collaboration in Europe with Interzero to provide a portion of the feedstock needed to successfully operate our facility. The collaboration reinforces the complementary nature of mechanical and molecular recycling, and the importance of working together to create true circularity.”

Eastman’s polyester renewal technology provides circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today, the company noted. The material is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled using existing technology. Eastman’s chemical recycling technology allows it to be broken down into molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material while maintaining 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 significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional methods, Eastman said.

Under the guiding principle of “zero waste solutions,” Interzero advises over 20,000 customers throughout Europe on the responsible handling of recyclable materials, helping them to improve their own sustainability performance and conserve primary resources. In 2020, Interzero saved 1.4 million tons of greenhouse gases compared to primary production and at the same time 12.3 million tons of primary raw materials through its recycling activities, as determined by a Fraunhofer UMSICHT study.

Founded in 1920, Eastman is a global specialty materials company that produces a broad range of products in markets such as textiles and apparel, transportation, building and construction, and consumables. The company had 2021 revenues of $10.5 billion and is headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn.