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Itochu, Teijin and JGC Strike Deal on Polyester Recycling Tech

Japanese companies Itochu Corp., Teijin Limited and JGC Holdings Corp. have signed a joint agreement for the licensing of polyester chemical recycling technology to process discarded polyester textile products into new fibers.

The companies noted that in recent years, environmental damage caused by global warming resulting in greenhouse gases, and marine pollution caused by waste plastic and abandoned fishing gear, has become more serious and global countermeasures are urgently needed. Japan has implemented various sustainability initiatives, such as targeting the achievement of net zero emissions by 2050.

In the fiber and textile industry, they said there is an urgent need to address sustainability issues, such as the mass disposal of clothing, as well as environmental challenges of high levels of CO2 emitted during manufacturing.

Teijin has extensive and global experience in this area as a result of its operation of the world’s first large-scale plant utilizing chemical recycling technology to produce polyester from discarded polyester textile products. JGC has developed engineering technology and has acquired a wide range of expertise in the oil and gas sectors and is now focusing on the construction of environmentally friendly plants and on other technologies and businesses related to the protection of the environment.

In 2019, Itochu launched its “RENU” project to address the problem of excessive waste in the textile industry. It is also developing a global market for recycled polyester materials derived from used clothing and spare fabric generated during textile production.

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This agreement brings together Teijin’s proprietary chemical recycling technology deployed in the manufacture of polyester, the expertise of JGC derived from its global engineering business and Itochu’s extensive network of textile industry players. The three companies intend to establish a system for collecting discarded polyester fiber products and cost-effective chemical recycling technology for using such products as raw materials.

Going forward, Teijin, JGC and Itochu aim to expand the range of effective solutions for the mass disposal of used textile products.

In February, Eastman Chemical Company announced plans to build one of the world’s largest plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facilities at its site in Kingsport, Tenn. Through methanolysis, the facility will convert polyester waste that often ends up in landfills and waterways into durable products.

Eastman said polyester renewal technology will be an especially impactful solution, as low-quality polyester waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and would typically be diverted to landfills, incineration or end up in the environment can instead be recycled into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end-use durable applications.