BP plans to build a $25 million pilot plant in the US to test new recycling technology designed to convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste into virgin-quality feedstocks for new plastics, the oil major said.
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The most commonly used plastic for beverage and rigid food packaging, only a fraction of recycled PET makes it back into new bottles with the majority made into new products such as carpet and clothing.
BP said its Infinia technology, if commercially successful, would allow for less PET downcycling into single-life products and save more plastic waste ending in landfill or incineration sites.
Located at its research and development hub in Naperville, Illinois, BP said the pilot plant is expected to be operational in late 2020 to prove the technology on a "continuous basis."
"BP is committed to fully developing and commercializing this technology," BP vice president of petrochemicals technology Charles Damianides said in a statement. "We firmly believe that this innovation can ultimately contribute to making all types of polyester waste infinitely recyclable."
Last year, BP agreed to buy up to 16 million gallons/year of ultra low sulfur diesel fuel and naphtha blendstocks from Ohio-based plastics-to-fuel maker RES Polyflow.
BP said its Infinia technology involves chemically converting complex PET plastic waste back to original monomer feedstocks through a depolymerization process.
The technology also allows for the feedstocks to be processed into recycled purified terephthalic acid and recycled monoethylene glycol which is interchangeable with those produced from traditional hydrocarbon feedstocks.
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