Houston — Global oil major BP will build a new plant in Illinois to develop technology to process polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste that is largely unrecycled currently, the company said Friday.
PET, which is used to make plastic bottles and rigid food packaging, is among the most recycled plastics, but more than half used for bottles goes uncollected for recycling, the company said in a statement. In addition, about 6% of approximate 23 million mt/year used to make bottles ends up being recycled to make new bottles.
BP said its Infinia technology is designed to convert PET plastic waste traditionally difficult to recycle - such as colored bottles or black food trays - into feedstocks that can be re-used repeatedly and be interchangeable with virgin PET.
"These recycled feedstocks can then be used to make new PET packaging that may be recycled again and again," the company said. "This could reduce the need for downcycling and divert plastic waste from landfill and incineration."
The pilot plant will be built at BP's research and development hub in Naperville, Illinois, with startup expected in late 2020. The plant then will be used to further develop and test the technology and determine whether it can be commercialized on a large scale.
The technology also aims to convert the hard-to-recycle PET recycle into recycled versions of its upstream feedstocks for PET - purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) - that also would be interchangeable with virgin intermediates made from ethylene. Those recycled feedstocks could, if scalable, be used to make polyester for packaging, clothing and industrial fibers.
BP operates a 1.4 million mt/year PTA plant near Charleston, South Carolina.
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