Eastman to invest up to $1 billion to build world’s largest molecular plastics recycling facility
French President Emmanuel Macron and Eastman CEO Mark Costa have jointly announced Eastman's plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman's polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tonnes annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated.
The investment would recycle enough plastic waste annually to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times, while also creating virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint.
This multi-phase project includes units that would prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of first-quality materials for specialty, packaging, and textile applications. Eastman also plans to establish an innovation centre for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy.
This innovation centre would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground. The plant and innovation centre would be expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.
A circular economy is key to addressing the global plastic waste crisis and the climate crisis, which have both been at the centre of attention in France and throughout Europe. This long-term partnership between France and Eastman will contribute to the EU achieving its sustainability goals, by reducing carbon emissions and enabling a circular economy. France has demonstrated tremendous leadership by recognizing the vital role of molecular recycling and supporting investments in innovation.
Eastman's polyester renewal technology provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today. This material is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled with existing technology. This hard-to-recycle waste is broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material without any compromise in 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 greenhouse gas emissions up to 80 percent less than traditional methods.
"Accelerating the transition to a circular economy is one of the main challenges in the years to come. Eastman's substantial investment in France demonstrates our country's willingness to embrace innovative technologies that will help us achieve our ecological and economic ambitions, by revolutionizing our country's plastics recycling capacities," said Barbara Pompili, French Minister for Ecological Transition. "France has always been at the forefront of this journey, and together with Eastman, is giving itself the means to achieve its ambitious plastics recycling targets set for 2025. We are very excited to welcome a company that has a 100-year history of innovation at a global scale and more than 30 years of molecular recycling experience."