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Covestro, Neste, and Borealis partnership will turn tires into new car parts

Three men hold an automotive part
From left to right: Jeroen Verhoeven (Neste), Thomas Van De Velde (Borealis), and Guido Naberfeld (Covestro) Covestro

Neste, Borealis, and Covestro have signed a project agreement to enable the recycling of discarded tires into high-quality plastics for automotive applications. The collaboration aims at driving circularity in plastics value chains and the automotive industry. When no longer fit for use, tires are liquefied using chemical recycling and then processed into base chemicals and further into polycarbonates of high purity. These can then be used in various automotive applications, from parts of headlamps to radiator grilles.

"Circularity requires cooperation, and this cooperation with our partners Neste and Borealis is testament to the possibilities at our disposal," says Guido Naberfeld, senior vice president and head of sales and market development mobility at Covestro. "We are creating options to turn old tires into new car parts again. With that, we are supporting our automotive customers and addressing an increasingly prominent question discussed across the value chain: How to match high-performance materials with recycled content? Projects like this can be the answer."

As part of the collaboration, Neste will turn liquefied discarded tires into raw material for polymers and chemicals manufacturing and supply it to Borealis. Borealis will then process the Neste-produced raw material into base chemicals phenol and acetone, which are then supplied to Covestro. Covestro can use these materials to make polycarbonate. The share of recycled content is attributed to the mass balancing approach to the final products using ISCC Plus certification.

The first products based on the collaboration are already available as each party has manufactured the first batch of their contribution to the project. Aside from polycarbonates, the project partners may also consider polyurethanes as a possible end product, which could also find its way into parts of the interior of a car. The companies emphasize that the potential to scale up these types of developments should be considered when setting ambitious targets for future EU regulations, such as the End of Life Vehicles Regulation.

"We are demonstrating the importance of value chain cooperation to give new value to waste," says Thomas Van De Velde, senior vice president of base chemicals at Borealis. "We are proud that Borealis, in collaboration with Neste, is able to play a role in this project, providing more sustainable solutions for polymer applications for Covestro and its customers."

"This project can serve as a blueprint when it comes to establishing circularity in the field of plastics in cars," says Jeroen Verhoeven, vice president of value chain development for polymers and chemicals at Neste. "It shows how low-quality waste materials can be turned into very high-quality plastics. This is good news for the polymers and automotive industries as well as for the environment."

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