“We need a wide range of recycling forms for plastic waste, because not every solution makes sense for every type of waste and is possible for every product application.”
Germany-headquarted chemicals giant BASF has announced that it has started to produce materials from chemically-recycled plastic waste products for the first time. Earlier this month, the company said that it had begun to produce products from synthetic gas (syngas) and oils from waste plastics using a thermochemical process through its ‘ChemCycling’ project, a project that looks at the chemical recycling of plastic waste.
The oils are produced by BASF’s partner Recenso and used at BASF’s Ludwigshfen, Germany, headquarters.
The first batch of oil was fed into a Ludwigshfen cracker in October, with ethylene and propylene the primary outputs so far. Cracking is a process in which complicated organic molecules are broken down into simpler molecules by breaking their carbon-carbon bonds.
BASF (@BASF) can allocate a percentage of recycled raw material to each product based on customer specifications, the company said in a statement.
“Responsible use of plastics is crucial to solving the global waste problem,” Martin Brudermüller, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of BASF SE. “With our ChemCycling project, we are opening up plastic waste as a resource. This is how we create value for the environment, society and the economy. We have gained partners along the entire value chain to build a working cycle model.”
According to the company, it is already developing pilot products with 10 customers from various industries. These include mozzarella bags, refrigerator elements and insulation boards.
BASF said that the production of these products, which are demanding in terms of quality and hygiene, such as food packaging, is possible because the properties of the ChemCycling products supplied by BASF correspond exactly to the products produced from fossil raw materials.
Commenting on the initiative, Stefan Gräter, Project Manager ChemCycling at BASF, said: "This new form of recycling offers perspectives for innovative business models for us and for our customers, who already attach great importance to products and packaging made of recycled materials, but do not want to compromise on quality or can. In the next step, BASF will also offer its first products from the ChemCycling project commercially.”
According to BASF, both the market and society expect the industry to provide solutions in dealing with plastic waste. It said that chemical recycling was an “innovative addition to other recycling and disposal methods”.
“We need a wide range of recycling forms for plastic waste, because not every solution makes sense for every type of waste and is possible for every product application,” Andreas Kicherer, sustainability expert at BASF.
BASF also said its project could only reach market maturity, technological and regulatory requirements had to be met. It explained: “On the one hand, the existing technologies for converting waste plastics into the recycled raw materials pyrolysis oil or synthesis gas must be further developed and adapted so that a high and consistent quality is achieved.
“On the other hand, the regional regulatory framework will significantly influence how far this approach can be established in the respective market.”
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