LyondellBasell will seek to leverage its expertise in polymer technology and SUEZ’s capabilities in waste management to produce prime grade plastics from recycled material through the companies’ planned joint venture (JV) in Quality Circular Polymers (QCP).
“This is the first time a large plastics producer and technology company has partnered with a leader in waste management in recycling,” said Richard Roudeix, LyondellBasell senior vice president of Olefins and Polyolefins - Europe, in an interview with ICIS on 1 December. “What’s also exciting is the technology dimension, which will allow us to produce close to prime material,” he added.
On 27 November, LyondellBasell announced it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 50% stake in QCP and would have SUEZ as a 50/50 joint venture partner.
Founded in 2014, QCP has a facility in Sittard-Geleen, near Maastricht, Netherlands, capable of converting consumer waste into 35,000 tonnes/year of polypropylene (PP) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) starting in 2018, said LyondellBasell.
LyondellBasell plans to market the QCP materials after the closing of the transaction expected by the end of 2017.
“Low-end recycling is not in our DNA. We want to leverage our technical knowledge to bring recycled material to a similar quality as prime material,” said Roudeix. “Because we will produce prime level material, we do not need to reinvent applications,” he added.
The initial focus will be on producing HDPE for blow moulding, and PP for injection moulding (rigid packaging applications), and the products will be labelled as recycled material.
“There is a lot of market pull for this, as the European consumer is very aware of this issue, and there are requests from brand owners,” said Roudeix.
With the plastics recycling joint venture, LyondellBasell also seeks to address the wider issue of plastic waste and end-of-life management. “There is no one magic bullet, but recycling is one part of the solution,” said Roudeix.
The raw material will come from post-consumer waste collected locally, mostly from the Netherlands and Germany. Suez’s expertise in high quality waste collection will help ensure high quality output, he said.
If successful, LyondellBasell aims to replicate the technology and operations elsewhere.
“We will use this JV as a platform for growth. We see opportunities in Northern Europe where there is more sophistication in recycling than in other parts of the world,” said Roudeix.