Polymers well placed to make gains over polyolefins thanks to recycling methods - exec

Author: Katherine Sale


VIENNA (ICIS)--Polymers with recycling technologies already in place could make gains over polyolefins as the industry aims to increase circularity, an executive at LyondellBasell said on Thursday.

Source: Barbara Boensch/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

“It’s a race,” said Paula Sanabria, project manager for circular economy at the US chemicals major.

While there has been investments for molecular recycling from polyolefin producers, some have estimated that it could take ten years before this technology is in place.

Sanabria said she hoped the technological breakthrough would come much earlier than that because the industry “needs it sooner”.

Molecular recycling is considered key for deployment in sectors like food packaging, currently a major end market for polyolefins.

Paula Sanabria. Source: LyondellBasell

Sanabria (pictured) made her remarks at the ICIS Polyolefins Circular Economy Forum, part of the 8th ICIS World Polyoleifns Conference.

Chemical recycling methods are already in place in some markets, for example polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which completes against polypropylene (PP) in the automotive sector, achieving gains in recent years as automobile producers increase the use of the so-called ‘piano black’ grades for interior vehicle applications.

The technological advances already in place for PMMA gives this polymer an advantage in recycling technologies.

In the EU, companies, consumers groups and research bodies established in 2018 a methyl methacrylate (MMA) recycling project, known as MMAtwo, which is funded by the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, with €6.6m out of a total budget of €8.9m.

Mechanical recycling was widely discussed at the ICIS World Polyolefins Conference. LyondellBasell’s Sanabria said that in order to meet the EU targets on circular economy it was necessary a combination of both mechanical and molecule recycling.

The 8th World Polyolefins Conference runs in Vienna on 3-4 April.

Click here to see regulatory targets and a list of chemical and mechanical recyclers on the ICIS Circular Economy topic page.