Saudi SABIC eyes completion of Dutch chemical recycling plant in Q4

Pearl Bantillo


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia petrochemical giant SABIC expects to complete its first chemical recycling plant in Europe in the fourth quarter, while it seeks more collaboration partners in Asia in promoting wider adoption of recycled plastics, a company official said.

“Our world-first advanced recycling unit to upscale production of SABIC’s certified circular polymers from mixed and used plastics is expected to reach completion in Q4 2023,” SABIC vice president for south Asia Janardhanan Ramanujalu told ICIS, referring to the pyrolysis-based chemical recycling unit in Geleen.

The plant, which will have up to 20,000 tonne/year capacity, is expected to use mixed plastic waste as a feedstock source.

SABIC, which is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco, is targeting to process 1m tonnes/year of plastics by 2030 to produce renewable polymers called TRUCIRCLE.

“Our TRUCIRCLE initiative includes mechanically recycled materials, certified circular products from advanced recycling of mixed waste plastics, certified renewable polymers from bio-based feedstock as well as closed-loop services to help mitigate the plastics ending up as waste,” the SABIC official said.

SABIC is exploring plans for a larger-scale project, which is likely to have a processing capacity of around 200,000 tonnes/year, as well as other projects potentially including a smaller-scale chemical recycling plant in Saudi Arabia, ICIS had reported in January.

“Today, the majority of SABIC’s asset base, which produces sustainable products, resides in Saudi Arabia and Europe. As the EU is leading in framing regulations, SABIC is initially concentrating on developing TRUCIRCLE™ products in the EU Region,” Ramanujalu said.

SABIC considers “Asia is one of the key growth areas”, providing the company with opportunities to partner up with both upstream and downstream players, Ramanujalu said.

“We are definitely open to exploring more partnerships in Asia at scale to bring even greater access to sustainable materials in the near future,” he said.

For packaged foods, SABIC has plastic recycling collaborations with Unilever’s ice cream brand Magnum, as well as with Mars and Landbell using its circular polypropylene (PP).

In Malaysia, the Saudi company is working with local plastic packaging manufacturer Scientex to produce recycled, flexible food packaging using ocean-bound plastics.

“The plastic is being collected from Malaysia’s waterways and recycled for use in premium noodles packaging,” Ramanujalu said.

“These collaborations demonstrate the feasibility of tackling the plastic waste challenge through dedicated value chain collaborations, and sets a milestone in shaping a circular plastics economy in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia where ocean-bound plastic waste is a particular challenge,” the SABIC official said.

Asia is currently lagging behind Europe on the circular economy reform given  regulatory, geographical and infrastructure challenges that must be overcome.

“Lack of awareness about proper segregation, collection, identification in recycling practices, poor or non-existent civic infrastructure in remote parts and, until recently, low demand for recycled plastics, are just some of the reasons,” Ramanujalu said.

“While we are seeing bright sparks across the region, more can still be done, and it will require the concerted efforts of policymakers, businesses and consumers alike,” he added.

“We are exploring ways to contribute, and taking a long-term view on how we do this,” the SABIC official said.

Interview article by Pearl Bantillo

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


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