New Hope Energy, TotalEnergies partner on Texas chemical recycling facility

Emily Friedman

18-May-2022

HOUSTON (ICIS)–New Hope Energy has announced plans to build a chemical recycling facility on the Gulf Coast in Texas, in conjunction with a partial offtake agreement with TotalEnergies.

Similar to New Hope Energy’s original facility in Tyler, Texas, this new facility will utilise Lummus Technologies pyrolysis process technology and will be able to process 310,000 tonnes/year of mixed plastic waste. New Hope Energy will target mixed plastic waste feedstock from material recovery facility (MRF) mixed plastic bales, among other sources. The plant is expected to be online in 2025.

TotalEnergies will receive 100,000 tonnes of pyrolysis oil, with the intention of manufacturing sustainable polymers for food-grade applications.

This comes as Missouri is in the final stages of signing into law House Bill 2485, a piece of legislation which supports chemical recycling operations, which they deem “advanced recycling”. Should the bill become law, Missouri would be the 19th state to adopt such legislation, following Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina earlier this year.

The terminology “advanced recycling” is opposed by many organisations as it can be misleading as to the physical process of recycling and the marketing qualities of the technology. Many chemical recycling technologies have existed for years, though only recently have companies commissioned production units.

This bill will amend the legal definitions of chemical recycling processes such as pyrolysis, solvolysis, gasification and depolymerization such that they would no longer be categorised under categories like “solid waste processing” or “incineration”.

This would mean the investment, construction and running of chemical recycling facilities covered under these laws could grant them funding, taxation or environmental regulation as a recycling facility rather than as a waste to fuel or disposal facility.

Moreover, adopting the legal definition of recycling opens the door for chemically recycled material to be used in future post-consumer recycled content mandates or as marketable recycled material.

Despite the legal support chemical recyclers estimate that it will take at least another seven to 10 years to reach true commercial scale, and the bulk of the industry remains at pilot stage.

According to the ICIS Chemical Recycling Supply Tracker, based on company announcements, roughly 1 million tons of chemical recycling capacity was expected in the US by the end of 2021. This figure is expected to increase to 5 million tons by the end of 2025, prior to announcement of this facility. The capacity does not reflect the full extent of the future market.

As with traditional recycling methods, chemical recyclers see the ability to source sufficient high-enough quality waste volumes and increasing collection and sorting infrastructure as the key challenges to growth.

In order to tackle difficult to recycle plastic waste, several recyclers are exploring partnerships with chemical recycling companies. Unusable plastic waste produced or pre-sorted from the mechanical recycling process could be prime feedstock for chemical recycling facilities.

As chemical recycling facilities continue to be announced, concerns are growing with respect to future feedstock supply.

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ICIS has launched a new US recycled polyethylene (R-PE) commodity service covering prices for natural and mixed-coloured post-consumer HDPE bales on the East and West Coasts and bottle-derived or post-industrial recycled HDPE and LDPE resin, including blow molding grade flake and pellet, injection grade flake and film grade pellet. Additionally, this new service covers emerging trends in the mechanical recycling and polyolefin based chemical recycling markets. To subscribe to the new pricing service, or for further information, please contact clientsuccess@icis.com.

In November 2021, ICIS launched a mixed plastic waste pricing service covering European prices for mixed-polyolefins waste bales, reject refuse-derived fuel (RDF) bales and reject materials recovery facility (MRF) bales. Along with this, the new service covers emerging trends in the chemical and mechanical recycling markets, as well as the burn-for-energy sector. To subscribe to the new pricing service, or for further information, please contact clientsuccess@icis.com.

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