LyondellBasell sees potential in EU plastics recycling plan

23 January 2018 22:52 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

LyondellBasell is taking a positive view of the EU’s new framework to eventually make all plastics packaging in the region recyclable and reduce plastics waste. “First, we are pleased to see the benefits and the role of plastics recognised by the EU. We support efforts in the EU and around the world to increase recycling and reduce waste,” said Richard Roudeix, senior vice president of Olefins & Polyolefins – Europe, Asia and International.

“This goal will help create a more circular economy, and we’re excited about opportunities that may present themselves,” he added.

The European Commission published on 16 January its very first Europe-wide strategy for plastics, which calls for all plastic packaging to be recyclable by 2030, while also expressing aims to reduce the use of single-use plastics and restrict use of microplastics. LyondellBasell supports the vision of the EU plastics strategy as well as the commitment expressed by trade association PlasticsEurope to achieve 100% re-use, recycling or recovery of all plastics packaging in the EU by 2040, the executive noted.

On 10 January, Roudeix was named chairman of European chemical trade group Cefic’s Climate Change and Energy Programme Council.

Roudeix

LyondellBasell is also a founding member of the World Plastics Council (WPC), which works to promote the responsible use of plastics. Jim Seward, LyondellBasell vice president, joint ventures and international marketing, was elected the next chairman of the WPC, in an announcement made on 22 January.

Roudeix said the EU’s move did not come as a surprise to the company as it has already been actively working with regulatory officials, trade associations and customers to increase recycling, reduce waste and address social demands for resource efficiency, including the use of recycled plastics.

HIGHER QUALITY RESINS

The executive also downplayed concerns about reduced plastics demand coming from the EU plan. “We believe in the future, there will be increased demand for both recycled plastics and for virgin material,” said Roudeix.

“There are business opportunities in higher-quality virgin materials, where we create the opportunity for our customers to manufacture premium products using less plastic, and in recycled materials.

In the past year, LyondellBasell has pursued both types of products,” he added. LyondellBasell’s Hyperzone high density polyethylene (HDPE) project in La Porte, Texas, US – under construction and scheduled to start up in 2019 – is being engineered to produce a higher quality grade of PE.

“Using HDPE from Hyperzone, our customers will be able to manufacture premium products while using less plastic,” said Roudeix. “Manufacturers will be able to use Hyperzone HDPE to make a variety of products with thinner plastic walls and less material, while maintaining the integrity of their products,” he added.

QCP RECYCLING DEAL

LyondellBasell in late November 2017 announced it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 50% stake in Quality Circular Polymers (QCP) and would have SUEZ as a 50/50 joint venture partner. The deal has yet to close as certain regulatory approvals are pending.

Founded in 2014, QCP has a facility in Sittard-Geleen, near Maastricht, the Netherlands, capable of converting consumer waste into 35,000 tonnes/year of polypropylene (PP) and HDPE starting in 2018, according to LyondellBasell.

“This acquisition allows us to complement and expand our product portfolio into recycled plastics. Recycled and reused plastics are a great product offering for our European polyolefin customers, and sustainable investments such as QCP are well-aligned with LyondellBasell’s goals for value generation,” said Roudeix. “Meeting sustainability and circular economy goals will continue to be one of several criteria that we consider while evaluating investment decisions,” he added.

As the EU strategy advances to concrete proposals, LyondellBasell plans to work with regulatory authorities, industry associations and customers to “continue to find innovative solutions to reduce waste and increase recycling”, said Roudeix.

By Joseph Chang