SABIC, a diversified chemicals company headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, recently announced a milestone in the production of certified circular polymers using a feedstock from mixed plastic waste. This achievement — the production of the first certified circular polymers — is part of what is known as a ‘market foundation stage.’
Launched in January, this stage is an important step towards creating a new circular value chain for plastics, during which, initial volumes of pyrolysis oil from plastic waste are introduced as feedstock at the company’s Geleen production site in The Netherlands. The patented pyrolysis oil has been produced by Plastic Energy Ltd. from the recycling of low quality, mixed plastic waste otherwise destined for incineration or landfill.
As part of the market foundation stage, SABIC has begun to produce and commercialize the first monthly volumes of certified circular polymers — polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) — prior to the projected start-up in 2021 of the commercial plants planned by SABIC and Plastic Energy in the Netherlands to manufacture and process the alternative feedstock.
“Certified circular polymers are a disruptive innovation and SABIC’s market foundation stage is a critical phase in their development,” said Frank Kuijpers, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability at SABIC. “It will act as a bridge moving from a linear economy to a circular one and will enable the value chain to become familiar with the products and consider how they can best be implemented in their own markets. It will allow confidence in this pioneering product to grow before SABIC goes into full scale production.”
The polymers are certified through the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification plus (ISCC+) scheme that certifies circular content and standards across the value chain from source to end product. The ISCC+ certification works on what is known as a “mass balance system,” meaning that for each ton of circular feedstock fed into the cracker and substituting fossil-based feedstock, a ton of the output can be classified as circular.
Certified circular polymers will help SABIC’s customers to meet consumer demand for more sustainable products and will contribute to closing the loop on reutilizing plastic waste. The company manufacturescin the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific, making distinctly different kinds of products, including chemicals, commodity and high-performance plastics, agri-nutrients and metals.