ExxonMobil has unveiled plans to establish up to 500,000 tonnes annually of advanced [chemical] recycling capacity across multiple global sites by the end of 2026. The first facility in Baytown, Texas will be among the largest in North America and is expected to start operations by year-end 2022. A smaller, temporary facility is already operational and producing commercial volumes of certified circular polymers that will be marketed by the end of this year to meet growing demand.
“We’ve proven our proprietary advanced recycling technology in Baytown, and we’re scaling up operations to supply certified circular polymers by year-end,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “Availability of reliable advanced recycling capacity will play an important role in helping address plastic waste in the environment, and we are evaluating wide-scale deployment in other locations around the world.”
The new facility follows validation of ExxonMobil’s initial trial of its proprietary process for converting plastic waste into raw materials. To date, the trial has successfully recycled more than 1,000 tonnes of plastic waste, the equivalent of 200 million grocery bags, and has demonstrated the capability of processing 50 tonnes per day.
Upon completion of the large-scale facility, the operation in Baytown will be among North America’s largest plastic waste recycling facilities and will have an initial planned capacity to recycle 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. Operational capacity could be expanded quickly if effective policy and regulations that recognize the lifecycle benefits of advanced recycling are implemented for residential and industrial plastic waste collection and sorting systems.
ExxonMobil is developing plans to build approximately 500,000 tonnes of advanced recycling capacity globally over the next five years. In Europe, the company is collaborating with Plastic Energy on an advanced recycling plant in Notre Dame de Gravenchon, France, which is expected to process 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year when it starts up in 2023, with the potential for further expansion to 33,000 tonnes of annual capacity. The company is also assessing sites in the Netherlands, the U.S. Gulf Coast, Canada, and Singapore.
To meet customer demand for circular polymers, ExxonMobil has obtained certifications through the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus (ISCC Plus) process for several of its facilities. ISCC Plus is widely recognized by industry as an effective system to certify products that result from advanced recycling using mass balance attribution of plastic waste.
To help address the need for increased collection and sorting of plastic waste, ExxonMobil formed a joint venture with Agilyx Corporation, Cyclyx International LLC, focused on developing innovative solutions for aggregating and pre-processing large volumes of plastic waste that can be converted into feedstocks for valuable products. Cyclyx will help supply ExxonMobil’s advanced recycling projects and will aim to do the same for other customers.