Plastics recycling gets some attention…

This looks like wishful thinking to me. Better collection and sorting and more recycling will help. But you start with a very low number and try to improve. Lots of growth potential, but only if its profitable.

Taxes on plastics are likely the best solution. You can encourage use of recycled plastics or easily recycled plastics. Make difficult to recycle materials costly. And use the funds to pay for collection and processing.

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Here is one of the best recycling ideas for all kinds of plastic: Road makers turn to recycled plastic for tougher surfaces…


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Yes, use in asphalt or concrete for roads gets rid of recycled plastics. But you are replacing sand and gravel available locally for $20/ton. Or $0.01/lb.

That rate hardly covers collection, grinding, and cleaning costs.

Higher value uses have better potential. Otherwise subsidies are required one way or another.


The recycled plastic is not replacing the aggregates, sand and gravel, but is meant to replace the binder i.e., the tar. At the ever-increasing cost of oil and cheap price of waste plastic substituting one for the other makes both economic and environmental sense.


Road tar is routinely heated to reduce viscosity for application or blending with aggregate and rolled. You wonder that equipment is hot enough to melt thermoplastics.

Also tar is the bottom stream of an oil refinery after everything of value has been removed. The only thing lower is petroleum coke.

At $100/bbl, crude oil is worth abt $0.24/lb. (42 gal at 10 lb/gal). That gives recycled plastic some value but $1/lb applications are more attractive. At $4/gal, diesel fuel or jet fuel is worth more. More profitable, better margins make it a more attractive investment.

Right now cities and towns are paying companes to haulaway plastic waste. So you can pay for the tar or you can get paid for accepting the plastic to recycle and then you can also get paid for the paving material.


Yes, and municipalities are paying to collect and sort recycled plastics. Landfill cost is low most places. Cheaper to landfill than collect and sort.

Subsidizing recycling either from the people who make it or the people who collect it is the logical next step.

But finding high value uses that will pay for itself is likely more sustainable.

The great thing about the English developed recycling for this paving material, which has been mentioned in the press, is that it requires little if any sorting and uses all common classes of plastics.

This method can also produce a water permeable surface to help control runoff and roadway flooding.


Eastman Chemical contracts for 20,000 metric tons per year of hard to recycle polyethylene glycol terephthalate plastic from Interzero Plastics Recycling in Europe.

Eastman Chemical uses alcoholysis to break PET plastic into either dimethyl terephthalate or di(ethylene glycol) terephthalate which can be purified and used to make new PET plastic. The process removes additives like dyes and fillers making these plastics suitable for recycling.

Eastman Chemical has a recycling plant for PET in Kingsport, TN and is building one with capacity of 160,000 tons per year in Normandy, France due 2025. It will be the world’s largest.

Eastman Chemicals plastics recycling previously reported on the old Renewable Energy Board, message no 18937, posted Aug 4, 2021. The Kingsport plant has a capacity of 200MM lb per year and is due on line in 2022.

C&EN Newsitem Oct 3, 2022.

Exxon Mobil and Cyclyx International agree to recycle synthetic turf–probably polypropylene–grass from sports fields. Exxon Mobil will send them to their pyrolysis plant in Baytown, TX, under construction, which will break the plastics down to hydrocarbons suitable for processing to fuels or plastics in the Baytown oil refinery. TenCate Grass in California will begin the program by shredding 50 artificial turf fields there.

Cyclyx has a subsidiary Agilyx, listed on the Oslo stock exchange. Agilyx | History

C&EN Newsitem Oct 3, 2022

Low temp process converts polyethylene to propylene monomer

Breaking down polyethylene usually requires high temperatures. The new process uses three exotic catalysts (iridium, palladium, and ruthenium) but breaks down polyethylene in 80% yield at 200 deg C. Not yet commercial but catalyst recovery and reuse will be critical to practical economics.

Plastics recycling by pyrolysis for polyethylene and polypropylene. C&EN has detailed article indicating the plastics and chemical industry seem to be adopting this technology. Exxon-Mobil in Baytown, TX has a plant due soon that can feed by-products into the refinery there for processing.

“Nearly every large chemical company—Dow, BASF, Shell, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell Industries, Sabic, Ineos, Braskem, and TotalEnergies, to name some—either has joined hands with a smaller firm developing a process or is creating its own.”

“These firms argue that pyrolysis can make up for the shortcomings of mechanical recycling, the familiar process of washing and repelletizing the plastics that consumers drop into blue bins. Only two polymers—the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) found in soda and water bottles and the high-density polyethylene in milk [bottles] and other such containers—are widely recycled at an appreciable scale. And it is difficult to get even these relatively homogeneous materials up to the contamination specifications needed for food-contact use. In all, mechanical recycling manages to capture only about 9% of plastics in the US, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.”


C&EN is reporting that Eastman Chemical has committed to building a third PET recycling plant with capacity of 160,000 t/yr at a yet to be announced site. Pepsi-Cola has contracted to buy much of the output. The Kingsport, TN plant is now due to open early in 2023. Once again they will use methanolysis to break PET into PET raw materials, dimethyl terephthalate and ethylene glycol.

C&EN News item Nov 7, 2022

C&EN is reporting that Ineos is working with Plastic Energy to build a plastics pyrolysis plant in Cologne, Germany. Capacity 100,000 metric tons per year. Due 2026. The pyrolysis oil will be fed to an ethylene cracker to make ethylene suitable for production of polyethylene. As noted above the feed plastics will be polyethylene and polypropylene, two of the largest volume commercial plastics.

C&EN News item Nov 7, 2022

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According to a Greenpeace USA analysis released on Monday, plastic recycling rates are falling even as manufacturing soars, and the circular economy claims made by the industry are “fiction.”
The study, titled “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again,” discovered that only 2.4 million tonnes, or about five percent, of the 51 million tonnes of plastic garbage produced by American households in 2021 were recycled. The trend has been declining since 2014, when buy xanax peaked at 10%, especially after China ceased importing plastic garbage from the West in 2018.
While this is happening, virgin production—that is, of non-recycled plastic—is quickly increasing as the petrochemical industry grows and costs fall.

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Eastman Chemical is building plants to recycle PET plastic and has technology to do more. Exxon and others are building plants to process polyethylene and polypropylene.

That should provide a home for more plastic. Getting consumer product companies to use more recycled in their packaging will help.

The industry is well aware it needs to do more. Finding a home for recycled plastics is a step forward.

A bottle bill requiring a deposit on all plastic containers might make a difference. I don’t see grocery store items returning to heavy fragile glass. Deposits would probably add a few dollars to you grocery bill. But costly for grocery stores to collect and pay returns.

Petrochemical industry probably sees the handwriting on the wall. Fuel use is being phased out. One day plastics may be their main product. Recycling has to work. Or else!!!

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