ExxonMobil, Cyclyx, And Lyondellbasell To Establish Houston's First-of-its-kind Plastic Processing Facility

  • 21-Oct-2022
  • Journalist: Jaideep

Cyclyx International, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has joined forces with ExxonMobil, based in Texas, and LyondellBasell, based in the Netherlands, to build a plastic sorting and processing facility, which would recycle plastics like High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) in the Houston area. The Cyclyx Circularity Center is what the businesses intend to call the facility.

The 600,000-square-foot facility will sort plastic scrap by polymer type using near-infrared and optical sorting technologies.

Cyclyx will procure a mixture of post-consumer, post-commercial, and post-industrial plastic scrap for the new facility. All types of plastics like Polyethylene Terephthalate(PET), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and Polypropylene (PP)can be processed at the facility, which can also produce up to 150,000 metric tonnes of plastic feedstock annually.

Cyclyx CEO Joe Vaillancourt says that the new facility is "more than" just a place to recycle plastic (PRF). "The Centre is being designed to handle a much wider variety of plastics than is typically found at a traditional PRF," he states. This facility stands out thanks to Cyclyx's ability to overlay chemical characterization of post-use plastics to guarantee product quality for both chemical and mechanical recycling. A new set of recycling options for waste plastics that are currently sent to landfills but are difficult to recycle, like High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP), will be developed once waste plastic chemistry is understood.

According to Vaillancourt, Cyclyx oversees the facility's design, engineering, and project management during construction: acquiring plastic scrap and operating the facility to produce on-spec feedstock for mechanical and advanced recycling once it is operational. He adds that Cyclyx plans to use new technologies to sort, mix, and blend the incoming plastics in accordance with customer specifications. The plastics will be analyzed based on chemical composition and the type of polymer.

Up to USD 100 million will be invested in the Cyclyx Circularity Center by ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell if a final investment decision is made in early 2023. The facility's feedstock will be used to supply mechanical recycling markets as well as advanced recycling projects for ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell. In 2024, the businesses anticipate opening the facility for business.

According to the market intelligence team at ChemAnalyst, several downstream businesses in the United States are moving towards recycled plastics like R-PET, R-HDPE, and R-PP from virgin ones because of multiple factors. As a result of this, the market of recycled plastics, which is currently dull, is expected to skyrocket in the next two years.

Till Now, the market is down primarily because of the substandard performance of the upstream crude oil market. Packaging, furniture, and plastics products manufacturing industries showed good interest in virgin plastics as they were able to get better procurement deals than those for recycled plastics. So, more volumes of R-HDPE, R-PP, and R-PET were and are available in inventories without being marketed. In addition to these, some companies had closed their plants for a while owing to the summer season, lack of employees, enhanced energy, and production costs.

Currently, in the US, recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (R-PET) Pellets (clear flakes) are being traded at USD 1,803 per MT on FOB – Los Angeles basis and recycled High-Density Polyethylene (R-HDPE, natural pellets) are sold at USD 2,040 per MT on FOB – Houston basis. Because of various recent announcements from companies involved in recycling businesses, the team expects the cost of R-HDPE to grow by more than 8% by the end of this year. However, the team has predicted the cost of R-PET to decline by 1.5% during the same time frame.

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