Axens, IFPEN and JEPLAN Commence Operations at their Chemical Recycling Unit
- 30-Oct-2023 6:13 PM
- Journalist: S. Jayavikraman
In 2020, Axens, IFPEN and JEPLAN initiated a groundbreaking partnership aimed at the development and licensing of an innovative recycling process known as Rewind® PET. This innovative process is engineered to recycle various forms of waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET), particularly those that are challenging to recycle through mechanical means.
The primary objective of this unit is to serve as a demonstrative platform for potential industrial customers. Here, these customers can observe how the innovative PET recycling process, jointly developed by the three partners, can be seamlessly integrated into their own production and recycling facilities. This milestone is of paramount significance to Axens, IFPEN, and JEPLAN as they move closer to the commercialization (licensing) phase, expected to commence by the end of 2023, following comprehensive validation of the process. The Rewind PET process is engineered to yield high-quality, virgin-like, recycled PET that meets the stringent requirements for various PET applications, including those in food contact packaging and textiles.
The pioneering Rewind PET process revolves around the continuous depolymerization of PET via glycolysis, followed by an extensive purification process for the resulting monomer, BHET (Bis(2-Hydroxyethyl) terephthalate). Its significant advantage for manufacturers lies in its ability to effectively separate all additives and colorants, thus restoring a pure BHET monomer. This pure monomer can then be effortlessly polymerized in existing or new polymerization plants.
The scope of this innovation encompasses the processing of all types of waste PET, including colored and opaque bottles, multilayer trays, packaging films, and polyester textiles. The development of this process has been the culmination of more than a decade of concerted efforts by Axens, IFPEN, and JEPLAN, who have harnessed their collective synergy for over three years. This innovation will play a pivotal role in assisting the PET industry in meeting its targets for the incorporation of recycled materials, serving as a valuable complement to mechanical recycling methods. Furthermore, it is expected to contribute significantly to the achievement of Europe's goal to have 30% recycled content in PET-based packaging by 2030.
The Rewind PET process is part of a broader strategy by Axens and IFPEN in the realm of the circular economy for plastics. The strategy encompasses the development of several chemical and physical recycling processes designed to complement mechanical recycling, ultimately striving to meet ambitious targets for the integration of recycled materials across diverse industrial sectors. This initiative initially focuses on sectors such as packaging and textiles. It represents a robust response to the challenges posed by the ecological transition, offering manufacturers and brand owners dependable, long-term solutions to adapt their industrial facilities. In essence, the Rewind PET process represents a pioneering step forward in advancing the circular economy for plastics, providing a robust solution to the demands of sustainability and ecological responsibility.