By Joel Makower, GreenBiz, May 11, 2020.
At first glance, the sprawling industrial site, covering roughly 900 acres in Kingsport, Tennessee, appears to be just another chemical manufacturing facility. There are hundreds of buildings and countless miles of pipes, conveyors, distillers, cooling towers, valves, pumps, compressors and controls. It doesn’t exactly look or feel particularly noteworthy.
But something extraordinary is going on at this Eastman chemical plant: two breakthrough processes to turn waste plastics of all kinds back into new plastics, continuously, with no loss of quality.
Last year, the company announced two major initiatives:
- Carbon renewal technology, or CRT, which breaks down waste plastic feedstocks to the molecular level before using them as building blocks to produce a wide range of materials and packaging. The company claims this enables waste plastics to be recycled an infinite number of times without degradation of quality.
- Polyester renewal technology, or PRT, which involves taking waste polyesters from landfills and other waste streams and transforming them back into a raw material that the company claims is indistinguishable from polyester produced from fossil-fuel feedstocks.