Eastman spending US$1 billion on recycling plant in France

Eastman plans to invest up to US$1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France.

This facility will use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tonnes annually of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated.

Eastman’s proven polyester renewal technology provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today.

The investment would recycle enough plastic waste annually to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times, while also creating virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint.

This multi-phase project includes units that would prepare mixed plastic waste for processing, a methanolysis unit to depolymerize the waste, and polymer lines to create a variety of first-quality materials for specialty, packaging, and textile applications.

Innovation centre

Eastman also plans to establish an innovation centre for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation centre would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground.

The plant and innovation center would be expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure.

This long-term partnership between France and Eastman will contribute to the EU achieving its sustainability goals, by reducing carbon emissions and enabling a circular economy. France has demonstrated tremendous leadership by recognizing the vital role of molecular recycling and supporting investments in innovation.

Supply agreements

LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone have signed letters of intent for multiyear supply agreements from this facility. 

Hard-to-recycle polyester waste is broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become first-quality material. With the technology’s inherent efficiencies and the renewable energy sources available in France, materials can be produced with greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% less than traditional methods.

“Eastman’s world-scale project will allow France to position itself as a European leader in new technologies for recycling and recovering plastic waste. This investment is the result of the ambitious approach to industrial reconquest led by the Government since 2017, which has enabled France to become the most attractive country in Europe from 2018 onward for industrial projects,” Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French delegate minister for industry said.

“With this project, which is an important step for our sovereignty, we are giving ourselves the means to achieve our ambitions in terms of ecological transition while creating sustainable jobs in manufacturing, infrastructure and energy. We look forward to developing this relationship with Eastman.”