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BP unveils new plastic recycling technology

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

BP has developed an enhanced recycling technology, BP Infinia, that enables currently unrecyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste to be diverted from landfill or incineration and instead transformed back into new, virgin-quality feedstocks.

BP plans to construct a US$25 million pilot plant in the US to prove the technology, before progressing to full-scale commercialisation.

Tufan Erginbilgic, BP’s Downstream Chief Executive, said: “We see our Infinia technology as a game-changer for the recycling of PET plastics. It is an important stepping stone in enabling a stronger circular economy in the polyester industry and helping to reduce unmanaged plastic waste.”

PET is the most commonly used plastic for beverage and rigid food packaging. Around 27 million tpy of PET are used in these applications globally, with the majority – around 23 million t – used in bottles.

Although PET is one of the most widely recycled types of plastic, less than 60% of the PET used for bottles is collected for recycling and only 6% of the total makes it back into new bottles. The rest is either ‘downcycled’, where products are recycled and re-used once before turning into waste, or destined for landfill and incineration.

BP Infinia technology is designed to turn difficult-to-recycle PET plastic waste – such as black food trays and coloured bottles – into recycled feedstocks that are interchangeable with those made from traditional hydrocarbon sources.

These recycled feedstocks can then be used to make new PET packaging that may be recycled again and again. This could reduce the need for downcycling and divert plastic waste from landfill and incineration.

Charles Damianides, Vice President of Petrochemicals Technology, Licensing and Business Development, continued: “BP is committed to fully developing and commercialising this technology. We have long experience and a proven track record of scaling technology and we firmly believe that this innovation can ultimately contribute to making all types of polyester waste infinitely recyclable.”

BP’s new pilot plant is planned to be located at its research and development hub in Naperville, Illinois. It is expected to be operational in late 2020 to prove the technology on a continuous basis.

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Downstream news BP news Downstream petrochemical news