​ BP builds plastics recycling plant to showcase new technology​

BP will build a $25 million (£19.5 million) pilot plant in the US to transform currently unrecyclable PET into virgin-quality feedstock.

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Its new technology, BP Infinia, is designed to turn difficult to recycle plastics such as black food trays and coloured bottles, into recycled feedstocks that are interchangeable with those made from traditional hydrocarbon sources.

These feedstocks are expected to be recycled again and again, which could reduce the need for downcycle and divert plastic waste from landfill and incineration.

BP’s purified terephthalic acid (PTA) technology chemically converts complex PET plastic waste back to original monomer feedstock through a depolymerisation process.

This ‘purifies’ the monomers into recycled purified terephthalic acid (rPTA) and recycled monoethylene glycol (rMEG), which can be used to create high-performance polyester for packaging, clothing and industrial fibre products and applications.

The process could have a significant impact on EfW feedstock. 

Around 27 million tonnes of PET a year are used every year across the globe, with the majority (23 million) used in bottles.

Less than 60% of PET is currently collected for recycling and just 6% makes it back into new bottles, according to BP calculations.

The 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.

BP has been working on its PTA technology for five decades and has developed a process which is energy efficient and uses less water and produces less solid waste than the conventional PTA technology of the 1990s.

Once the technology is proven, BP will progress to full-scale commercialisation.


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