Eastman, a globally operating speciality products company, is planning to invest up to 870 million euros ($1 billion) in France as part of a major push towards the creation of a circular economy.
The facility will begin operations in 2025, processing up to 1,60,000 tonnes per year of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently incinerated. The multi-phase task includes units that would prepare the mixed plastic waste for processing and a methanolysis unit to depolymerise the waste. This will create direct jobs for approximately 350 people and an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in the areas of recycling, energy and utilities. and infrastructure.
The centre will also include polymer lines to develop a variety of “premium materials for materials, product packaging and textile applications”. Eastman is also preparing to establish a development centre for molecular recycling in France.
The investment is substantial and shows France’s “willingness to adopt innovative technologies”, said Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili in the statement. France “is giving itself the means to achieve its ambitious plastic recycling targets set for 2025,” added Pompili.
Eastman will use what it calls molecular recycling, where waste is broken down into its constituent parts and rebuilt in new forms. Other companies, including the Ineos Group, are studying advanced plastic recycling. Finland’s Neste Oyj aims to process 1 million tonnes of plastic waste per year by 2030.
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French Delegate Minister for Industry said, Eastman’s world-scale project will allow France to position itself as a European leader in new technologies for recycling and recovering plastic waste. “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,” she added.
Eastman’s project has also garnered the support of a considerable number of global brands, who also share the ambition to solve the global plastic waste crisis. LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone have led the way by signing letters of intent for multi-year supply contracts from the site.
A circular economy is a “model of production and consumption” that encourages sharing, renting, reusing, repairing, reconditioning and recycling existing products and items for as long as possible. The shift from linear to circular economy is seen as crucial to solving the global plastic waste and climate crises.