Dutch chemicals and plastics giant LyondellBasell Industries and French water and waste management company Suez have joined forces to create a plastics recycling platform which would produce prime virgin quality materials, according to a senior official at LyondellBasell.
Speaking to PNE, Richard Roudeix, senior vice president of olefins and polyolefins for LyondellBasell Europe, Asia and international said the 50/50 joint venture with Suez was a project predominantly aimed at the European market. The two companies have invested an undisclosed amount into acquiring Dutch plastics recycling company Quality Circular Polymers (QCP) as part of a joint effort to address the burning issue of end of life plastics.
QCP was founded in 2014 and starting from 2018, its Sittard-Geleen facility, near Maastricht, will have the capacity to convert consumer waste into 35 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) per year.
According to Roudeix, the whole project started with the realisation that despite “plastic being a fantastic material”, there was an issue with the waste management of plastics.
“This is an issue we need to resolve as part of the industry, but we don’t have the solution ourselves. We need to be part of the solution and we need to work with the full process chain,” explained Roudeix. Therefore, as a leader and pioneer in plastic production, the company decided to join forces with another waste management segment leader Suez, he said.
Being an innovation-driven company, the SVP said LyondellBasell always sought to develop products that are “pushing the boundaries and application of plastics.”
“What was interesting for us in the QCP concept was the fact that we are taking waste and we are transforming that into products that can replace prime virgin polymers,” he further added.
Without going into details, due to IP protection reasons, Roudeix said: “One of the contributions of LyondellBasell would certainly be to improve the quality of current and future products in order to formulate the specifications of the materials.
As part of the plan, LyondellBasell will help QCP increase its technical capacity and the number of products and applications, marrying it with waste management and collection capabilities of Suez in order to produce the right feedstock from the JV. QCP’s facility in Chemelot, Sittard-Geleen, currently has the capacity to produce 35 kilotonne per year (ktpa) and the plan is to increase the figure to 50ktpa.
“The plan is to show that we can make a success with this joint venture, not just in terms of technical performance but also in economic terms too. And then, the plan is to multiply that model elsewhere in Europe,” Roudeix noted.
While LyondellBasell has no a specific time window in mind, Roudeix stressed that the company is “fully committed and fully convinced” that the project will be a success. In his view, what is truly exciting about this joint venture is the "cooperation of two leaders from different parts of the value chain for the first time, which makes this joint venture “unique”.