Carbios, Kem One to study scaling up of 'breakthrough' recycling technology

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Photo by Carbios YouTube channel The plant is currently designed by Carbios' partner TechnipFMC

Manufacturer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Kem One and cleantech specialist Carbios SA are studying the potential construction of a demonstration plant for Carbios’ breakthrough biorecycling technology.

The two French companies announced 4 Dec that they had signed a ‘letter of intent’ to evaluate the potential of building the plant at Kem One’s production facility in the French Chemical Valley, near Lyon, in a bid to roll out the technology.

Earlier this year, Carbios completed Thanaplast, a five-year €22m programme aimed at developing new industrial processes to improve the production and recycling of biopolymers.

During the final key stage of the study, Carbios said it had demonstrated the ability to synthetise PET oligomers made out of terephthalic acid coming from its bio-recycling process of PET plastic bottles.

The company was subsequently able to successfully produce virgin PET from post-consumer PET plastic bottles treated by enzymatic hydrolysis.

In a written statement to PNE on 4 Dec, a Carbios spokesman explained that this stage of the partnership with Kem one did not involve any financial contribution from either sides and was expected to last 6 months.

“It’s more a question of means and resources on both sides to make this project become a reality,” explained Carbios’ investors relation official Benjamin Audebert.

The plant is currently designed by Carbios’ partner TechnipFMC, a leading French engineering company, and its sizing should be disclosed during the first half of 2019.

The project timeline includes the evaluation of the site and confirmation by H1 2019 and provision of land, utilities, material order and first stone by the end of that year.

Construction is expected to start in 2020, and the plant is set for full operation by H1 2021.

“[The project] dimension should enable us to grant first licenses to PET producers in 2022 and offer them to operate this technology at large industrial scale,” Audebert added.

The potential partnerships, according to the Carbios official, involve the entire value chain of the plastic industry, from collectors, to PET producers, plastic converters, brand-owners as well as enzyme producers that will gain access to a new market. 

Carbios, he added, has a licensing model that aims to accelerate the development of its biorecycling technology and fulfil companies and consumers demand for sustainable solutions.

“This approach should enable, as of 2022/2023, all PET producers worldwide to produce virgin PET plastics from waste plastic (and/or polyester fibres) instead of fossil resources,” the official added.

“The economic vitality of the Chemical Valley and Kem One's site at Saint-Fons seem perfectly suited for the scale-up and subsequent industrial demonstration of our innovative technology,” said Jean-Claude Lumaret, CEO of Carbios in a 4-Dec statement. 

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