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24 October 2019

BP tests breakthrough way to recycle all plastic bottles

BP says it has a way to recycle the major plastic which is currently thought of as un-recyclable. It involves polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste and should lead to it all being diverted from landfill to be transformed into new plastic.

It now plans to build a $25 million pilot plant in the US to prove the technology, before progressing to full-scale commercialization. It calls it it’s Infinia technology seen as an important stepping-stone in enabling a stronger circular plastic economy.

PET is used in plastic for beverage and rigid food packaging and BP says 27 million tonnes a year, with the majority – around 23 million tonnes – used in bottles. At present only 6% of PET makes it through recycling back into new bottles with the rest being downcycled, or going to landfill or incineration.

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

Charles Damianides, vice president of petrochemicals technology, licensing and business development, continued, “BP is committed to fully developing and commercializing 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 says it will put its new pilot plant in Naperville, Illinois and get it working by late 2020 to prove the technology, and then sees the potential to develop multiple full-scale commercial plants around the world.