California reclaimer Circular Polymers will ship densified polyester carpet fiber to Eastman for chemical recycling. | Courtesy of Circular Polymers

Densified PET fiber from post-consumer carpet will ride railcars from California to Tennessee, where chemical giant Eastman will feed it into a gasification process. 

Kingsport, Tenn.-headquartered Eastman announced an agreement to source recovered PET carpet fiber from Lincoln, Calif.-based Circular Polymers. 

Circular Polymers uses a unique mechanical technology to break carpet into its different plastic and calcium carbonate components so they can be efficiently recycled. 

According to a press release, Circular Polymers will densify the polyester fiber and ship it via rail to Kingsport, where Eastman will use it to feed its “carbon renewal technology.” The recently unveiled technology breaks down the plastic into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which Eastman uses to create chemical intermediate products, which will then be used in a number of applications. 

“Our work with Circular Polymers will divert millions of pounds of carpet from landfills in the first year of our agreement,” Mark Costa, Eastman board chair and CEO, stated in the press release. “This is our first announcement on sourcing feedstocks for our chemical recycling technologies, and there will be more to come.”

Loose PET fiber from carpet. | Courtesy of Circular Polymers

Eastman plans to process up to 50 million pounds of scrap plastic with its carbon renewal technology in 2020. The company uses simple molecules derived from the scrap plastic to make a plastic it calls Trēva. 

Eastman recently showcased Trēva products at the Luxe Pack Monaco show. 

“Our carbon renewal technology is already operating at commercial scale capacity, so we are actively pursuing additional feedstock opportunities to realize a material impact as quickly as possible,” Steve Crawford, Eastman senior vice president and chief technology and sustainability officer, stated in the release. 

Circular Polymers has also signed an agreement to supply PP recovered from carpet to PureCycle Technologies. PureCycle is commercializing a technology, first developed by Procter & Gamble, that recycles scrap PP while removing inks and other contaminants.

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