A TotalEnergies plant in La Porte, Texas, has begun converting plastic into polypropylene polymers via chemical recycling, the global petroleum and energy company announced late last month.
The La Porte plant will produce polymers that are suitable for food-grade packaging and other applications, according to a Jan. 30 news release from the company.
“After Europe, this first production of circular polymers from advanced recycling in the United States is a new step forward in our commitment to meeting the global market’s growing demand for more innovative and sustainable plastics, as well as in our ambition to produce 1 million tons of circular polymers a year by 2030,” Heather Tomas, vice president of Polymers Americas at TotalEnergies, said in a written statement.
The announcement marks the latest link in a multi-facility chain across eastern Texas, according to the news release.
New Hope Energy, which uses a patented technology to process mixed plastic that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated, provided the feedstock from its facility in Tyler, Texas. The material was then converted into monomers in Port Arthur by a joint TotalEnergies and BASF facility. TotalEnergies’ polypropylene plant in La Porte then converted the monomers into polymers.
The announcement noted New Hope Energy has signed a multi-year agreement to supply TotalEnergies with petrochemical feedstock.
“We are excited to partner with TotalEnergies in our mutual effort to transform plastic for a cleaner world,” Rusty Combs, New Hope’s CEO. “This supply agreement is an important step towards achieving New Hope’s goal of creating pyrolysis projects at a scale that will materially improve the nation’s plastic recycling performance.”
TotalEnergies, based in France, has been among multiple oil and chemical companies working to establish a chemical recycling foothold in Texas over the past several years, with a particular focus on PP.
Plastic manufacturers tout chemical recycling as a solution to the intertwined problems of unrecycled plastic, polymer degradation in conventional recycling and food safety needs for recycled resin. But the technology has also drawn skepticism from environmental groups, and The Recycling Partnership earlier this year called for transparency and accountability in the industry.
The Tyler, Port Arthur and La Porte facilities involved in TotalEnergies’ process have each received ISCC+ certification, according to the company’s news release. ISCC certifies several principles of sustainability, such as safe working conditions and the protection of soil, water and air.