Driving the circular economy

There’s tension in the world between what a growing population needs and what our natural resources can bear. There are 300 million tons of plastics produced globally every year. Only 16% of that plastic is collected for mechanical recycling. Of the remaining plastics produced, 25% gets incinerated, 40% goes to landfills, and 19% goes to unmanaged dumps or leaks into the environment.

We need a better way to create the products that improve our quality of life and a plan to keep materials out of landfills and in the value chain.

The circular economy: from vision to reality

The circular economy is a bold vision for a world without waste. In a circular economy, what is currently viewed as waste becomes valuable raw materials to supply technologies that produce future products—so fewer natural resources are needed for production. The world can’t achieve a truly circular economy through current production systems and mechanical recycling processes alone.

At Eastman, our experts are already pioneering the shift to circular materials, a shift which includes giving materials an infinite life and richer purpose. This takes passionate problem-solving, world-class technologies, and a willingness to advocate for smart legislation.

The time to act—and advocate—is now.

Our goal is to transform tomorrow by revolutionizing the materials that shape it today.

Our scientific and technical experts have developed proven chemical recycling solutions— carbon renewal technology and polyester renewal technology—for recycling virtually all types of waste plastics, including those that cannot be recycled mechanically such as single-use packaging, textiles, and carpet. Our technologies break waste plastics down to their basic building blocks, so they can be infinitely recycled and reformed into new products without losing quality—or value. We have the expertise to conduct these technologies at scale without waiting decades to build up capacity.

Eastman Advanced Circular Recycling technologies are driving the circular economy.

Carbon renewal technology

This reforming technology gives new life to the most complex waste plastic by recycling flexible packaging, plastic films, polyester carpet and other mixed plastics. The resulting recycled material is indistinguishable from material from fossil feedstocks and can be used in durables, packaging, and textiles. Postindustrial and pre-consumer scrap also feeds into the process. Carbon renewal technology allows material to be recycled an infinite number of times without losing quality. This means recycled materials will have more possible end uses.

carbon renewal technology

carbon renewal process  

Polyester renewal technology

Polyester renewal technology allows us to rescue waste polyesters from the landfill and recycle them through processes called glycolysis and methanolysis, depending on the type of feedstock. This technology reduces polyesters to monomers, which creates a raw material that is indistinguishable from polyester produced from fossil feedstocks. Using polyester renewal technology, low-quality polyester waste can become high-quality polyester suitable for use in a variety of end markets, including food contact applications. Capturing postindustrial waste as feedstock to create new materials delivers a truly circular solution.

Polyester renewal technology

Polyester Renewal Process 

MASS BALANCE: a balanced approach to scale up the circular economy

Eastman’s chemically recycled materials and materials produced from fossil feedstocks are identical in quality and structure, so we use an established, standardized system called mass balance to accurately account for the percentage of recycled content in our materials. Mass balance enables brands to meet their sustainability goals now and over the long term. Plus, our customers gain confidence from purchasing Eastman materials that have earned ISCC Plus certification for recycled content.

Sustainability at Eastman

Eastman is a material innovation company made up of problem solvers. Our technical expertise gives us unique insight for tackling the world’s most pressing problems, like waste plastic in our environment. Through our advanced circular recycling technologies, we are revolutionizing the materials that shape our world today—to transform tomorrow.

Learn what sustainability means to Eastman.

© 2020 Eastman Chemical Company or its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
As used herein, ® denotes registered trademark status in the U.S. only.