Eastman in the Circular Economy
What is the circular economy?
Historically, the world has operated in a linear economy where raw materials were extracted or harvested to make products. Those products would be used and disposed of as waste. A circular economy focuses on making the most of the world’s resources – minimizing waste and maximizing value – by providing end-of-life solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle products and materials that typically end up in landfills and waterways.
The challenges associated with plastic waste require collaboration between all the players in the value chain. By harnessing our specialized skills and experience, together we can significantly impact the world’s recycling capacity, creating real and actionable solutions particularly for materials that are challenging to recover with existing technologies. Eastman’s scientific and technical resources enable a set of circular solutions and create value for plastics and textiles that would otherwise be considered waste. We have developed, operated and proven technologies that unlock value in plastic waste that cannot be recycled or is difficult to recycle today. We know these solutions need partnerships to develop them rapidly and give them the scale that the challenges demand.
Eastman commends efforts by brand owners and others in the value chain to build circularity into product and packaging design. Our advanced solutions can complement mechanical recycling to help them rapidly achieve their ambitious goals for waste reduction and their commitments to using sustainable materials, including recycled content. Eastman is actively seeking partners to help expand the capacity of our circular solutions and deliver innovative recycling technologies that unlock new value in plastic. More importantly, we can work together to help provide solutions that help address the global waste problem.
We know that sustainable solutions to plastic waste and pollution are in reach, and we are determined to play our part in the world’s collective response. Eastman’s portfolio of circular solutions includes:
Advanced circular recycling complements basic mechanical recycling. Through methanolysis, polyester materials are taken back to their polymer building blocks. These building blocks can then be reintroduced to the production of new polyester-based polymers, delivering a true circular solution. Advanced circular recycling technology can be an especially impactful solution, as low-quality polyester waste that would typically be diverted to landfills can instead be recycled into high-quality polyesters suitable for use in a variety of end markets, including food contact applications.
Carbon renewal technology is capable of recycling some of the most complex plastic waste, including non-polyester plastics and mixed plastics that cannot be recycled with conventional recycling technologies. With this new recycling technology, materials such as flexible packaging and plastic films, among others, can be diverted from landfills. By modifying the front end of Eastman’s cellulosics production stream, carbon renewal technology converts plastic waste back to simple and versatile molecular components. The process partially oxidizes the waste plastic, converting the feedstock input at very high efficiency, back into the basic building blocks of Eastman’s cellulosics product lines that serve industries such as ophthalmics, durables, packaging, textiles and nonwovens.