Yes. We use the term molecular recycling in place of chemical recycling because molecular better reflects what we’re doing. At our molecular recycling facilities, we unzip waste materials into their molecular building blocks and rebuild them into new forms—providing an infinite life span for waste materials that were previously destined to end up in landfills, incinerators or, worse, the environment.
Material-to-material recycling refers to technologies where the input to be recycled is material waste and the output is a material that contains recycled content and can be used to make new products. Other technologies may be waste-to-energy or waste-to-fuel technologies where a waste feedstock is processed into energy or fuel.
Eastman has an ambitious, intentional climate strategy, and molecular recycling is a significant part of our pathway to decarbonize. Our technologies have been in commercial operation for two years in the U.S., and studies show that our molecular recycling technologies have 20%–50% fewer GHG emissions than traditional processes for making the building blocks used to create new products. The data have been confirmed by an independent party. We expect even more significant climate gains with our operations in France. With the inherent efficiencies of an integrated French asset and the renewable energy sources available in France, we expect to produce materials with up to 80% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional processes.
It could be operational as early as 2025. A key factor in timing is choosing the facility location. We are evaluating potential site locations as we speak and expect to pick that location in the coming months. At that time, we will provide more clarity on timing for bringing the operation online.
The dual problems of climate change and plastic waste are global problems. While we are based in the U.S., we are a global company with the intention of having a global impact. We have approximately 2,300 colleagues of our global team based in Europe, and almost 30% of our business revenue is derived from Europe. Building a plant in Europe to help meet demand there would have the added benefit of reducing our carbon footprint in shipping to our European customers and other customers outside the U.S. The magnitude of these problems also means the world needs multiple solutions and needs them quickly. We began operation of our recycling program more than 30 years ago and commercialized our technologies in 2019. Our first expansion was in Kingsport because that is where our largest manufacturing facility is located, and we can leverage integration of our assets.
We see great opportunity for our solutions in Europe, considering its leading role in pioneering a global circular economy for plastics. There are multiple reasons why France is our starting point in Europe. We share the same vision and first-mover ambition to tackle the hard-to-recycle polyester plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and have both demonstrated responsibility by setting similar ambitious, voluntary carbon and circular economy goals.
For example, France is trying to improve its recycling capabilities and has come to the realization that mechanical recycling alone will not be sufficient because it does not allow the processing of all types of plastics. The country is, therefore, encouraging innovative technologies (such as molecular recycling) to complement existing techniques and move towards a more circular economy.
Eastman has put sustainability at the very core of its business strategy and is committed to achieving a circular economy. We are excited to work hand in hand with the French government to help them achieve those sustainability goals through our molecular recycling technology.
Eastman is in the process of sourcing and securing the hard-to-recycle plastic waste that France and the EU create. We look forward to sharing more about this milestone in the coming months.
There is a significant unmet need for recycled plastics in a wide spectrum of markets. Many brands have made bold commitments to improve the sustainability of their products and packaging. Eastman already has signed letters of intent with major brands, including LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, and Danone, who intend to purchase materials with recycled content from our facility under multiyear contracts. Many other brands are also interested in supply; however, because we are still in discussions, we are unable to disclose more information at this time.