​Sustainable polymers provider addresses potential shortage of recycled feedstock

KINGSPORT, Tennessee

Global specialty plastics provider Eastman addresses the increasing demand for recycled materials at the 2020 Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show held in Nashville, Feb. 17-19. The 15th annual event brings together the world's leading sustainability voices to discuss complex issues facing the plastics recycling industry. Holli Alexander, Eastman's strategic initiative manager of global sustainability, will participate in a roundtable discussion at the closing session entitled "How to Tackle The Supply-Demand Gap."

"At Eastman, we've pioneered recycling technologies that will define the circular economy for years to come," Alexander said. "Our goal is to work across the value chain to find viable solutions to scale these innovations. Sourcing recycled feedstock presents both a challenge and an opportunity for our channel partners and for the entire industry."

Eastman announced two major recycling initiatives last year. Carbon renewal technology (CRT) is a chemical recycling process that diverts mixed waste plastic from landfills and converts it into simple molecular components that are then reintroduced in the production of a variety of Eastman products. CRT is now operating at scale. In fact, Eastman struck a deal in November 2019 to source feedstock from Circular Polymers, a post-consumer waste reclaimer. The collaboration will divert millions of pounds of discarded carpet from landfills in its first year, according to Mark Costa, Eastman board chair and CEO.

Eastman's second recycling innovation, polyester renewal technology (PRT), formerly known as advanced circular recycling, is a chemical recycling process specifically for polyester waste, including colored PET and copolyesters, which produces virgin-like materials. The first phase of PRT uses glycolysis to disassemble waste PET into its fundamental building blocks, which are then used to produce new polyesters with high levels of recycled content achieved through certified mass balance allocation. A later phase of PRT using methanol to break down a wide variety of waste polyesters will be fully operational by 2022.

The company is leveraging these innovative Advanced Circular Recycling technologies for applications in cosmetics, food and beverage packaging and in its full line of resins for shrink films, including their APR-approved Eastman Embrace Encore™ and Eastman Embrace Float™ copolyesters. With both CRT and PRT, hard-to-recycle plastics can be recycled an infinite number of times to create products that can claim high levels of certified recycled content, creating a closed loop.

At the Plastics Recycling Conference, Alexander will join other sustainability experts to identify possible policy frameworks and market-based strategies that could ensure supply/demand balance as brands seek to move forward with plans to increase their consumption of recycled plastics.

Visit Booth 914 to learn more about Eastman's solutions for plastics recycling.

About Eastman

Founded in 1920, Eastman is a global specialty materials company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With the purpose of enhancing the quality of life in a material way, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. The company’s innovation-driven growth model takes advantage of world-class technology platforms, deep customer engagement, and differentiated application development to grow its leading positions in attractive end markets such as transportation, building and construction, and consumables. As a globally inclusive and diverse company, Eastman employs approximately 14,500 people around the world and serves customers in more than 100 countries. The company had 2019 revenues of approximately $9.3 billion and is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA.

About Eastman in the circular economy

In 2019, Eastman began commercial-scale chemical recycling for a broad set of waste plastics that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated, or worse, end up in the environment. Eastman Advanced Circular Recycling technologies process waste plastics traditional mechanical recycling methods cannot—including polyesters, polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene—derived from a variety of sources, including single-use plastics, textiles, and carpet. These technologies provide a true circular solution of endless recycling for materials, allowing them to be reused repeatedly. For more information, visit eastman.eco.

Editorial Contact

Laura Mansfield, APR