Polyester renewal technology

To drive a more circular economy, we use two molecular recycling technologies — polyester renewal and carbon renewal — to create value from waste.

Polyester renewal technology (PRT), a form of molecular or advanced recycling, allows us to divert a range of hard-to-recycle polyester plastic waste, including materials like soft drink bottles, colored and opaque plastic, carpet fibers or even polyester-based clothing from landfills and incinerators.

Eastman’s PRT unzips polyesters, using either glycolysis or methanolysis to convert them back to their basic monomers and create new materials. The molecules produced are indistinguishable from materials made with virgin or nonrecycled content. This process, also known as depolymerization, allows us to recycle polyester waste again and again without degradation over time and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20%–30% at the intermediate level compared to processes using fossil fuels.

Our PRT using glycolysis is operational today in Kingsport, Tennessee. Our new molecular recycling facility that uses the methanolysis process became operational in early 2024.

Circular polyester recycling

The differences in renewal technology

The primary differences are the type of feedstock, or material input used, and the outputs produced. PRT uses polyester plastic, which includes a broad mix of materials like soft drink bottles, carpet or even polyester-based clothing, whereas CRT can take a broad mix of plastic waste as process inputs.

Mechanical recycling