Closing The Loop On Used Plastic
Over the last decade, environmental sustainability has become a key watchword for governments, businesses, and consumers. The issue sits at the top of the global agenda and has triggered a more acute focus on the environmental impact of everyday consumer products.
Plastics are at the centre of this debate, as materials which fulfil essential roles from serving as durable, hygienic packaging for food and medicines, to forming the building blocks of consumer devices and transportation. The issue of how to prevent plastic from becoming waste is under the global spotlight and has made more urgent the need to find alternative sustainable solutions.
At SABIC, we are committed to keeping used plastics within the value chain and to creating materials which can be reduced, reused, repurposed and recycled. This aligns with our core values and we have been at the forefront of developing greener solutions through scientific innovation and strategic collaborations.
SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio and services showcase our circular innovations, giving manufacturers access to more sustainable materials. Through TRUCIRCLE, manufacturers can give the end-consumer more confidence about buying products with the knowledge that the material can be recycled and repurposed, or that it has been produced in a way that can help protect natural resources.
TRUCIRCLE spans five major solutions and services which together, are designed to drive a global circular economy. The solutions include mechanically recycled products, certified circular products produced through advanced recycling, and certified renewables products from bio-based feedstock. Each of these solutions play an important role and can together help to address the challenges in keeping used material in the value chain.
The portfolio also offers services to aid the development of products that have improved recyclability and to facilitate closed loop initiatives with players across the value chain. SABIC and partners recently completed a trial project with Tesco to demonstrate – for the first time – that closing the loop is possible and flexible plastic can be continuously recycled into safe, food grade packaging using advanced recycling methods.
The use of advanced recycling (otherwise known as chemical recycling) is a key driver of the circular economy for plastics and is a complimentary process to other circular recycling processes like mechanical recycling. Advanced recycling technologies enable used and typically hard-to-recycle plastics to be broken down to a molecular level before entering the production chain as feedstock to produce new products, therefore substituting fossil-based materials. In this way, we can harness the inherent value of plastic.
SABIC is set to significantly upscale the production of certified circular polymers with the construction of our world-first advanced recycling unit in Geleen, the Netherlands which is set to open in the second half of 2022. The pioneering facility is a collaboration between SABIC and Plastic Energy and builds on our existing efforts to produce and commercialize certified circular polymers since early 2019. The new facility can help reduce landfill waste and dependence on natural resources by enabling the development of plastics that can be repeatedly recycled without compromising on safety or quality.
Our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio has received unprecedented interest from companies in packaging and beyond who are looking for more commercially and environmentally viable solutions which can help to address the plastic waste challenge. We have worked with Unilever (Magnum & Knorr®), Estee Lauder Companies, Mars Incorporated and many more to create food and personal care packaging using our certified circular polymers.
SABIC is committed to providing its industry partners with innovative sustainable solutions that positively impact consumer purchasing decisions. However, securing an end to plastic waste and creating a truly circular economy will depend on successful collective action and collaboration. To that end, SABIC actively collaborates with major industry players through the Polyolefins Circular Economy Platform (PCEP) which provides a forum for all organisations and stakeholders in the polyolefin value chain to exchange ideas and work together to maximise innovation. SABIC is also a founding member of the non-profit organization Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), which aims to bring collective knowledge, resources, and experience to address current waste management challenges.
As an industry, we need to work alongside the entire value chain through platforms and organisations which look to put an end to plastic waste. We continue to evaluate advancements in technologies, solutions and collaborations which can stimulate the right conditions to create a circular economy for used plastics.