In the summer of 2019, I took my kids on a trip to Kenya to see the beauty of Africa and the wildlife. Driving in the heart of Africa, we saw little communities burning trash, including plastic bottles. My daughters looked at me and said, “Mommy, you need to do something about this.” This moment made me question what else I could do personally to solve this issue and working in the plastic industry gives me the perfect opportunity to be a bigger part of the solution. As such, I am thrilled to lead LyondellBasell’s new Circular and Low Carbon Solutions business unit which allows my team to help to address one of the world’s biggest challenge: plastic waste. Our aim is to create a sustainable business model that will reshape the plastics value chain and create benefits for customers and society. Building this new business unit gives us clear accountability and a differentiated operating model that requires an entrepreneurial mindset. Our team will focus on addressing challenges in plastic feedstock access and developing scalable technologies to enable us to lead in circularity and low carbon solutions.
At LyondellBasell, we want to be the change leaders, fostering innovative solutions that will transform the market for plastics. This is why we announced last month our decision to move forward with engineering to build a commercial-scale advanced recycling plant at our Wesseling, Germany, site. Using LyondellBasell’s proprietary MoReTec technology, this advanced recycling plant is being designed to convert processed mixed plastic waste into feedstock for new plastic production. Our MoReTec technology will help address the challenge of mixed plastic waste, which today mostly ends up in landfills or incineration. MoReTec technology can also address challenging segments like food packaging and healthcare products. This high-yield, differential technology will allow us to convert plastic waste into pyrolysis oil and pyrolysis gas for use in our crackers as feedstock leading to the production of new plastic materials.
Our advanced recycling MoReTec technology is a complementary solution to conventional mechanical recycling, as it enables the conversion of difficult-to-recycle plastic waste into new products. This MoReTec plant is another milestone on our path to becoming the leader in circular and low carbon solutions for our customers.
Our Commitment and Direction
Our goal is to produce and market two million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers annually by 2030. We want to ensure we can offer the full scope of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) packaging solutions our customers and brand owners are asking for to help them meet their recycling commitments by 2025 and 2030. Our strategy is grounded upon our vision to become a leader in the growing market for circular and low carbon solutions and the global supplier of choice for customers and brand owners. To accomplish this, we are:
- Expanding our recycling capacity globally to help address the challenge of plastic waste and support the transition to a circular economy
- Accelerating the development and implementation of a portfolio of scalable recycling technologies
- Investing along the value chain to become a full-solution provider for customers and brand owners
- Growing our recycled and renewable-based product offering through the Circulen portfolio of products
- Offering the plastics and chemicals our customers need to manufacture a wide range of products people use in their everyday lives including food packaging, home furnishings, automotive components, paints and coatings.
The Path to Leadership
In addition to our advanced recycling site plans and our new dedicated Circular and Low Carbon Solutions Business Unit, LyondellBasell is investing in joint ventures (JV) and strategic collaborations in state-of-the-art sorting units. For instance, LyondellBasell is venturing into the upstream side of the business to process the mixed plastic waste and flexible packaging of approximately 1.3 million German citizens yearly. This is all part of a new JV called Source One Plastics, which LyondellBasell formed with German company 23 Oaks Investment. This JV is building a new energy-efficient, advanced plastic waste sorting and recycling facility in Germany and will produce processed waste. The facility will provide a material part of the feedstock for our MoReTec advanced recycling plant being planned in Wesseling.
Additionally, we have signed an agreement to advance development of a first-of-its-kind plastic waste sorting and processing facility in the Houston area with Exxon and Cyclyx. The new facility addresses a critical missing link in the plastic waste supply chain by connecting community recycling programs to new and more advanced recycling technologies that have the potential to take a much wider variety of plastic materials.
We also launched a first-of-its-kind plastics collection program in Kingwood, Texas, aiming to recycle a greater share of the post-use plastic products we use every day – instead of throwing them away. This new program is a part of the Houston Recycling Collaboration launched earlier this year to increase the amount of waste plastics diverted from landfills and to find new recycling options for them that will significantly increase in the city’s plastics recycling rate, leveraging new investments in preprocessing and recycling technologies.
LyondellBasell is expanding our mechanical recycling capabilities, to increase supply of our CirculenRecover products globally. We signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a mechanical recycling JV with Genox Recycling in China to recycle post-consumer plastic waste.
We also signed an MOU to form a JV with Shakti Plastic Industries to build a plastic sorting and mechanical recycling unit in India focused on processing post-consumer waste.
LyondellBasell is collaborating across the value chain to grow our Circulen product offering.
We recently entered into a long-term supply agreement with Envision Plastics to purchase mechanically recycled high-density polyethylene post-consumer resin (HDPE PCR) for use in CirculenRecover single pellet solutions in North America.
Also, LyondellBasell is collaborating with Audi to help close the loop for mixed automotive plastic waste. We are recycling mixed automotive plastic waste and processing it into new plastics using advanced recycling technology. Audi is using this new plastic in the seatbelt buckle covers in the Q8 e-tron. With this project, LyondellBasell and Audi are recycling a stream of material which today is mostly only suitable for energy recovery. This reduces the usage of fossil-based primary materials for the Audi Q8 e-tron and keeps valuable plastic feedstocks in a circular loop.
Final Thoughts and the Path Forward
LyondellBasell is committed to creating more sustainable solutions for our customers and helping to enable a sustainable future for our children. The efforts we have made so far around recycling are just the beginning. We are making bold moves around technologies, investments and collaborations, and covering all major continents. We believe having a future-focused, well-designed, sustainable business model will help to make a circular and low carbon future possible. It is exciting and great opportunities lie ahead of us to advance our sustainability and circularity ambitions. I am truly honored to be a part of it – to help make a difference not only for my daughters to be proud of me but for future generations to come.
The statements in this article relating to matters that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions of management of LyondellBasell which are believed to be reasonable at the time made and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially based on factors including, but not limited to, market conditions, the business cyclicality of the chemical, polymers and refining industries; the availability, cost and price volatility of raw materials and utilities, particularly the cost of oil, natural gas, and associated natural gas liquids; competitive product and pricing pressures; labor conditions; operating interruptions; the supply/demand balances for our and our joint ventures' products, and the related effects of industry production capacities and operating rates; our ability to manage costs; future financial and operating results; benefits and synergies of any proposed transactions; actions by our suppliers and customers, including the use of the Circulen family of products; technological developments, and our ability to develop new products and process technologies and realize the expected benefits therefrom; and our ability to meet our sustainability goals, increase production of recycled and renewable-based polymers. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, which can be found at www.LyondellBasell.com on the Investor Relations page and on the Securities and Exchange Commission's website at www.sec.gov. There is no assurance that any of the actions, events or results of the forward-looking statements will occur, or if any of them do, what impact they will have on our results of operations or financial condition. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they were made and are based on the estimates and opinions of management of LyondellBasell at the time the statements are made. LyondellBasell does not assume any obligation to update forward-looking statements should circumstances or management's estimates or opinions change, except as required by law.