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Comment Sustainability

Axens and Toray Films Europe considering new PET chemical recycling plant in France

By Mary Page Bailey |

Axens (Rueil-Malmaison, France) and Toray Films Europe announced their collaboration to study a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chemical recycling facility at Toray Films Europe production site in Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost (Ain, France).

New units based on Axens’ Rewind PET technology will be coupled with Toray Films Europe’s existing polymerization plant in order to recycle annually 80,000 tons of difficult-to-recycle PET plastic waste. Joined efforts of both parties in their domain of expertise will allow the emergence of competencies for chemical recycling circularity. 

Post consumers PET plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and are currently down-cycled, incinerated or landfilled, will be converted into high-quality Circular PET chips, closing the loop for this material with potentially infinite recycling.

Rewind PET process, developed by IFP Energies nouvelles, Axens and JEPLAN, involves an optimized – glycolysis based – PET depolymerization combined with specific purification steps aiming at removing all organic and inorganic compounds present in waste PET, including colorants and pigments. The product is a purified BHET (BHET: Bis(2-HydroxyEthyl) Terephthalate) monomer. 

BHET monomer will then be processed in Toray Films Europe existing continuous polymerization plant to produce up to 100% recycled transparent food contact PET for films, fiber and bottles applications.

The project is currently in its engineering phase, and targets start-up of the first Rewind PET train leading to an annual production of 30,000 tons of recycled PET, by the end of 2025 (phase 1). With the addition of a second Rewind PET train by the end of the decade, the polymerization plant will be used at full capacity to produce 100%  recycled PET (phase 2). This investment will create additional direct and indirect jobs at and in relation with Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost industrial site, benefitting from ideal existing infrastructures, in particular for the waste feedstock supply.

“Teaming up with Toray Films Europe, joining our competencies, provides a great opportunity to accelerate the industrial implementation of PET chemical recycling based upon our Rewind® PET process. We believe it is more efficient, from a technical, social, economic and environmental point of view, to leverage existing expertise and assets and turn them to circular, rather than restarting from scratch. The feedback from Brand Owners is positive and supportive, and we are now focusing on securing the waste feedstock for the project,” Stéphane Fédou, Plastic Circular Economy Vice-President at Axens.

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