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Comment Sustainability

Neste acquires European rights to Alterra Energy’s thermochemical liquefaction technology for plastics recycling

By Mary Page Bailey |

Neste Corp. (Espoo, Finland) has purchased the European rights to the Alterra Energy (Akron, Ohio) liquefaction technology, further solidifying the company’s efforts to advance chemical recycling. Alterra Energy is a U.S.-based company that has developed a proprietary thermochemical solution for liquefaction of hard-to-recycle plastic. In Akron, Ohio, the company is already running an industrial-scale facility that transforms end-of-life plastics into an intermediate product, which can be further refined into raw material for new plastics and other petrochemical products. 

neste

Alterra Energy’s industrial-scale waste plastics liquefaction unit in Akron, Ohio. Photo: Alterra Energy

In 2020, Neste acquired a minority stake in Alterra Energy. Neste has further processed liquefied waste plastic sourced from, among others, Alterra Energy in a series of trial runs at its refinery in Finland. Together with Ravago, Neste also plans to set up a joint venture to deploy the Alterra Energy technology in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. Furthermore, to scale up processing capacities for liquefied waste plastic at its Porvoo refinery in Finland, Neste is currently conducting a feasibility study to examine investing in proprietary pretreatment and upgrading capabilities. Through chemical recycling, the company aims to reduce dependence on virgin fossil resources and accelerate circularity in the production of polymers and chemicals. 

“Acquiring the rights to Alterra Energy’s technology in Europe enables us to offer a holistic solution to our partners,” says Heikki Färkkilä, Vice President Chemical Recycling at Neste Renewable Polymers and Chemicals. “Neste will be able to provide the full chemical recycling package: from waste plastic to product, offering high-quality drop-in feeds for the production of new polymers and chemicals.”

With the clear target to process more than one million tons of waste plastic per annum from 2030 onwards, Neste continues engaging with companies along the plastics value chain. This includes upstream partners such as recycling companies and technology developers, but also chemicals production partners and brand owners looking for more sustainable, circular solutions. 

The ongoing joint technology development between Neste and Alterra Energy and the continued processing of mixed plastic feeds in the Akron facility have given Neste confidence that the Alterra Energy technology is among the winning solutions for the liquefaction of waste plastic material. 

“We are pleased that Neste, a global leader in sustainability, has chosen Alterra Energy’s advanced recycling technology to further accelerate its efforts towards circularity of plastics throughout Europe,” says Frederic Schmuck, CEO of Alterra Energy. “Throughout the rest of the world, we will continue to support petrochemical industry players in meeting their sustainability commitments to brand owners and consumers.”

While Neste has acquired the European rights to the technology, Alterra Energy will continue to operate independently in the rest of the world with the aim of commercializing the technology through licensing. As a partner and shareholder, Neste is committed to supporting the continuous development of Alterra Energy’s technology, establishing it as one of the leading solutions in chemical recycling of plastic waste on a global level. 

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