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BASF commits to chemical recycling

Chemical giant BASF is to invest €20 million into a partnership with a Norwegian pyrolysis specialist to boost the chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste.

Quantafuel’s expertise in the integrated process of pyrolysis and purification will be optimised so the output can used as feedstock in chemical production. In a second step, Quantafuel will license the technology to other parties. The Oslo-based company plans a pyrolysis and purification plant with a capacity of approximately 16 000 tonnes per year at Skive, Denmark, with building work starting this year.

BASF will have first refusal to all pyrolysis oil and purified hydrocarbons from the new plant for the first four years. It will use these secondary raw materials in its patented ChemCycling production project to develop the market for chemically recycled plastics.

At BASF’s Ludwigshafen site, the recycled raw materials will be fed into the production process, partially replacing the dependency on fossil resources. To increase commercial opportunities, the partners plan to build other plants to produce purified hydrocarbons via chemical recycling.

‘The investment underlines BASF’s commitment towards a sustainable use of resources and the development of a circular economy model for plastics,’ says Hartwig Michels, President Petrochemicals, BASF. ‘The partnership is a first step to build up a broad supply base for ChemCycling products. This enables us to support our customers in achieving their sustainability targets.’

Kjetil Bøhn, ceo of Quantafuel added, ‘We are of course honoured that BASF has decided to invest both financial and human resources in our quest to become the leading technology company for recycling of a broad spectrum of mixed plastic waste based on our unique purification step,’ BASF started its ChemCycling project in 2018 and produced early prototypes based on chemically recycled plastic waste – including food packaging for which particularly high quality and hygiene standards apply.

‘On the regulatory side, authorities need to more broadly establish a technology-open definition of recycling, allowing that the use of chemical recycling processes can count towards recycling targets,’ says Michels. ‘Incentives for recycled content should apply equally to all types of recycling and we also need full acceptance of mass balance approaches.’

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