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SABIC looks to crack waste plastic

Chemical manufacturer SABIC is planning a demonstration plant in the Netherlands to test the use of low quality, contaminated mixed plastic waste as a feedstock for the company’s crackers in Europe.

The feedstock, known as pyrolysis oil, is created by converting the plastic waste that would otherwise go to energy recovery or landfill. The feedstock will be refined and upgraded at the new plant. The facility is due to be built at the group’s Geleen manufacturing site, according to Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh, SABIC’s executive vice president for petrochemicals.

‘We are supporting greatly the mechanical recycling of plastics but we believe that the long term sustainable circular economy will lie in chemical recycling,’ said Al-Fageeh. ‘We are in the process to make sure we have the right technology and of course you have to depend on the value chain of the business.’

Integral to circular economy

Such units could be an integral part in the circular economy model as it helps to create new feedstock supply while at the same time protecting the environment, he added. ‘We are really one of the pioneers for supporting and encouraging for the change of the model from a linear to a circular economy,’ Al-Fageeh said.

He argued this shift towards circularity would require the engagement and support of the value chain, consumers and governments. ‘This starts from the end user of the products, the schools… Everybody needs to be convinced that this is the right thing to do. It may also require some intervention from the governments to make sure that there is some regulation for waste and how to deal and collect with the waste,’ he said.

‘The moment we demonstrate that waste plastic is a really good sustainable feedstock for the crackers, I’m sure it will go to the whole world.’

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