Evonik reveals plan to develop circular plastics

Evonik reports that it will research ways to make its plastic products part of the circular economy, reusing and recycling its waste products for production. Evonik will also increase the use of sustainable raw materials from circular sources in its own production processes, the company said.

It aims to generate additional sales of at least €350 million by 2030.

In mechanical recycling, plastics are sorted, prepared and washed, before being melted and granulated into a recyclate. This procedure is used mainly for thermoplastics and in a similar process for old tires. Evonik aims to help recyclers improve the efficiency and quality of the processes. For example, customized surfactants are used to make sure labels can be removed quickly without leaving residues, while defoamers can simplify washing processes and dewatering agents save energy and time in subsequent drying. Another focus is minimizing the odor of the recyclate.

According to Evonik, its additives can increase the amount of high-quality re-usable recyclate obtained by about 5%. It plans to offer such solutions for about 400,000 metric tons of recyclable plastics by 2025.

Evonik is also working on various chemical recycling technologies for plastic waste that cannot be recycled mechanically. Here, the polymer chains are split to obtain building blocks for the production of new plastics. The company is currently developing a process to facilitate recycling of heavily contaminated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste. New molecules for high-end applications can be obtained via methanolysis.

The company can also provide additives, catalysts, and membranes for the treatment of gas emitted in the controlled incineration of plastic waste. The pyrolysis oils and synthesis gases can be used as raw materials for the production of plastics.

‘The careful use of resources and protection of the climate leads us down the path towards a circular economy,’ said Harald Schwager, deputy chairman of Evonik's executive board. ‘We have the innovative capability to create new materials cycles with fewer fossil-based feedstocks and more circular one.’

This story uses material from Evonik, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.