Eastman Secures DOE Funding for Advanced Molecular Plastics Recycling Plant

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
April 3rd, 2024
12:49 PM

Eastman, a leading provider of specialty materials and chemicals, has recently been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a recipient of significant funding for the establishment of its second state-of-the-art molecular plastic recycling facility onshore.


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The Tennessee-based company Eastman stands among 33 distinguished U.S. firms selected to initiate award negotiations, benefiting from up to $375 million in funding allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. This initiative, facilitated by the Industrial Demonstrations Program (IDP), underscores the DOE's commitment to advancing innovative solutions in the realm of sustainability and circular economy practices.

Following the DOE's announcement, Eastman has reaffirmed its dedication to the construction of this pivotal facility. The company has identified Longview, Texas as the strategic location for the plant, a decision that aligns with its mission to bolster regional economic development while spearheading advancements in environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. The establishment of this cutting-edge facility underscores Eastman's ongoing commitment to sustainability and underscores its position as a pioneer in molecular recycling technology. By harnessing the power of advanced recycling methodologies, Eastman aims to address the pressing challenges posed by plastic waste while simultaneously reducing reliance on virgin materials.

Moreover, the initiative exemplifies a collaborative approach towards addressing critical environmental concerns, with the DOE's support serving as a testament to the significance of public-private partnerships in driving meaningful change. Through this venture, Eastman is poised to make substantial strides in revolutionizing the plastics recycling landscape, laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future. The company's steadfast commitment to innovation, coupled with strategic partnerships and government support, underscores its pivotal role in shaping a circular economy that prioritizes resource efficiency and environmental stewardship.


Pioneering Methanolysis Technology: Transforming Plastic Waste into Sustainable Polymers

Eastman's pioneering methanolysis technology represents a significant breakthrough in the realm of plastic recycling, offering a sustainable solution to transform plastic waste into high-quality polymers suitable for a wide array of applications in textiles and packaging. This innovative renewal process operates at the molecular level, effectively breaking down tough-to-recycle plastics and repolymerizing them into materials that match the performance of virgin inputs.

By adopting this approach, Eastman is facilitating the transition towards a circular economy, where valuable molecules remain in continuous production, creating a material-to-material high-yield loop that minimizes waste and maximizes resource efficiency. The recent completion of Eastman's first molecular recycling facility in Kingsport, Tennessee, underscores the company's commitment to advancing sustainable practices. The decision to establish its second plant in Texas was guided by several strategic factors, including synergies with existing infrastructure and operations, favorable energy supply, and access to feedstock pools in the western and central United States.

With support from the DOE's investment, Eastman will enhance its operations for processing mixed plastic waste and construct its molecular recycling unit. This state-of-the-art machinery depolymerizes plastic waste, while complementary facilities on-site create new materials to feed into the textile and packaging supply chains. Upon completion, the facility is projected to recycle approximately 110,000 metric tons of plastic annually, significantly contributing to waste reduction efforts.


Driving Economic Growth and Community Investment

In addition to the DOE funding, Eastman has secured approximately $70 million in incentives from state and local governing bodies to facilitate the construction of the plant. The project is expected to generate 200 full-time positions and around 1,000 temporary construction jobs, further bolstering economic development in the region. With a longstanding presence of over 70 years in Longview, Texas, Eastman is deeply committed to investing in the local community. Mark Costa, Eastman's board chair and CEO, expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its potential to drive meaningful environmental impact and promote circularity. Costa emphasized Eastman's dedication to decarbonization and waste reduction, positioning the new facility as a benchmark for sustainable manufacturing practices.

As part of its commitment to community engagement, Eastman will support the renovation of a community outreach center and provide workforce training and development opportunities. The collaboration with the DOE reflects a shared goal of accelerating the development of low-carbon intensity recycled PET, leveraging onsite renewable energy sources to further reduce carbon emissions. Through these collective efforts, Eastman aims to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions compared to traditional polymer production methods, paving the way for a more sustainable future.