Neste forms partnerships to collaborate on renewable PET production

Article by Kerry Hebden

Neste's renewable Neste RE is a pure high-quality feedstock used in plastics production that is made entirely out of renewable and recycled raw materials.

NESTE, an oil company that also produces renewable fuels and other sustainable products, is partnering with Suntory, ENEOS, and Mitsubishi Corporation to manufacture PET (polyethylene terephthalate) resin made with renewable Neste RE on a commercial scale.  

Neste RE is a feedstock used in plastics production that is made entirely out of renewable and recycled raw materials.  

The renewable component of Neste RE is produced from 100% bio-based raw materials, mostly from waste and residue oils and fats, such as used cooking oil. Renewable hydrocarbons in a liquid form or gaseous renewable propane can also be used.  

Neste produces its renewable products based on its proprietary NEXBTL refining technology at its own facilities in Porvoo, Finland, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Singapore.  

NEXBTL, which stands for “next generation biomass to liquid”, uses a catalytic process called hydrodeoxygenation, that removes oxygen atoms with hydrogen atoms to create a pure hydrocarbon with high energy density. 

The hydrocarbons are then isomerised to create a variety of renewable end products such as diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel or renewable feedstock for polymers and chemicals production.  

The recycled component of Neste RE consists of chemically recycled plastic waste, the type that cannot be recycled mechanically, such as coloured, multilayered or multi-material packaging and films. 

During the process, waste plastic is liquefied in a thermochemical liquefaction process, which turns it into a material similar to crude oil. Liquefied and pretreated waste plastic is then used to partly replace crude oil as refinery raw material. 

Neste says the plastics and chemicals based on chemical recycling are of high quality and can replace products based on virgin fossil resources in any application.  

As part of the new partnership, ENEOS will use bio-intermediates based on Neste RE to produce bio-PX (bio-paraxylene) at its Mizushima refinery in Okayama, Japan.  

The bio-PX will then be converted to PTA (purified terephthalic acid) and subsequently to PET resin for Japanese beverage company Suntory to use in their manufactured PET bottles. Mitsubishi Corporation will be coordinating the collaboration between the value chain partners.   

Lilyana Budyanto, head of sustainable partnerships APAC at Neste, said: “In order to tackle the imminent climate crisis and its consequences, companies are required to take responsibility now. Through partnering along the value chain, Neste can contribute to reducing the polymers and chemicals industry’s dependence on fossil resources as well as to manufacturing of products that have a lower carbon footprint.” 

Circularity problems

PET is one of the most used plastic packaging materials in the world, and is 100% recyclable, over and over. Despite this, however, a report by Zero Waste Europe last year showed that plastic recovered from bottles in Europe does not make its way back into new PET bottles. Instead, most recycled PET is used in other lower-grade PET applications such as trays, film, strapping or fibres – with new bottles placed on the market containing an average of just 17% of recycled PET, even though PET bottles have a recycling rate of around 50%. 

Accordingly, significant improvements in PET design, collection and recycling are needed to improve circularity, the report says. 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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