DuPont Teijin Films closes the loop with chemical recycling technology

DuPont Teijin Films closes the loop with chemical recycling technology

April 10, 2019
Press Release: DuPont Teijin Films

DuPont Teijin Films makes a huge leap forward in chemical recycling with the LuxCR depolymerization process

There has been a spate of chemical recycling initiatives announced recently, from the likes of Eastman, ReNew, Plastic Energy, and more. DuPont Teijin Films is the latest to enter the fray, with the unveiling of what it calls its ‘LuxCR depolymerization process’. The new development upcycles post-consumer waste into a variety of BOPET films, which can be used in a range of applications and markets. The use of recycled content is a critical part of DuPont Teijin Films’ circular economy strategy, and the upcycling of PET through the LuxCR process also marks an important step forward in the chemical recycling technology for the wider polyester industry.

Although mechanical recycling will continue to play an important role in the circular economy, the company believes it does have some limitations in terms of physical and mechanical properties of the recycled product over repeated cycles and also in the food-contact compliance area where certain end-use applications are temperature restricted.

The LuxCR process addresses these two issues by depolymerizing mechanically recovered PET flake back into the monomer unit bis(2-hydroxyethylterephthalate) or BHET which is claimed to be ‘chemically indistinguishable from virgin monomer’. This base monomer is then repolymerized into a polyester polymer which is subsequently converted into a wide range of BOPET films. Contamination is removed during the process through a combination of monomer and polymer filtration units and by vacuum extraction which runs for several hours at temperatures between 270-300°C.

Initial commercial launches are planned in the second quarter of this year across a range of packaging formats and will include high-temperature food-contact applications such as ready meal lidding and ovenable flow-wrap structures. A wide and varied range of MYLAR and MELINEX products can be produced using post-consumer recycled content and DuPont Teijin Films is discussing the use in applications as diverse as labels, solar panels, ID cards and many more.

Although the initial focus for the LuxCR process is to provide a feedstock to DuPont Teijin Films’ own film manufacturing lines, feasibility studies are ongoing to see if the scope can be extended to include the external sale of polymer which would open up the technology to applications such as PET bottles and trays.  There is also work ongoing to assess the feasibility of collecting and recycling MYLAR and MELINEX post-industrial waste from DuPont Teijin Films’ direct customers.

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