Eastman in the Circular Economy – How Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Enables Commercial Scale Molecular Recycling | AIChE

Eastman in the Circular Economy – How Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Enables Commercial Scale Molecular Recycling


Conference Presentation

Conference Type

AIChE Annual Meeting

Presentation Date

November 9, 2021


30 minutes

Skill Level




The global plastic waste crisis and climate change are two of the greatest challenges of our time. The world desperately needs a materials revolution to help address both. Eastman continuously strives to enhance the sustainability of our products and manufacturing processes, and uses life cycle assessment (LCA) as a holistic approach to quantify the potential environmental impacts of a product or activity throughout its life cycle — from raw material and resource extraction, to manufacture, consumer use, and end of life. Results from LCA studies can be used to inform decisions at many levels, including material selection, design considerations, corporate strategy, and policy. Eastman is advancing circular economy solutions for plastics through innovative molecular recycling technologies that transform difficult-to-recycle plastic wastes into raw materials for producing new specialty plastics and fibers with no compromise in quality or performance. The plastic waste streams include pigmented materials, mixed plastics, post-consumer carpet, used clothing, and reject streams from traditional mechanical recycling.

This talk will focus on Eastman in the Circular Economy: how molecular recycling technologies are enabling Eastman to lead in addressing plastic waste issues and how LCA has enabled decisions that address the plastic waste issue while simultaneously improving overall carbon footprint. The talk will discuss at a high level the life cycle environmental impacts of two commercial-scale Eastman facilities for advanced molecular recycling of waste plastics in the US – Polyester Renewal Technology (PRT) and Carbon Renewal Technology (CRT). PRT is a depolymerization process for difficult-to-recycle polyester wastes; CRT is a reforming process for recycling of mixed plastic wastes. Both technologies break plastic waste into molecular building blocks which are directly used to produce a variety of specialty plastics and fiber materials. Eastman is dedicated to sharing our learnings with other value chain partners to help our world meet important greenhouse gas reduction goals while building and supporting a more circular economy.


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