Working towards a circular economy for plastics

Conversion: turning it into raw materials, Borealis

Chemical recycling, a part of the solution for closing the loop

Borealis is driving the transition from a linear to a circular economy. Borealis has developed a strategic framework to move its PO business stepwise towards a circular economy, developing ‘Circular Economy Solutions’ to cover all possible circular offerings for customers, from renewable-based feedstock to chemical recycling. In addition, the Borealis membership of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy endorses this leading position.

Chemical Recycling - The circular cascade model. Source: Borealis

The Borealis circular cascade model is designed to achieve a fully circular economy by combining selected technologies in a complementary and cascading manner. Its goal is to give plastic products multiple lifetimes in the most sustainable way possible. The process starts with optimizing product design for eco-efficiency, re-use, and recycling. Once a product reaches the end of its life, the plastics loop is closed through mechanical recycling, which produces high-value products with low carbon footprint. Chemical recycling is also utilised to further extract value from residual streams that would otherwise be incinerated or sent to landfills. Borealis uses its Borcycle™ recycling technology, including Borcycle M for mechanical recycling and Borcycle C for chemical recycling, to process the valorized materials. These high-quality solutions can be used in more sophisticated applications, such as food packaging and healthcare.

To advance the circular economy, Borealis believes it is essential to develop a chain of custody, paying particular attention to the standardisation of an industry-wide approach to the mass balance model throughout the production process and value chain.

Borealis and OMV have started to collaborate in a chemical recycling partnership for the innovative ReOil® project. Fully integrated into the OMV’s Schwechat refinery, the OMV ReOil® pilot plant has a processing capacity of up to 100 kg per hour, equivalent to 100 litres of synthetic crude. This crude is processed into feedstock for Borealis to produce high quality polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) from it again, which can then in turn be used for a wide variety of demanding applications.

Borealis is driving a collaborative project in Sweden to increase the supply of chemically recycled feedstock for the manufacture of more circular base chemicals and plastic products

Borealis is conducting a feasibility study for a chemical recycling unit at its production location in Stenungsund, Sweden. The study is being carried out in partnership with Stena Recycling and is partially funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. The goal is to accelerate the transformation to circular plastics by integrating more chemically recycled feedstock via the mass balance model. Read more here.

Want to know more about this Chemical recycling project?