Circular Economy Eastman Selects Normandy Site to Build World's Largest Material-to-Material Molecular Recycling Plant

Source: Press release

Eastman has entered into exclusive negotiations with Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine for developing the mega plant project in Normandy, France. The project, which was announced earlier at the beginning of the year, is expected to recycle approximately 160,000 tons of hard-to-recycle polyester waste annually.

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The many integrated elements of the French facility will enable Eastman to make unique contributions to build a true circular economy for plastics.
The many integrated elements of the French facility will enable Eastman to make unique contributions to build a true circular economy for plastics.
(Source: Deposit Photos)

Paris/France – Eastman has entered an exclusive negotiation with Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine as the preferred location of the molecular recycling facility it plans to build in France. This is an important step toward a significant milestone in the company's plan to invest up to 1 billion dollars and build the world's largest material-to-material molecular recycling plant in France — a facility that will recycle approximately 160,000 tons of hard-to-recycle polyester waste annually.

In the time since Eastman Board Chair and CEO Mark Costa and French President Emmanuel Macron jointly announced the company's planned investment in January, Eastman conducted a selection process of three potential locations and chose to enter exclusive negotiations with Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine in Normandy. This site offers proximity of supply to waste polyester for feedstock, required space for an expansive facility and the necessary infrastructure for operations of this scale. Eastman expects the facility to be operational by 2025.

"We conducted a very thorough assessment process of three excellent candidate sites and selected Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine because it offered the essential elements for constructing and operating a facility of this magnitude," Costa said.

Eastman's proven polyester renewal technology (PRT) is complementary to mechanical recycling and provides true circularity for hard-to-recycle plastic waste that remains in a linear economy today. This material, like colored or degraded PET or textiles, is typically incinerated because it either cannot be mechanically recycled or must be downcycled.

PRT creates potentially infinite value from materials by keeping them in production life cycle after life cycle. With the technology's highly efficient polyester yield of 93 % and the renewable energy sources available in Normandy, Eastman can transform waste plastic into first-quality polyesters with greenhouse gas emissions up to 80 % less than traditional methods.

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The Eastman investment will be a significant economic driver, enabling France to sustain its leadership role in the circular economy. The project will create employment for approximately 350 people and lead to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure. On the topic of job creation, Costa added that the available workforce in Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine is another element that makes it an advantaged location.

"Our molecular recycling operations will need to draw from a highly skilled workforce, and Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine has that workforce," Costa said. "Also, there's clear leadership in the region of Normandy that aligns with our strategic direction. Like Eastman, Normandy has a clear vision and goals to achieve a circular economy."

The many integrated elements of the French facility will enable Eastman to make unique contributions to build a true circular economy for plastics. As a material-to-material recycling plant, Eastman's operations will include on-site polymerization. This provides Eastman the capability to take hard-to-recycle polyester waste and sort, depolymerize and produce recycled PET at a single location. Eastman expects these efficiencies to lower costs for end products with recycled materials, enabling consumers to make more sustainable choices without significantly higher costs. The plant will also reduce the country's carbon emissions by reducing dependency on imported fossil-fuel based products.

This combination has allowed the project to garner support from an impressive roster of leading global brands that share a commitment to solving the world's plastic waste problem and view molecular recycling as a pivotal tool for achieving circularity. LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal and Danone are leading the way by signing letters of intent for multiyear supply agreements from this facility.

"We are committed to offering circular solutions for France and the European Union," Costa said. "We're pleased with this important step to meeting our site selection milestone, and we expect to work diligently through the remaining details during the next few months of exclusive negotiations with the local authorities. We expect to achieve additional milestones in the coming months, including agreements related to securing raw material supply of plastic waste, energy supply, and necessary incentives."

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