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Eastman Chemicals to Erect PET Recycling Plant


Eastman Chemicals will invest $250 million in a plant to depolymerize polyethylene terephthalate (PET).  The plant will be erected in Kingsport, TN and will be functional by the end of 2022.  Initially the plant will process 100,000 metric tons of post consumer (PET) waste each year.  Feedstock will include PET packaging and carpet fiber that will be turned into ethylene glycol and dimethyl terephthalate.  This latter compound will be used to produce new plastic products with a saving in use of fossil fuel and emission of greenhouse gases.  Ultimately the plant will process 200,000 tons of plastic by 2030.


Mark Costa, CEO of Eastman Chemicals, noted that the plant was proposed over a decade ago, but it was only recently that the project became viable due to a greater appreciation of sustainability and a change in the economics of plastic recycling.


PET packaging is widely used in the food and egg industries.  Introduction of a plant to recycle the material will have to be complemented by an infrastructure to collect PET packaging from consumers to be transported to Kingsport for processing. 


In a parallel development, SK Global Chemical in partnership with Brightmark will erect a pyrolysis plant in South Korea with a capacity to degrade 100,000 metric tons of post-consumer plastic each year.  Brightmark has a plant soon to commence operation in Ashley, IN and will apply this technology to the proposed facility in South Korea.