(Photo: Courtesy of Chevron Phillips Chemical)
For most people, recycling ends when they drop the plastic water bottle or to-go container in the recycle bin. Most of us don’t think twice about it – or we assume that the next container we pick up is made up of recycled bits of plastics that we used last month or last year.
In fact, the recycling process is much more complex. For decades, collecting and sorting different plastics for recycling has been complicated and time-consuming, leading much of America’s recyclable plastic materials to be shipped overseas to China or, worse, sent directly to landfills, limiting the plastic to a single lifecycle.
With an increased focus on sustainability and the goal of making each molecule of plastic last for multiple use cycles, America’s petrochemical industry is looking at molecular recycling as a way to give the items we use every day a new life.
To that end, Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) has pioneered the first ever commercial-scale production of polyethylene using these advanced recycling technologies. This process converts plastic waste and other difficult-to-recycle plastics into building blocks for new materials, including specialty chemicals and fuels. The game-changing elements to molecular recycling is the ability to repeatedly recycle post-use plastics into new materials.