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Polyethylene terephthalate recycling plant planned for Georgia

Newcomer Revalyu to break ground on depolymerization facility this year

by Alexander H. Tullo
February 1, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 5


A photo of yarn made from recycled polyester.
Credit: Revalyu Resources
Revalyu Resources converts bottles into polyester yarn at its facility in India.

Revalyu Resources, a plastics recycling firm backed by the German electronic and medical materials conglomerate Heraeus Group, plans to build a $50 million plant in Statesboro, Georgia, that will be one of the first in the US to depolymerize waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The firm’s process, in operation since 2016 in India, uses glycolysis to break down PET plastics, such as soda bottles, into bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate, which is converted back to PET via polycondensation. The Indian plant can process about 14,000 metric tons (t) of plastics per year, turning it into polyester yarn.

The plant in Statesboro would process about 35,000 t of plastics per year, and Revalyu is already considering doubling that capacity. The company intends to break ground early this year and complete the plant by 2024.

Vivek Tandon, Revalyu’s founder, tells C&EN in an email that he doesn’t anticipate trouble securing the waste PET necessary to run the Georgia plant. It will process 12 million plastic bottles per day, “which equates to 1 bottle per person per day from just the state of Georgia,” Tandon says.

Revalyu won’t be the first firm to chemically recycle PET in the US. Eastman Chemical is putting the final touches on a methanolysis facility in Kingsport, Tennessee, that will break down PET into dimethyl terephthalate and ethylene glycol. The plant will be able to process 110,000 t of waste annually, and Eastman will use the output to make specialty polyester copolymers.

In an earnings presentation on Jan. 26, the firm said it has “completed installation of all major equipment” and aims to start up the plant early this summer.

Eastman will soon choose a location for a second US plant and has already signed on Pepsi as a major customer. That facility and one planned for France are scheduled to open in 2026.

Another project, from the Canadian firm Loop Industries, has struggled. The company planned a depolymerization joint venture in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with the PET producer Indorama Ventures, but it stopped work on the project in 2020. Loop is selling land in Bécancour, Québec, where it had intended to erect a plant. And it recently reduced working hours at a demonstration plant in Terrebonne, Québec.

Loop says it is focusing its commercialization efforts on a plant in South Korea that it would build with SK Geo Centric, which owns a 10% stake in Loop. Loop is also planning a plant in Europe with Suez.



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