Eastman to Recycle PET Carpet into New Materials
Kingsport, TN, November 6, 2019-Eastman has reached an agreement to give new life to one of the most problematic waste materials in U.S. landfills, post-consumer carpet. The material will now be recycled through Eastman’s carbon renewal technology and converted into new materials to serve new and useful purposes.
Eastman has partnered with Circular Polymers, a company that reclaims post- consumer waste products for recycling. Through this agreement, Eastman has secured a consistent source of feedstock for carbon renewal technology, an innovative chemical recycling method that recently began commercial operation at Eastman’s primary manufacturing site in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“Our work with Circular Polymers will divert millions of pounds of carpet from landfills in the first year of our agreement,” said Mark Costa, Eastman board chair and CEO. “Securing consistent sources of feedstock is an important element of our circular solutions platform, as it ensures we can provide Eastman customers with materials that contain certified recycled content. This is our first announcement on sourcing feedstocks for our chemical recycling technologies, and there will be more to come.”
Carpet pulled from houses and commercial buildings is a particularly problematic landfill item because transport is not easy-carpet is heavy and bulky-and there is a lot of it. More than three billion pounds of carpet were sent to U.S. landfills in 2018, according to Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE).
Under this agreement, Circular Polymers will collect polyester carpet from homes and businesses and recycle it at the company’s California reclamation facility, where they utilize a unique processing technology that efficiently separates the PET fiber from the carpeting. Circular Polymers densifies the fiber, which enables its efficient transport by railcar to Eastman’s Tennessee manufacturing site for chemical recycling, where it will produce new materials with certified recycled content. Those materials will be used to produce products used in Eastman markets, including textiles, cosmetics and personal care, and ophthalmics.
This announcement comes less than a year after Eastman first announced its intention to prioritize meaningful contributions to the circular economy.
Eastman expects to use up to 50 million pounds of waste plastic in carbon renewal technology operations in 2020, and projects are currently underway to significantly expand that amount.