Proceeding on the target of commercializing chemical recycling of waste plastic, Neste is conducting a feasibility study to examine investing in capacity for processing liquefied waste plastic at its refinery in Porvoo, Finland.
The goal is to scale up processing capabilities for liquefied waste plastic by implementing proprietary technologies to pretreat and upgrade liquefied waste plastic and integrating the technologies into the refinery operations. The targeted pretreatment and upgrading capacity of this first step is 400,000 tons per year. This development would be a major step towards Neste’s target to process over 1 million tons of waste plastic per year from 2030 onwards.
Producing Drop-in Petrochemical Feeds
To produce drop-in petrochemical feeds from liquefied waste plastic (e.g. pyrolysis oil), intermediate refining is needed to remove detrimental impurities as well as optimize the chemical composition of the material.
“To turn chemical recycling into a viable and industrial-scale feed source for our downstream partners in the polymers and chemicals value chain, we have to bridge the quality gap between unprocessed liquefied waste plastic oil and our customers’ raw material requirements,” explains Mercedes Alonso, executive vice president, renewable polymers and chemicals at Neste. “We are a forerunner in refining liquefied waste plastic into drop-in petrochemical feeds. By scaling up our processing capabilities, we enhance our ability to process hard-to-recycle waste plastics and help enable our value chain partners to deliver substantial volumes of high-quality materials from recycled feedstock.”
Future Plans and Trial Runs
In 2021, Neste successfully concluded the first series of trial runs processing liquefied waste plastic in its Porvoo refinery. Additional trial runs with larger volumes will continue in the course of 2022. While unprocessed liquefied waste plastic is usable for trial-scale runs, continuous processing at industrial scale will require the pretreatment and upgrading step to remove impurities and unwanted components.
“We are excited to continue to develop liquid waste plastic processing capabilities at our Porvoo refinery. The goal is to turn waste plastics into valuable resources and a sustainable replacement for crude oil. The planned new pretreatment and upgrading capabilities are part of our target to be the most sustainable refinery in Europe by 2030, while supporting the transition to circular polymers,” says Markku Korvenranta, executive vice president, oil products at Neste.
To develop and build up the capabilities at its Porvoo refinery, Neste will evaluate possible options for innovation funding and works together closely with local authorities supervising environmental aspects of the investment. Following the feasibility study, investment decision readiness is targeted for 2023 and the gradual implementation is expected to start in 2024.