BASF’s ChemCyclingTM project

Dr. Andreas Kicherer with a sample of pyrolysis oil from plastic waste in front of the Steamcracker

BASF launched its ChemCyclingTM project in 2018 with the aim of manufacturing products from chemically recycled plastic waste on an industrial scale. With a focus on plastic waste for which no high-value value recycling processes are established yet, ChemCyclingTM is complementary to mechanical recycling. Examples of waste plastics which are difficult to recycle mechanically include mixed plastic waste, plastics with residues or multi-layer food packaging.

In the ChemCyclingTM project, BASF cooperates with technology partners who use a thermochemical process called pyrolysis to transform the plastic waste into raw material (pyrolysis oil). The oil is then fed into BASF’s chemical production Verbund at the beginning of the value chain (e.g. steam cracker), thereby replacing fossil feedstock. In the pilot phase, BASF presented first prototypes with customers. These include mozzarella cheese packaging, transparent refrigerator components and insulation boxes for sensitive applications. In 2020, first commercial products were launched by customers in the German market.

BASF has established partnerships with Quantafuel, Pyrum and New Energy. Quantafuel is a specialist for pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste and purification of the resulting oil, Pyrum and New Energy are specialized in the pyrolysis of end-of-life tires. BASF will use the pyrolysis oil from end-of-life tires as an additional raw material source next to oil from mixed plastic waste, the use of which is the long-term focus of the ChemCyclingTM project. With these partnerships, BASF has taken a significant step towards establishing a broad supply base for pyrolysis oil and towards offering customers products based on chemically recycled plastic waste on a commercial scale.