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Advancing Shell’s commitment to the plastic circular economy and chemical recycling technology

GO CIRCULAR

Advancing Shell’s commitment to the plastic circular economy and chemical recycling technology

Shell's latest investment in the plastic circular economy at the Shell Chemicals Park Moerdijk, in The Netherlands will be helping to transform plastic waste into ingredients our customers can use to make more products from recycled materials. Products that we all use in everyday life. - Robin Mooldijk

Shell, along with many others, is concerned about plastic waste in the environment and we want to play an active role in finding lasting solutions to this challenge. In addition to being a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, we are working to make the plastics value chain more to circular, reducing the need for virgin fossil materials and meeting customer demand for more recycled products. These steps support Shell’s ambition to recycle one million tonnes of plastic waste in its chemicals plants by 2025.

Building our second upgrader at Moerdijk

Through this investment at Moerdijk, Shell will build a new pyrolysis oil upgrader. The upgrader improves the quality of pyrolysis oil (a liquid made from chemically recycling plastic waste) making it suitable for the production of new chemicals at our facilities in The Netherlands and Germany. Expected to start production in 2024, the upgrader unit will have a capacity of 50,000 tonnes per annum, which is the equivalent to the weight of about 7.8 billion plastic bags. This is Shell’s second investment in an upgrader after commissioning our first in Singapore in 2021.

The two upgraders are one element of Shell’s commitment to invest, and collaborate with others, to drive greater circularity in the plastics value chain. Other developments include our strategic partnership and investment in BlueAlp’s plastic waste to chemicals technology; our supply agreements in the United States with Nexus , Pryme in Europe and Environmental Solutions Asia in Singapore; and building strategic alliances with waste management and recycling companies like Remondis and Wah & Hua.

Recognition of chemical recycling in a plastic circular economy

However, if we are to meet customer demand for more circular chemicals, Shell, like other companies, needs chemical recycling technology to be recognised by governments in Europe and in other countries at the same level as mechanical recycling. In addition to important initiatives to reduce and reuse plastic products, chemical recycling is a complementary solution alongside mechanical recycling to help countries meet recycling targets and tackle plastic waste.

Chemical recycling can help recycle post-consumer and industrial plastic waste that cannot be mechanically recycled and would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. This includes plastics that are contaminated, for example the packaging of ready meals or plastics that have multiple layers and are difficult to separate, like crisp/snack bags. The right policy frameworks that recognise the contribution of chemical recycling will allow the technology to scale, drive demand for more recycled products and we believe achieve a more circular economy for plastics.

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