Life Cycle Assessment of Eastman’s Molecular Recycling Process: Methanolysis

Main Presenter: C. Jason Pierce & Patricia Granados 

Co-Authors:

Eastman’s methanolysis technology is a type of material-to-material molecular recycling that enables a diverse variety of difficult-to-recycle waste polyesters to be unzipped (depolymerized) into their constituent monomers. Eastman commissioned Quantis to complete a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental footprint of dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) monomer made by methanolysis to conventional Eastman DMT made from fossil-based raw materials. Eastman uses DMT to manufacture a wide variety of specialty polyester materials. The LCA for methanolysis is based on the design of a 100,000-metric ton methanolysis facility currently under construction by Eastman in the US. The study was critically reviewed by a panel of third-party, independent LCA experts from academia, research, and consultancy.

Some key insights from the study include:

  • DMT from Eastman methanolysis technology has a 29% lower global warming potential than fossil-based DMT.
  • DMT from methanolysis ranks significantly better than fossil-based DMT on 13 out of the 14 environmental impact indicators studied.
  • By using waste plastic as a raw material instead of conventional fossil-based materials, Eastman’s methanolysis technology can deliver benefits for both a circular economy and the environment- helping to create value from waste and enable a responsible circular economy for polyesters.

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