Recycling plastic a priority at ExxonMobil

New Baytown plant processing 80 million pounds annually

What to do with the millions of pounds of used plastic that the world produces each year has been a problem that was almost too big to address, but the ExxonMobil Corp. is making an ambitious start with the opening of an advanced recycling plant at Baytown on the Texas Gulf Coast and plans to build others around the United States and in Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands and Singapore.

Observing America Recycles Day Nov. 15, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association issued a statement commending ExxonMobil “for their continued innovation and environmental stewardship throughout the value chain.

“Plastics are essential for a broad array of products used in our daily lives, but less than 10 percent is recycled today,” said TIPRO President Ed Longanecker from Austin. “Advanced recycling is a proven technology being developed and utilized by leaders in our industry to turn plastic waste that would otherwise go to landfills or incineration into raw materials that can be used to make many valuable products.”

Longanecker said the Baytown plant is one of the biggest in North America and ExxonMobil’s deployment of the technology nationally and globally will increase the company’s plastics recycling capacity to one billion pounds per year by the end of 2026.

“This serves as yet another example of how our industry continues to innovate and we applaud those efforts,” he said.

ExxonMobil Chairman-CEO Darren Woods said plastics are necessary for computers, mobile phones and vehicles and they help preserve food, deliver clean drinking water and protect against disease, but plastic waste “is a major challenge that we are committed to addressing.

“One way we’re doing that is through advanced recycling,” Woods said from Houston.

“This technology complements mechanical recycling by converting more types of plastics into new products. The rising demand for plastics circularity around the world far exceeds the supply that mechanical recycling provides today.

“Our customers and theirs have goals to use more circular materials in their products and increase the amount of their products that are recycled. Advanced recycling can help consumer brands meet those goals and we’re helping to keep plastics out of landfills and away from incineration.”

Woods said the Baytown plant is up and running with the capacity to process 80 million pounds of plastic waste per year.

“That’s just the start,” he said.

“We’re looking at potential new facilities at other sites in the United States as well as in Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands and Singapore. All told we expect to have the capacity to process a billion pounds per year around the world by the end of 2026.

“Our Baytown plant processes plastic waste that’s difficult to recycle. We’re taking films, plastics with residue from food, motor oil bottles, artificial turf, dry cleaner bags, bubble wrap and more. We combine all this plastic waste with other feed streams and turn it into the building blocks that create a wide range of products including new plastics and high-value chemical products.”

Woods said the process converts 90 percent of the waste into raw materials, adding that the ISCC PLUS-audited approach certifies the process and the new certified circular plastic that’s sold. “This is how our customers can be sure their purchases contribute to giving plastic waste a new life and keep plastics away from landfills,” he said.

“Through my 20-plus years with ExxonMobil I have always known our people to be dedicated to running safe, environmentally responsible operations,” he said. “We have high standards and we’re working toward net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across all our operated assets.”