Aramco, TotalEnergies, and SABIC have achieved a significant milestone by converting plastic waste into certified circular polymers.
The innovative project, carried out at the SATORP refinery in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, marks the first time this process has been accomplished in the region. The aim of the initiative is to establish a domestic value chain for advanced plastic recycling, addressing the challenge of end-of-life plastics.
The project utilizes plastic pyrolysis oil (PDO), a form of oil derived from plastic waste, as a feedstock to produce circular polymers. This approach allows for the use of non-sorted plastics that are typically difficult to recycle mechanically. By adopting this method, the project contributes to solving the issue of plastic waste and promotes a more sustainable approach to plastic recycling.
One of the crucial achievements of the project was obtaining ISCC+ certification, which ensures transparency and traceability of the recycled feedstock and products. The certification was acquired by three industrial plants involved in the process: the SATORP refinery, Aramco’s Ju’aymah NGL Fractionation Plant, and PETROKEMYA, a SABIC affiliate. This certification enables the production of circular materials and reinforces the project’s commitment to sustainability.
Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Aramco’s President of Downstream, emphasized the significance of the petrochemical sector in creating sustainable solutions and products. Aramco aims to develop circular solutions for plastic waste while working towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050. Al Qahtani stated that leveraging spare capacity of existing infrastructure allows for the production of scalable circular products at a low cost. Aramco is actively exploring various avenues to integrate new technologies and leverage existing assets to support the deployment of circular, sustainable, and low-carbon products.
Bernard Pinatel, President of Refining & Chemicals at TotalEnergies, expressed the company’s commitment to addressing the challenge of plastic waste by engaging in advanced plastic recycling initiatives. Pinatel mentioned that TotalEnergies is studying several other circular economy projects, drawing on the technical expertise and experience of its partners. The company aims to produce 30% of circular polymers by 2030 as part of its strategy to become a multi-energy company and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Sami Al-Osaimi, SABIC EVP Petrochemicals (A), highlighted SABIC’s dedication to sustainable growth and supporting Saudi Vision 2030, focusing on the environment, energy, and climate. Al-Osaimi stated that the project aligns with SABIC’s commitment to avoid landfill and incineration through innovation and advanced technology. SABIC recently announced its target of producing one million metric tons of TRUCIRCLE solutions by 2030, aiming to provide customers with more sustainable options.
Both SABIC and TotalEnergies are founding members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a non-profit organization that brings together industry expertise and resources to address global waste management challenges. This collaborative effort emphasizes their commitment to finding solutions and contributing to a more sustainable future.
The successful conversion of plastic waste into certified circular polymers in the Middle East and North Africa is a significant step towards establishing a circular economy for plastics. The project demonstrates the importance of collaboration across the petrochemical value chain and highlights the potential for innovative recycling technologies to address environmental challenges effectively.