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Eastman rolls out first co-polyester resulting from molecular recycling

Alissa Demorest

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Eastman rolls out first co-polyester resulting from molecular recycling

Tritan, one of US-based materials specialist Eastman’s leading products within its Specialty Plastics division, is now available in a new grade, Tritan Renew, composed of up to 50% recycled content. We spoke with Glenn Goldman, Eastman Commercial Director for Specialty Plastics about the advantages of molecular recycling and Tritan Renew’s potential for cosmetics applications.

Tritan is one of Eastman’s bestsellers. What does Tritan Renew bring to the table?

Tritan Renew is the first co-polyester product in our portfolio launching with the Renew proposition. Through our molecular recycling technology we are able to offer products with high levels of recycled content without impacting the material’s performance. In the case of Tritan Renew, the clarity, durability and chemical resistance are identical to the original polymer.

Tritan Renew has 50% recycled content?

Yes, that’s our starting point, and we have a pathway to a significantly higher percentage, but not quite to 100%.

Can Tritan Renew be lightweighted?

Beyond the material’s recycled content, there is also the possibility to obtain other sustainability objectives. Obviously it depends on the specific product and its starting point, but a number of our materials do offer the possibility of lightweighting.

How is this material a good fit for cosmetics products?

The connection to cosmetics is two-fold. First of all, we’ll soon be introducing a significant number of our existing cosmetics products with Renew’s recycled content. The proposition there will be identical: same performance in terms of clarity, processability and chemical resistance, but with a high level of certified recycled content.

Secondly, Tritan has historically been used in a number of durable applications. With cosmetics companies increasingly looking to refillable and reusable packaging formats, we see Tritan and Tritan Renew as a very good fit for these products.

What are your ambitions for Tritan Renew for cosmetics?

Our plan for cosmetics is much broader than Tritan Renew; we offer dozens of products for this market. Ultimately we’d like every one of the co-polyster products that we sell into the cosmetics market to contain recycled content—that’s our aspiration.

You’ve also launched a new generation Treva?

Yes, Treva Renew, which now offers 23% recycled material in addition to its bio-content. This combination makes for a total of 71% sustainable materials.

Are your clients willing to pay more for a more sustainable solutions?

Time will tell, but we are seeing brand owners increasingly willing to accept a slight premium for more sustainable materials. I think that with the way these materials are being priced, there will be quite a bit of enthusiasm to adopt these solutions.

How does molecular recycling (as opposed to mechanical recycling) fit into the proposition?

Molecular recycling is so called because the waste plastic is “unzipped” or converted back into its molecular form and then rebuilt into the polymers that eventually become packaging or other items.

The technology allows us to offer high levels of certified recycled content; we divert waste that would otherwise go to landfill and use that as feedstock for our manufacturing, which also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional fossil fuel manufacturing. Molecular recycling has a tremendous sustainability advantage without diminishing the material’s performance.

Another advantage is that it is truly a drop-in solution. Technically there are no barriers, so brands that are already using Tritan, for example, will have no issues, formula compatability or otherwise, in adopting the Renew grade.

How do you see both molecular and mechanical recycling evolving in the future?

The two should coexist; there is a necessity for both technologies as they are complementary.

It is still early days for molecular recycling technologies, so like anything new, it takes time to educate all the stakeholders on the benefits and the necessity of these technologies to build a circular approach, but even very recently we’ve seen tremendous progress on that front.


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