Eastman has underlined Normandy’s place as an industrial region for the future by opening the biggest molecular recycling facility in the world in Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine (76). What’s the idea? Decarbonisation and virtuous economy.

A billion euro project

The US giant’s factory is the biggest in the world: it will recycle up to 160,000 metric tons of hard-to-recycle plastic waste annually. “That’s enough to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times,” says Johan Rousseau, vice-president of operations at Eastman Chemical Company.

The aim is to improve the recycling process for impossible or hard-to-recycle plastic waste by focusing on plastic waste with a high polyester content. The technique is called molecular recycling and uses methanol as a solvent to break down the chemical bonds in plastics.

A land with real assets

So why choose Normandy? First of all, it’s in a prime location (as other facilities have noted). Normandy provides real logistics (river, rail) and fast connections to major cities such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, London and Berlin. The group was also swayed by the administrative support provided by the likes of AD Normandie, the business development agency. “Normandy is in a strategic location in the middle of Europe. It made sense for us to open our factory here (…), especially since the Region helped us to settle in and handle the administrative side of things. It’s a real asset! “ says Johan Rousseau.

The Normandy ecosystem also provides opportunities for synergy. Normandy is an industrial area producing plastic waste, which presents logistical advantages when it comes to the circular economy. This waste is usually incinerated because it can’t be recycled mechanically or because it isn’t as effective once processed using existing technology.

molecular plastic recycling

A virtuous job-creating industry

The company has developed several recycling processes for impossible or hard-to-recycle plastics to help combat climate change and transition to a circular economy. “There’s clear leadership in the region of Normandy that aligns with our strategic direction. Like Eastman, Normandy has a clear vision and goals to achieve a circular economy,” said Mark Costa, CEO of Eastman at the official announcement in March 2022.

Building and operating the recycling facility should create approximately 330 direct jobs and 1500 indirect jobs, 500 during the construction phase which should end in 2025. Most of the jobs will be in and around Caux Seine Agglo in the transport, infrastructure and energy sectors. Aside from the three recycling facilities in Port-Jérôme, the site will also have an energy facility to supply them with energy, a wastewater treatment plant, a research centre and training centre.

molecular plastic recycling
carte du site eastman
Caux Seine Développement

Good to know

This major project was the subject of a public consultation in November 2022. It was an opportunity for you to gain information and be part of the discussion.

 

The plastic recycling facility will stand on a 30-40ha plot in the Port-Jérôme II business park near the Syndicat d’Élimination et de Valorisation Énergétique des déchets de l’Estuaire (Sevede) factory. The project began pre-job planning in June 2023 and published the first 3D plans of the factory.

The nearby Normand’HY project on the Port-Jérôme site will provide up to 28,000 tons of green hydrogen to fulfil the hydrogen needs of the chemical and petrol industry: another building block for the decarbonisation strategy that the region is committed to.

Another ongoing project is ExxonMobil with British company Plastic Energy: a thermal waste treatment plant that can recycle 33,000 tons of plastic waste every year in Port-Jérôme.

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