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Comment Sustainability

BASF and Mitsui collaborate to commercialize chemical recycling in Japan

By Mary Page Bailey |

BASF Japan and Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) have started a collaborative study to promote chemical recycling in Japan. Through cooperation across the value chain, BASF and Mitsui Chemicals will evaluate collaborative business models and various options to commercialize chemical recycling in Japan to address the local challenge of plastic waste recycling.

In its ChemCycling project, BASF works together with technology partners who use innovative processes, which convert post-consumer plastic waste into pyrolysis oil, that can serve as a feedstock to produce chemicals. In the next step, these chemicals are used to produce new materials such as plastics without compromising on quality in even the most sensitive applications. The share of recycled material is allocated to these products according to a third-party audited mass balance approach. Chemical recycling is a complementary solution to mechanical recycling as it focuses on plastic waste that cannot be recycled mechanically for technological, economic, or ecological reasons. In Europe, commercial products manufactured with this approach are already available in the market. From 2025, BASF Group aims to process 250,000 metric tons of recycled feedstock annually, replacing fossil raw materials.

“BASF is currently promoting ChemCycling mainly at its European Verbund sites, where the company can benefit from integrated production networks. BASF has accumulated technologies and know-how of chemical recycling. We are delighted to partner with Mitsui Chemicals to jointly study and promote a circular economy for plastics in Japan,” said Hiroki Ishida, Representative Director and President of BASF Japan.

Mitsui Chemicals contributes to society by aiming at becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. The company considers climate change and plastic waste as key global challenges. To tackle these challenges, Mitsui Chemicals aims to develop recycling technologies and to expand its biomass product lineup. “Combining BASF’s expertise in chemical recycling with our assets in Japan, such as our technologies and ethylene crackers, will be a major step to contribute towards building a circular economy in Japan. Plastic is a major social issue in the country, and there is a need for social reform throughout the entire value chain,” said Akio Hirahara, Managing Executive Officer of Mitsui Chemicals.

In recent years, efforts toward carbon neutrality and recycling of plastic resources have been accelerating worldwide. In Japan, too, plastic recycling is becoming increasingly important. The Japanese government formulated various measures, including its “Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality,” in December 2020 to achieve sustainability goals by 2050. In particular, chemical recycling is attracting attention.

As part of their cooperation, BASF and Mitsui Chemicals also want to accelerate discussions with related ministries, agencies, and industry groups for implementation of chemical recycling in Japan, and promote the effective and efficient use of recycled materials in the country.

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