Covestro launches mechanical recycling polycarbonate compounding line in China

23 October 2023

Covestro has commenced operations at its first dedicated mechanical recycling (MCR) compounding line for polycarbonates at its integrated site in Shanghai, China. This line is set to produce more than 25,000t of premium-quality polycarbonates and blends containing mechanically recycled materials annually, in response to the growing demand for post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastics, particularly in applications within the electrical and electronic products, automotive, and consumer goods sectors.

“The launch of our MCR production line marks another significant stride in our journey towards achieving a circular economy and operational climate neutrality by 2035,” said Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer of Covestro. “Plastic waste recycling is pivotal in realising this vision and through the expansion of our recycled plastics production capacity, we aim to lead the way in driving sustainability across diverse industries.”

Covestro is committed to supplying more than 60,000t of recycled-content polycarbonates annually in the Asia Pacific region by 2026, in response to robust market demand. Recently, the company also transformed an existing compounding line at its Map Ta Phut site in Thailand for mechanically recycled polycarbonate.

“These investments enable us to meet the rising demand for PCR polycarbonates, enhancing our capacity and efficiency. With new or repurposed capacity now operational, we are better positioned to assist our downstream customers in their journey towards more sustainable products, expediting the transformation of industries towards a circular and climate-neutral future,” said Lily Wang, Head of Covestro’s Business Entity Engineering Plastics.

View of the new production facility for compounding mechanically recycled polycarbonate in
Shanghai. © Covestro

A broad range of PCR portfolio

The demand for such materials is surging on a global scale, driven by regulatory initiatives like the European Union’s proposed Directive on end-of-life vehicles (ELV Directive), which sets strict benchmarks for the utilisation of recycled plastics. Furthermore, industries like consumer electronics are poised for increased demand for recycled materials, especially those with a substantial recycled content.

These market dynamics underscore the significance of Covestro’s recent developments in providing PCR polycarbonates. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a polycarbonate boasting 90% recycled content. This grade not only attains outstanding whiteness and highly saturated colours but also touts a sustainable feature – a 70% reduction in carbon footprint compared to its fossil-based virgin plastic counterpart. Achieving this remarkable accomplishment requires a meticulous selection of high-quality recycled materials and precise optimisation of material composition during the compounding process.

Furthermore, Covestro is actively engaged in pioneering the chemical recycling of polycarbonates. Having successfully developed an innovative process within the laboratory, the company is now embarking on the technical implementation of this breakthrough at a pilot scale.


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Expansion of polycarbonate production capacity in Asia Pacific

After debottlenecking multiple production lines at the Map Ta Phut site in Thailand, Covestro is nearing the final stages of a programme to enhance polycarbonate production capacity and capabilities across the Asia Pacific region. This programme also includes the addition of new production lines at sites in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China, as well as Greater Noida, India, in recent times. The combined additional capacity now exceeds 100,000t/yr. These strategic projects, aimed at optimising the regional production network, have been supported by using digital tools, which also reduced investment costs.

“In this way, we aim not only to meet the growing demand for polycarbonate in Asia, but also to offer our customers there an improved product quality,” says Dr. Nicolas Stoeckel, Head of Operations in the Business Entity Engineering Plastics. “Depending on demand, the upgrades can be used for compounding recycled or conventionally produced polycarbonate.” Therefore, both projects are also about improving Covestro´s ability to produce more plastics with higher recycled content.

Main image caption: At a customer event, Sucheta Govil, Covestro’s Chief Commerical Officer (3rd from left), Lily Wang,
head of the Engineering Plastics business unit (4th from left), and Dr. Nicolas Stoeckel, head of
operations at Engineering Plastics (far right), celebrate the startup of the new MCR plant. © Covestro

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