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Neste examines chemical recycling of waste plastic at Porvoo refinery

Proceeding on its target of commercializing chemical recycling of waste plastic, Finland-headed oil refiner and renewable products producer Neste Oyj is conducting a feasibility study to examine investing in the capacity for processing liquefied waste plastic at its refinery in Porvoo.

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Neste is currently the largest renewable fuel producer in Finland.
Neste is conducting a feasibility study to examine investing in the capacity for processing liquefied waste plastic at its refinery in Porvoo, Finland. Neste is currently the largest renewable fuel producer in Finland.

The goal is to scale up processing capabilities for liquefied waste plastic by implementing proprietary technologies to pretreat and upgrade liquefied waste plastic and integrate the technologies into the refinery operations.

The targeted pretreatment and upgrading capacity of this first step is 400 000 tonnes per year. This development would be a major step towards Neste’s target to process over 1 million tonnes of waste plastic per year from 2030 onwards.

To turn chemical recycling into a viable and industrial-scale feed source for our downstream partners in the polymers and chemicals value chain, we have to bridge the quality gap between unprocessed liquefied waste plastic oil and our customers’ raw material requirements, explained Mercedes Alonso, EVP, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals at Neste.

To produce drop-in petrochemical feeds from liquefied waste plastic (e.g. pyrolysis oil), intermediate refining is needed to remove detrimental impurities as well as optimize the chemical composition of the material.

We are a forerunner in refining liquefied waste plastic into drop-in petrochemical feeds. By scaling up our processing capabilities, we enhance our ability to process hard-to-recycle waste plastics and help enable our value chain partners to deliver substantial volumes of high-quality materials from recycled feedstock, Mercedes Alonso said.

Increased flexibility when processing waste plastics

In 2021, Neste successfully concluded the first series of trial runs processing liquefied waste plastic in its Porvoo refinery. Additional trial runs with larger volumes will continue in the course of 2022.

While unprocessed liquefied waste plastic is used for trial-scale runs, continuous processing at an industrial scale will require the pretreatment and upgrading steps to remove impurities and unwanted components.

We are excited to continue to develop liquid waste plastic processing capabilities at our Porvoo refinery. The goal is to turn waste plastics into valuable resources and a sustainable replacement for crude oil. The planned new pretreatment and upgrading capabilities are part of our target to be the most sustainable refinery in Europe by 2030 while supporting the transition to circular polymers, said Markku Korvenranta, EVP, Oil Products at Neste.

To develop and build up the capabilities at its Porvoo refinery, Neste will evaluate possible options for innovation funding and works together closely with local authorities supervising environmental aspects of the investment.

Following the feasibility study, investment decision readiness is targeted for 2023 and the gradual implementation is expected to start in 2024.

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