BP and SABIC have signed a new agreement with the aim of driving the circular economy at the Gelsenkirchen chemical complex in Germany.

Building on an established relationship between the two companies at the production site, the new collaboration will seek to increase the production of products that utilise used mixed plastics to make feedstock, thereby reducing the amount of fossil resources needed in the petrochemical plants at the site.

These polymers are part of SABIC’S TRUCIRCLE portfolio and are produced using advanced recycling to convert low-quality mixed and used plastic, otherwise destined for incineration or landfill, into pyrolysis oil.

The oil, which acts as an alternative feedstock to traditional fossil materials, will be processed at BP’s Gelsenkirchen refining site and then used by SABIC in its Gelsenkirchen polymer plants to produce new products.

According to SABIC, the final material has identical properties to virgin-based polymers and allows plastics to be recycled repeatedly, with no loss of properties or characteristics. After successful trials in December 2020, polymer production using the alternative feedstock started at the site early this year.

“SABIC is committed to helping to create a new circular economy where plastic never becomes waste. Advanced recycling allows us to increase the production of more sustainable materials and use our planet’s resources wisely, whilst reducing the use of conventional approaches such as landfill and combustion,” said Fahad Al Swailem, vice president of PE & Sales at SABIC.

“This is an important milestone in our vision of sourcing up to 30% of our ethylene and propylene production from sustainable, recyclable raw materials by 2030,” says Wolfgang Stückle, vice president of refining and specialities solutions for Europe and Africa at BP.

“It is a fantastic achievement on the part of the Gelsenkirchen team, after more than a year’s preparation, to set up the new initiative with our partners at SABIC. At the same time, it is what BP’s recently announced Net Zero strategy is all about.”

The base chemicals from BP and the polymers from SABIC are recognised through the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification plus (ISCC+) scheme that certifies content and standards across the value chain from source to end product.

The ISCC+ certification works on a mass balance system, meaning that for each tonne of circular feedstock fed into the cracker and substituting fossil-based feedstock, a tonne of the output can be classified as circular.