A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place for Carbios’ industrial-scale PET bio-recycling plant in Longlaville, with its construction process said to be on schedule to deliver ‘significant quantities’ to customers in 2026.

Using enzymatic bio-recycling technology, Carbios seeks to offer an alternative raw material to fossil-based monomers in PET production processes. This is expected to help PET producers, waste management companies, public bodies, and brands meet their own sustainability targets, as well as regulatory requirements.

The technology seeks to create new recycling streams for multilayered, coloured, and opaque trays made from rarely-recycled or previously non-recyclable packaging and polyester textile waste, giving these material new value.

Apparently, the plant will have the capacity to process 50,000 tons of prepared PET every year – said to be the equivalent of 2 billion coloured bottles, 2.5 billion food trays, or 300 million T-shirts. 150 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created in the region when the plant opens.

Positioned near the borders of Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg, the plant anticipates close access to a range of waste supplies.

In addition, Carbios hopes to help France re-industrialize and position the country as a ‘pioneer in green innovation’. The French State and Grand-Est Region will grant Carbios a total of €54 million in funding as part of the France 2030 programme.

Over 200 guests were present at the groundbreaking ceremony, including representatives of institutions, partner brands, and industrial partners.

“At a time when governments are negotiating an international treaty against plastic pollution in Ottowa, the groundbreaking of CARBIOS’ bio-recycling plant is particularly significant,” said Christophe Béchu, France’s Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion. “It illustrates France’s commitment to the ecological transition, and demonstrates our ability to turn challenges into opportunities for a more sustainable future.

“This plant, a world first, embodies French innovation in responding to complex environmental challenges, offering a sustainable solution for a future where plastic and textile waste will be transformed into valuable resources for a truly circular economy.”

Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate in charge of Industry, continued: “This inauguration is emblematic of the green industrial revolution that we have been implementing for the past year: French technology that is sustainable, innovative and creates jobs. It is also emblematic of the method I am applying with all industrial sectors: the ecology of the contract.

“With the financial and administrative support of the French government, the new CARBIOS plant in Longlaville will remove a major technological barrier to the development of the textile recycling industry in France.”

“I’m proud to support the deployment of the world’s first plant dedicated to the bio-recycling of PET,” stated Région Grand-Est president Franck Leroy. “CARBIOS is a perfect illustration of our vision of modern, responsible re-industrialization, placing the Grand Est region at the heart of the ecological transition.

“This key innovation in the fight against plastic pollution will also create 150 jobs in the Longlaville area.”

“At CARBIOS, we have turned a vision into reality with the groundbreaking of the world’s first PET bio-recycling plant,” said CEO Emmanuel Ladent. “Our revolutionary enzymatic depolymerization technology marks the beginning of a new era in plastic recycling, moving away from dependence on oil to a circular economy fuelled by PET waste itself.

“CARBIOS continues its mission by collaborating with strategic partners around the world and embarking on a promising commercial and international deployment. I would like to thank our partner brands and industrial partners present, particularly L’Oréal Groupe, L’Occitane en Provence, PUMA, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, Salomon, On, CITEO and Novonesis for their contribution to the success of this historic event.”

According to Philippe Pouletty, founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of CARBIOS: “We can help save the planet thanks to science, passionate teams, private and public funding to meet industrial and commercial stakes, and loyal partners. This groundbreaking ceremony for the Longlaville plant marks the start of our industrial and commercial roll-out to make CARBIOS a world leader in plastic recycling in the coming years.”

Antoine Vanlaeys, chief operating officer at L’Oréal Groupe, said: “We are delighted to be a long-standing partner of CARBIOS: an adventure that began nearly seven years ago with the co-founding of a consortium to industrialize the bio-recycling of plastic, then in 2019 with our participation in the capital increase carried out by CARBIOS through our private equity fund BOLD, Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development.

“The groundbreaking ceremony for CARBIOS’ PET bio-recycling plant is another key milestone. It confirms the scaling up of this pioneering technology, which contributes to the sustainable management of the plastic life cycle.

“We believe in the power of collaboration to build solutions for the future with our partners and get closer every day to reaching our sustainable development objectives. The partnership between L’Oréal Groupe and CARBIOS is testament to this.”

A LinkedIn post published by Emmanuel Macron, president of France, on 24th April 2024 stated: “A technological revolution is taking shape tomorrow with the groundbreaking ceremony of CARBIOS’ plant in Longlaville: the world’s first bio-recycling plant. French pride! Ecological transition and growth, made in France and innovation go hand in hand.”

An initial industrial demonstration plant was launched for Carbios’ enzymatic recycling technology back in 2021. Initial tests were carried out to evaluate the scalability of the process.

Subsequently, plans were announced to build a manufacturing plant utilizing Carbios’ PET bio-recycling technology at Indorama Ventures’ PET production site. It sought to become the world’s first industrial-scale enzymatic PET bio-recycling facility.

In October 2023, the required building and operating permits were obtained. At 13.7 hectares in size, the site is thought to offer up expansion potential in the future.

More recently, Carbios formed an engineering partnership with De Smet Engineers & Contractors to handle construction, project management, and detailed engineering.

non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Landbell Group covering the sourcing, preparation, and recycling of post-consumer PET waste is among one of Carbios’ several feedstock supply agreements.

If you liked this story, you might also enjoy:

The Brief: How viable is biorecycling for plastics?

Report: How the top brands are progressing on packaging sustainability

The Brief: Using ocean-bound plastic in packaging – how, why and should we?

Sustainable Packaging Summit: Is the world on track to tackle plastic pollution? Reflecting on five years of the Global Commitment