Chemical plants expand in Baytown to meet growing demand for plastics

Petrochemical giants are expanding their Baytown factories and production capacity to meet growing demand for plastics.

Chevron Phillips Chemical became the latest to expand its footprint on Wednesday, announcing plans to build a propylene unit at its Baytown plant. The Woodlands-based company said on Wednesday it has made the final decision to invest in a new C3 separation unit at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, which is expected to produce 1 billion pounds of propylene per year.

The C3 separator will convert a mixture of refinery grade propylene and propane into high purity propylene, which is a key ingredient for many household and industrial products such as plastic packaging and automotive parts. Construction of the new unit is expected to begin in January and be completed in 2023. The project is expected to support more than 350 construction jobs.

“With increasing global demand for propylene, this project reinforces Chevron Phillips Chemical’s commitment to grow to meet the needs of our customers and remain a leading supplier of propylene,” said Justine Smith, vice -Senior President of Petrochemicals at Chevron Phillips.

Companies are investing in expansion projects to meet growing demand for petrochemicals used in a variety of household and industrial products, from plastics to shampoos. Demand for plastics, in particular, is expected to reach more than 350 million metric tonnes by 2050, up from 200 million metric tonnes today, according to Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm.

Exxon Mobil began the previously announced expansion of its petrochemical complex in Baytown last month.

The $ 2 billion expansion will increase Exxon’s production of linear alpha-olefins by 350,000 tonnes per year and its polymer production by 400,000 metric tonnes per year. Olefins and polymers are used in plastics, detergents and adhesives. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2023.

The petrochemical industry, however, faces growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from plastics, especially from single-use products such as plastic wrappers and straws littering them. landfills and oceans.

“Plastic has completely changed the game over the past 50 years. It has become an essential part of everyday life, ”said Andrew Brown, Wood Mackenzie’s polymer demand manager. “However, the balance has shifted too far towards low-cost disposable plastics, which cause damage to the environment at every stage of their lifecycle, and it takes more than a simple approach to solve this problem. . “

Exxon in October announced plans to build its first large-scale plastic waste recycling facility in Baytown, which is expected to start operating by the end of 2022.

The recycling plant, which will be one of the largest in North America, will have the capacity to recycle 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, turning it into chemicals raw materials that can be reused to make plastic and other products.

Exxon plans to expand its plastic recycling capacity globally to approximately 500,000 metric tonnes over the next five years and is evaluating sites in the Netherlands, the US Gulf Coast, Canada and Singapore.

Cyclyx International, a New Hampshire-based plastic raw materials management company, on Wednesday announced plans to build the nation’s first large-scale plant to recycle plastics that currently cannot be recycled. The facility, which will be located near Exxon’s recycling plant in Baytown, to treat over 60,000 tonnes of plastic waste. Its opening is scheduled for the end of 2022.

“The development of these custom plastics recovery facilities is critical to meeting the growing needs of advanced recyclers,” said Joe Vaillancourt, CEO of Cyclyx, “and is a big step forward in our mission to help increase the rate. plastic recycling from 10% to 90 percent.

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