Technology

Investing in the Circular Economy for Plastic

New Facility Brings World-Scale Advanced Recycling to Tennessee

FEBRUARY 18, 2021 - From kitchen containers to appliances to medical devices, modern technologies and a desire to create a more sustainable world have led all kinds of companies to incorporate recycled plastic into their products. Soon, that reusable water bottle for the hiking trail or pulse oximeter your doctor uses may be made of plastic recycled in the Volunteer State, at one of the world’s largest advanced recycling facilities.


Eastman Chemical recently announced plans to build a new $250 million advanced recycling facility in Kingsport, Tennessee, to turn used polyester made from plastic fibers into new high-quality plastic. The advanced recycling facility aims to be mechanically complete by the end of 2022 and be able to use more than 100,000 metric tons (220 million pounds) of plastic waste each year that cannot currently be recycled using traditional (mechanical) recycling methods. That equates to keeping approximately the weight equivalent of nearly 6,500 loaded school buses worth of plastic out of the environment.

Announcements like Eastman’s are major milestones to realizing and scaling the circular economy for plastic. In a circular economy, products are designed so that their entire lifecycle leads back to becoming raw material for new products, reducing waste and pollution.

In just the past three years, 66 projects worth $5.5 billion in modern recycling technologies have been announced in the United States alone. These projects have the potential to divert more than 4 million metric tons (more than 9 billion pounds) of waste, most of which is plastics, leading to the expansion of the types and volumes of plastics that can be recovered and reused in manufacturing as part of the circular economy.

New facilities and technologies like this are a crucial piece to help solve the climate change puzzle and move the needle closer to cleaner air and waterways, less pollution and waste, and a healthier planet.

Real-world projects like Eastman’s demonstrate the kinds of changes needed to reduce plastic waste and meet the goals of Making Sustainable Change. In particular, America’s Plastic MakersSM have set a goal to reuse, recycle or recover all plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040, and we’re already seeing innovative action take hold.

Click here for more information about advanced recycling. Continue to visit America’s Plastic Makers: Making Sustainable ChangeSM to learn more about the steps we are taking to help end plastic waste, build a circular economy for plastics and create a more sustainable future.

Progress in action

Explore news about trends, innovations, plastic solutions, and ​Making Sustainable Change partners.