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LONGLAVILLE – Carbios, a global leader in the development and industrialisation of biological technologies to recycle synthetic textiles and other plastic waste, this week held a ceremony for what it is being dubbed as the world’s first PET “bio-recycling plant.”

Located in Longlaville, in the Grand-Est region of France, Carbios’ first commercial plant will provide an industrial-scale solution for the enzymatic depolymerization of PET waste. The plant will have a processing capacity of 50kt/year when operating at full capacity. Work is said to be progressing on schedule with customer deliveries set to commence in 2026.

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PET, the second most widely used plastic in the world, is mainly manufactured from oil. Using CARBIOS’ enzymatic biorecycling technology, the new business will produce PET from plastic waste, including packaging waste as well as polyester textile waste.

Apparel Insider understands that the demonstration plant is going to be the tool for pitching the project to manufacturers who may be interested in paying Carbios for the license to their system. The possibility of licensing out the technology will likely depend on the success of the plant, which is essentially a demonstration of what is possible but at a larger scale.

We understand the plant already has agreements in place to process enough feedstock to account for 70 per cent of its total annual capacity. Whether this be enough to attract further financing – which will likely be required in future – is an unknown.

In a LinkedIn post published on 24 April 2024, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said: “A technological revolution is taking shape tomorrow with the groundbreaking ceremony of Carbios’ plant in Longlaville: the world’s first biorecycling plant.Ecological transition and growth, made in France and innovation go hand in hand.”

Christophe Béchu, Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion said at the ceremony: “At a time when governments are negotiating an international treaty against plastic pollution in Ottowa, the groundbreaking of Carbios’ biorecycling plant is particularly significant. 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, added: “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.”

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