There is a growing consensus on the need for a circular economy to preserve the environment, along with legal incentives, such as the Circular Economy Package of the European Commission, which aims to increase plastics recycling rates and minimize plastic leakage into the environment. OMV recognizes the environmental footprint of petrochemicals and assumes its responsibility for petrochemicals value chain impacts throughout their lifespan. Despite the current drawbacks of the plastics economy, plastics are part of the solution to a number of challenges facing our society. For example, light and innovative materials in cars and planes reduce fuel consumption and cut CO2 emissions. Biocompatible plastic materials enable medical innovation and save human lives. It is OMV’s ambition to strengthen its European downstream position through a shift to higher-value-added products, such as petrochemical products. This move, in combination with recycling of post-consumer plastics, is an important way to make better use of valuable natural resources.
OMV provides petrochemical feedstock to chemical companies and uses plastic waste as feedstock for the ReOil® plant.
OMV also directly interacts with Borealis and other companies through the platform EverMinds® for circular-economy-related activities.1www.borealiseverminds.com In October 2017, Borealis launched a joint initiative called STOP to eliminate leakage of plastics into the ocean, increase plastics recycling, and support the wider systemic changes required for a circular plastics economy. The first project started in Indonesia and is intended to improve the ways plastics are handled in one of the country’s most polluted areas.
OMV also implements initiatives directed toward the engagement of local stakeholders in the topic of the circular economy. The Company is also involved in two community investment projects focused on the circular plastics economy, which started in Romania in 2019: “Recycling Laboratory” and #noplasticwaste (for further details, see Community Relations and Development).
ReOil® – circular economy project
OMV has been exploring the potential for utilizing post-consumer plastics – polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene – since 2011. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency has also contributed with subsidies covering part of the project investment. The first test facility was launched in 2013. In 2018, the next-level test facility – the ReOil® pilot plant – began fully refinery-integrated operation with a processing capacity of up to 100 kg per hour and production capacity of up to 100 liters of synthetic crude per hour.
The crude is then further processed at the Schwechat refinery into fuel products or base materials for the plastics industry. This process creates a closed loop (“the circular economy”), where post-consumer plastics are used to create value-added products, thereby reducing dependence on natural resources and lowering carbon intensity as compared to standard oil processing. This innovative chemical recycling technology closes the loop of post-consumer plastics recycling. Substituting crude oil with post-consumer plastics is estimated to lead to 45% lower CO2 emissions in the use of this product and 20% lower energy demand per t of the product.2Austrian Federal Environmental Agency, ReOil – Bewertung eines Konzeptes zur kaskadischen Nutzung von Altkunststoffen im Raffineriekontext, 2016
OMV holds the patent for this chemical recycling process in Europe, the US, Russia, Australia, Japan, India, China, and other countries.
In 2019, OMV worked on developing the necessary technical parameters for a further scale-up and initiated the engineering process to develop a ReOil® demo plant with a post-consumer plastic feedstock capacity of 16,000 to 20,000 t per year.
OMV aims to develop ReOil® into a commercially viable, industrial-scale recycling technology with a processing capacity of approximately 200,000 t of used plastics per year by 2025.
OMV has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ADNOC for the establishment of a joint working group to assess the feasibility of a scalable ReOil® plant in the United Arab Emirates.
Sustainability Strategy 2025 target
Develop ReOil® into a commercially viable, industrial-scale process (unit size of ~200,000 t per year)
- 100 t of post-consumer plastics transformed into synthetic crude
- 40 days of continued production at the ReOil® plant
Action plan to achieve the target
- Continually improve operability and reliability based on a defined test run program, and utilize results achieved to improve process modeling and the design basis for the ReOil® demo plant
- 2022: demo plant with a post-consumer plastic feedstock capacity of 16,000 to 20,000 t per year
2 Austrian Federal Environmental Agency, ReOil – Bewertung eines Konzeptes zur kaskadischen Nutzung von Altkunststoffen im Raffineriekontext, 2016