An environmental breakthrough at Shell’s Norco plant

At its chemical plant in Norco, Shell made a technological and environmental breakthrough: It turned hard-to-recycle plastics into high-end chemicals.

As part of its ambition to use 1 million tons of plastic waste annually in its global chemicals plants by 2025, the company used liquid feedstock made from plastic waste to create new products using a technique known as pyrolysis.

“This makes sense for the environment and our business,” says Thomas Casparie, executive vice president of Shell’s global chemicals business.  “We want to take waste plastics that are tough to recycle by traditional methods and turn them back into chemicals—creating a circle. These chemicals will meet our customers’ growing demands for high quality and sustainable products.”

Atlanta-based Nexus Fuels LLC recently supplied its first cargo of pyrolysis liquid to Shell’s chemical plant in Norco, where it was made into chemicals that are the raw materials for everyday items. Shell is working with multiple companies who collect and transform plastic waste to scale the solution to industrial and profitable quantities across its chemicals plants in Asia, Europe and North America.

Shell is a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The nonprofit organization is bringing together entities from across the plastics value chain—chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters and waste management companies—and partnering with the financial community and government agencies. The AEPW has committed $1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment.

Shell is also working with its retail, business fuels and lubricants customers to help reduce, reuse and recycle plastic packaging.