ICIS launches pyrolysis oil pricing indexes for chemical recycling

ICIS launches pyrolysis oil pricing indexes for chemical recycling

To help satisfy the increasing consumer demand for the pricing of chemical recycling outputs, commodity intelligence firm ICIS has launched its pyrolysis oil pricing indexes. ICIS adds that it is the first market player to provide this pricing index, which will be part of its mixed plastic waste – Europe pricing report launched in 2021, now known as ICIS mixed plastic waste and pyrolysis oil report.

The mixed plastic waste pricing service currently includes the key feedstocks for pyrolysis oil – mixed polyolefin bales and high plastic content refuse derived fuel bales. The introduction of a pricing index for pyrolysis oil itself will give visibility across this key chemical recycling chain.

This sits alongside ICIS’s coverage of mechanical recycling markets, allowing players to directly compare chemical and mechanical recycling prices and dynamics for the first time.

Pyrolysis oil is used as a drop-in alternative to replace fossil-based naphtha, a flammable liquid hydrocarbon used in the steam cracking process to create plastics, making plastic production more circular.

Consumer and investor pressures along with increasing regulation are driving the chemical industry’s transition to a circular economy. This in turn is driving the development of chemical recycling and in particular the pyrolysis oil market is starting to scale as the largest current output of chemical recycling.

As of September 2023, pyrolysis-based plants targeting mixed plastic waste (with a focus on polyolefins) as feedstock account for ~60% of all operating chemical recycling capacity in Europe according to ICIS Recycling Supply Tracker – Chemical.

The total capacity for such projects in Europe is expected to become almost 7 times larger by 2028 growing to ~600,000 tonnes/year, based on the projects considered as the final investment decision (FID). Moreover, if the pre-FID project pipeline is unlocked, then the total pyrolysis capacity targeting mixed plastic waste can reach as much as ~1.7 million tonnes/year by 2028.

Mark Victory, Senior Editor, Recycling at ICIS says: “The pressure to transition to a circular economy will continue to intensify and we can see how that has impacted the chemical recycling market and in particular the pyrolysis oil market. Despite the negative macroeconomic conditions currently impacting across petrochemical and recycling markets, investment in chemical recycling has continued at pace.”

Pyrolysis oil prices do not track their virgin equivalents, meaning that this key emerging market has lacked reliable, independent price indicators to benchmark against. ICIS’s index will enable buyers and sellers to assess the overall opportunities in chemical recycling market with transparency and clarity.

“The addition of the new price series gives comprehensive coverage across the chain and compliments ICIS’ existing chemical and mechanical recycling supply trackers, alongside mechanical recycling price benchmarks, analytics and consultancy services. This gives customers a full suite of tools to compare and track the development of the various routes to circularity,” concluded Victory at ICIS.

For the polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) sectors, chemical recycling is seen by many as the most viable route to achieving mass-scale recycled food-contact packaging within Europe.

ICIS adds that its introduction of pyrolysis oil pricing will bring clarity enabling customers to trade more effectively in a sector anticipated to experience remarkable growth in the years ahead.