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Exxon Mobil OKs second advanced recycling facility at Baytown complex

May 7, 2024

Spring-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is developing a second advanced recycling facility in Baytown as it plans to have processing capacity for more than 1 billion pounds of plastic waste globally by 2027.

Exxon announced on May 6 that the second facility reached a final investment decision, with startup planned for 2025.

The company’s first facility in Baytown started operations in December 2022 and has since processed more than 22,000 metric tons of discarded plastic.

"The interest from our customers for certified-circular plastics is far outpacing our ability to supply them, so we’ve almost doubled the amount of plastic we can process through reliability improvements,” said Ray Mastroleo, Exxon’s market development manager for advanced recycling.

Exxon’s first unit was initially planned to have the capacity to process 30,000 tons of plastic per year, with a later announced capacity of 36,000 tonnes per year, making it one of the largest such recycling facilities in North America, the company said. It was the first of its kind for Exxon.

It was an expansion of a smaller pilot project in Baytown, where Exxon began testing proprietary advanced recycling technology in 2021.

Dave Andrew, vice president of new market development at Exxon, previously told the Houston Business Journal that Exxon's Baytown plant will serve as a model for the company's future advanced recycling operations around the world.

Exxon is eyeing opportunities to develop more plastic recycling facilities on the Gulf Coast at its petrochemical complex in Beaumont, Texas, and its facilities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The company is also considering plants at its operations in Joliet, Illinois, as well as sites in Canada, Europe and Asia.

Exxon is also investing to try to smooth out other speed bumps in the plastic recycling process. Exxon formed a joint venture — called Cyclyx International LLC — with New Hampshire-based plastic recycling company Agilyx Corp. to focus on aggregating and pre-processing large volumes of plastic waste. In 2022, Cyclyx and the Houston Recycling Collaboration launched a program expanding the plastic materials accepted for recycling at the Kingwood Recycling Center to nearly all plastics.

Exxon, Cyclyx and LyondellBasell Industries NV (NYSE: LYB) also plan to invest about $100 million to develop a new plant in the Houston area focused on sorting and processing plastic waste. The plastic feedstock processed at the Cyclyx Circularity Center will supply Exxon's advanced recycling plant in Baytown, LyondellBasell's own advanced recycling projects and other mechanical recycling operations.

Exxon also has made some other major expansions in Baytown in recent years. The company recently started operations of its $2 billion chemical facility expansion and also is planning a massive hydrogen and carbon capture project at its Baytown operations.

Starting up the Baytown Chemical Expansion Project in September came six months after Exxon started up its $2 billion refinery expansion in Beaumont. That project, which added a third crude distillation unit and increased the refinery's capacity by 250,000 barrels per day, was the largest refinery expansion in the U.S. since 2012, according to Exxon.

When it officially moved its headquarters from Irving, Texas, to Spring in July 2023, Exxon became the Houston area’s largest publicly traded company.

By Naomi Klinge, Houston Business Journal