Eastman CEO touts P&G partnership as company tries to change the 'whole game' around recycling

  • Eastman CEO Mark Costa told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Tuesday the plastics company is trying to change "the whole game" around recycling.
  • The company's partnership with Procter & Gamble is the latest step in that effort, Costa said on "Mad Money."
  • Costa said the initiative targets the 70% of plastics that ends up in landfill at present.

Eastman CEO Mark Costa told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Tuesday the plastics company is trying to change "the whole game" around recycling, touting the company's partnership with Procter & Gamble as the latest step in that effort.

Eastman and P&G, which makes Tide laundry detergent and Dawn dish detergent, announced their tie-up last week, in which P&G will make some of its products and packaging using Eastman Renew materials.

In an interview on "Mad Money," Costa said Eastman now has more than 20 brands engaged in its using "environmental technology" to improve way plastics are recycled.

"We're providing a way to take waste plastic out of the environment. Today, if you think about waste plastic, it's mechanically recycled and that's the traditional way to do it. They get clear bottles. They chop it up. They melt it, and they turn it back into other bottles or more often textiles," Costa said.

"What we're doing … is molecular recycling," Costa said, describing the process as a "more fundamental" one that can create an "infinite life" for the plastic.

"We take waste plastic — the 70% that can't be mechanically recycled, that ends up in landfill — and we basically, especially with polyester which is our leading technology, we unzip that polymer with a little bit of chemistry, purify it, and then rebuild the polymer back, and it's identical to the current polymer."

This process allows the quality of the now-recycled plastic to remain in tact, which is "incredibly important" for a company like P&G, said Costa, who has been CEO of Tennessee-based Eastman since 2014.

The problems associated with plastic waste and the economics of recycling have both been under the microscope in recent years as concerns around climate change and environmental degradation increase. However, Costa said he thinks further deployment of Eastman Renew materials is part of the solution.

"There's so much waste plastic out there, and today it ends up in landfill and so we can put value on that and encourage people to invest and develop it because today it's just waste. We're changing the whole game around recycling, not just the mechanical recycling that gets good value right now but all this 70% that ends up being thrown away. We're turning that back into a circular economy."

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