OMV innovation project produces synthetic crude from Austrian Airlines plastic cups


• Since January 2019 OMV has been processing Austrian Airlines plastic cups in the OMV ReOil® pilot plant
• OMV produces new fuels and plastics from used plastic cups
• The idea of recycling the cups is an initiative of the Austrian Airlines “Fly greener” team

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The OMV ReOil® pilot plant has been processing drinking cups used by Austrian Airlines passengers since January 2019. Under this initiative the disposable cups are used to produce synthetic crude.

Since the end of 2018, Austrian Airlines flight attendants have been separating the plastic cups used by passengers from the rest of the waste. A disposal company then cleans and shreds them before delivering them to the ReOil® pilot plant at the Schwechat Refinery. A process known as thermal cracking is used to produce synthetic crude from plastic waste. This crude is then processed in the Schwechat Refinery into fuel or other raw materials for the plastics industry. With this recycling initiative, Austrian Airlines is supporting a circular economy that conserves resources. In addition, Flughafen Wien AG is a key logistics partner in this process.

“Austrian Airlines is consistently striving to reduce waste on board our flights. Our flight attendants have been making a key contribution for many years by recycling. I am delighted that – together with OMV – we have been able to take another crucial step towards this goal on the initiative of the crew members from the Austrian Airlines “Fly greener” team”, said Vera Renner, Vice President Cabin Operations of Austrian Airlines, commenting on the cooperation with the home carrier as part of OMV’s ReOil® pilot project.

Thomas Gangl, OMV Senior Vice President Refining & Petrochemicals: “The exceptional properties of plastic as a material mean make it hard to imagine life without it. In the ReOil® plant, we are able to turn the AUA drinking cups into synthetic crude and then process them into fuel or back into plastics. Our OMV research project allows us to close the circle and reduce waste. These joint efforts send a clear signal of how important conserving resources is to both of our companies”.

OMV has been exploring the potential of used plastics since 2011. After a test unit in the technology center of the Schwechat Refinery yielded successful research results, the significantly larger ReOil® pilot plant started operations in early 2018 in the Schwechat Refinery. 100 kilograms of used plastics can produce 100 liters of synthetic crude.

The cooperation with OMV on the ReOil® project can be traced back to the initiative of the Austrian Airlines team from “Fly greener”. “Fly greener” is a project spanning the entire Lufthansa Group. Its goal is to reduce waste volumes and mitigate the environmental impact while optimizing the requisite processes on aircraft. Every Lufthansa Group airline is developing its own ideas and concepts to this end. Several years have already passed since Austrian Airlines started to sort various materials on board and send them for recycling. This involves PET bottles, glass bottles, tetra packs, cans, paper and newspapers. Various projects are currently underway to make air travel more efficient and more environmentally friendly across the group.

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