Bioplastics Business Breakfast

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  • Borealis to start Bio-PP production before end 2019


    Borealis and Neste have announced they are establishing a strategic co-operation to accelerate circularity and bioeconomy in plastics. This will enable Borealis to produce renewable polypropylene using Neste’s renewable propane by end of 2019.

    nBorealis, a leading provider of innovative polyolefin solutions; and Neste, the world’s leading provider of renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, and an expert in delivering drop-in renewable chemical solutions, are entering into strategic co-operation for the production of renewable polypropylene (PP). The co-operation will enable Borealis to start using Neste’s 100% renewable propane produced with Neste’s proprietary NEXBT technology as renewable feedstock at its facilities in Kallo and Beringen, Belgium, starting end of 2019.

    As an industry frontrunner in sustainability, Neste offers bio-based alternatives to conventional fossil-based feedstock to be used in the production of polymers and chemicals. Neste has an annual production capacity of 3 million tonnes of renewable products. Thanks to its proprietary NEXBTL technology, it can utilize nearly any bio-based oil or fat as raw material, including lower-quality waste and residue oils to produce various premium-quality renewable products. Borealis will use Neste’s renewable propane, produced in Rotterdam, at its facilities in Belgium to create an entire portfolio of applications based on renewable PP. This marks the first time that Borealis uses bio-based feedstock to partially replace fossil feedstock in commercial production of PP. It will also be the first time ever that renewable propane dehydrogenation is carried out at an industrial scale. The high-quality product will offer the same excellent product properties as conventional PP and is fully recyclable.

    Borealis’ unique propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and PP plant set-up in Kallo will enable the company to start offering bio-based propylene and consequently bio-based-PP in which bio-based content can be physically verified and measured. In addition, Borealis will continue to apply mass balance approach in its production at Kallo and Beringen to take a major step forward to provide both renewable propylene and renewable polypropylene to its customers. The process will be certified by the ISCC Plus (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification), whose full value chain scope ensures that the renewable feedstock used is certified renewable, sustainably produced and traceable to point of origin.

    “Using renewable feedstocks produced primarily from waste and residue streams is a major contribution to reducing our reliance on fossil fuel based feedstocks,” explains Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology and Circular Economy Solutions. “Through co-operation with Neste we can offer our customers and partners a new portfolio of renewable PP solutions, helping them to make their offering more climate friendly. True to our EverMinds approach, we are a frontrunner in helping build a circular economy for plastics. Borealis will not only help protect the environment, but also build a business fit for the future.”

    “Polymers and chemicals industries will play a major role in the fight against climate change. It is, therefore, very satisfying to see the industry change starting to happen towards more sustainable, climate-friendlier feedstock alternatives. We are eager to help forerunner companies like Borealis to start replacing fossil-based feedstock with renewable ones. This new step is a meaningful contribution towards creating a healthier planet for our children,” says Mercedes Alonso, Executive Vice President, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals, Neste.

    “Following its earlier commitment to scale its offer of recycled plastics, it is great to see Borealis continue to gradually shift its core business away from the consumption of fossil resources by producing renewable-based plastics,” comments Sander Defruyt, Lead of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative. “This ambition is very much in line with the vision of a circular economy for plastics that Borealis endorsed when joining The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. In a circular economy, plastics never become waste, and plastics production shifts from a model depending on the extraction of finite fossil resources towards one based on the circulation of materials. By scaling up the production of renewable-based plastics, Borealis and Neste actively support the shift towards a circular economy for plastics.”

  • Low carbon footprint of PLA confirmed by peer reviewed Life Cycle Assessment


    Total Corbion PLA's peer reviewed Life Cycle Impact Assessment of PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) produced from Sugarcane in Thailand has been published in the "Journal of Polymers and the Environment" and confirms PLA's low carbon footprint.

    aThe article provides up-to-date cradle-to-gate information on the environmental footprint of PLA produced in Thailand at commercial scale. All relevant environmental aspects of PLA production are analyzed in detail, covering carbon footprint as well emerging topics such as water footprint and direct land use change. The enormous potential to further reduce the environmental impacts of PLA is also demonstrated.

    "From a cradle-to-gate perspective the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of PLA is confirmed to be only 500 gram CO2 /kg of PLA" says François de Bie, Senior Marketing Director at Total Corbion PLA, "which is roughly a 75% reduction in carbon footprint versus most traditional plastics."

    PLA is a relatively new and innovative biopolymer and significant further reductions in the environmental footprint can be relatively easily achieved through improvements in the sugarcane farming, efficiency increases in the various production steps and the usage of renewable energy in the conversion process. De Bie "It is likely that in 10 years from now the cradle-to-gate GWP for PLA will have been reduced from plus 500 to minus 900 gram CO/kg PLA."

    Fresh water usage is another important environmental impact category which was included in the study. "The sugarcane plantations where we source biomass needed for the PLA production have very limited irrigation and are located in areas of low to medium water stress" according Ana Morão, Principal Scientist Sustainability at Corbion.

    On request of Corbion, GRAS GmBH conducted satellite imaging of the sugarcane plantation areas which was combined with the mapping of high carbon stock and biodiversity protected areas. This study lead to the conclusion that Corbion’s sourcing areas did not show significant land transformation.

    The Life cycle assessment (LCA) is performed according to the ISO 14040/44 standard methodology. The 16 environmental impact categories from ILCD 2011 Midpoint+ were considered for the hotspot analysis. As primary data actual industrial data were used for the sugar production, lactic acid production (Corbion) and PLA production (Total Corbion PLA), including various recently developed process insights.

    The full LCA article is available on the company’s website or can be found in the November 2019 edition of the "Journal of Polymers and the Environment" volume 27 issue 11, published by Springer nature.

  • PEF provides Paper Bottle with barrier properties


    Avantium has joined the Paper Bottle Project - an innovation community bringing together some of the world's leading players in materials, design and technology on the development of a sustainable paper bottle.

    nThe Paper Bottle Company - Paboco -, a joint venture between paper packaging material developer BillerudKorsnäs and bottle manufacturing specialist ALPLA - announced at the Paboco Pioneer Community Event in the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen last week that Avantium has joined the Paper Bottle Project. Avantium will be one of the technology providers for the fully plant-based and recyclable Paper Bottle. A thin layer of Avantium’s PEF (polyethylene furanoate) will provide the Paper Bottle with the high barrier properties (the ability to withstand gas permeability through the bottle) needed for beverages such as beer and carbonated soft drinks.

    In 2015 the large brewery Carlsberg Group joined the Paper Bottle Project, followed by leading brand owners such as cosmetics manufacturer L’Oréal, global spirits company The Absolut Company, soft drink company Coca-Cola Europe and global coatings company Teknos. The Paper Bottle Project now runs as its own business, under the name and brand of Paboco, the Paper Bottle Company.
    The Paper Bottle is the first of its kind for beer, carbonated and still drinks, beauty products and more, and uses renewable paper to build strength and structure. Avantium’s PEF offers a solution to provide the necessary barrier properties. PEF is a 100% plant-based and recyclable polymer suitable for use in a huge range of applications, including packaging of soft drinks, water, alcoholic beverages and fruit juices. PEF’s barrier and thermal properties are superior to conventional PET. In combination with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, the added functionality gives PEF all the attributes to become the next-generation polyester.

    The paper and PEF layers can be separated for recycling purposes and returned to the recycling stream. The Paper Bottle with the PEF layer is still under development. The focus of the current work is on building experience with the Pioneer Brands. Looking ahead, controlled testing is projected to start in 2020. 

    “Participating in the Paper Bottle Project and collaborating with like-minded companies within the Paboco Pioneer Community – from bottle manufacturers to consumer brands – on developing new sustainable packaging material is a great opportunity for Avantium. It is a milestone in the development of high-value applications such as specialty bottles. The Paper Bottle shows how we, together with partners, can use innovation to help shape packaging for a circular and sustainable future,” said Marcel Lubben, Managing Director Avantium Renewable Polymers.

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