25. Feb 2021
Braskem has announced plans to increase the capacity of its green ethylene unit in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sulhe. Derived from sugarcane ethanol, the ethylene produced here is used in the production of Braskem’s renewable PE and EVA resins.
The company is now investing $61 million to expand the capacity of this unit from the current 200kton/year up to 260 kton/year. The project will be rolled out in 2021 and should be concluded in the fourth quarter of 2022.
“The increase in biopolymer capacity and production reflects healthy growth in demand from society and our partners for sustainable products, which has increased significantly in recent years. It’s also a strong signal of Braskem’s commitment towards sustainable development which reflects the values of our supply chain partners and our customers. Our business expansion aims to consolidate Braskem’s leadership of the biopolymers market,” said Marco Jansen, global biopolymers leader at Braskem.
Braskem initially started exploring the production of biopolymers from sugarcane in 2007 at the Technology and Innovation Center in the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, the sector’s largest and most modern research complex in Latin America. The company invested US$290 million in building the industrial unit and, in 2010, unveiled the world’s first polyethylene (PE) produced from renewable resources on an industrial scale, today marketed under the I’m green bio-based brand.
Since then, Braskem has ramped up production, and expanded the brand with new renewable solutions such as its I’m green bio-based EVA, a resin used in the automotive and footwear sectors, amongst others.
Braskem’s drive to create solutions from sugarcane is directly connected to its sustainability strategy of increasingly investing in products developed from raw materials derived from renewable resources. Currently, the portfolio of renewable resins is exported to over 30 countries and is already used in the packaging of products of more than 250 major brands, such as lbirds, DUO UK, Grupo Boticário, Join The Pipe, Johnson&Johnson, Natura & Co, Nissin, Shiseido and Tetra Pak.
“It is no longer possible to think of a business model that does not consider production processes with the least environmental impact and circular economy practices. The world has numerous challenges ahead, such as climate change and the availability of natural resources like water. As an important driver of development in diverse economic sectors, Braskem assumes joint responsibility for helping the market to move in the right direction,” added Jansen.
Braskem’s renewable resins offer the same quality and properties as their fossil-based counterparts, but with the advantage of capturing, during the production stage, up to 3.09 tons of CO2 per ton of polyethylene produced and up to 2.1 tons of CO2 per ton of renewable EVA produced. Given that the product has been manufactured by Braskem for 10 years, the company estimates that the solution has averted the emission of 5.54 million tons of CO2 during this period.
The expansion of biopolymer production capacity will reduce 185 kton of CO2 from Braskem’s target to become a carbon neutral company by 2050.
“Carbon neutralization is one of the most viable paths to minimize the impacts of climate change. Hence, increasing our production of plastic derived from sugarcane will bring significant gains both for us and our clients around the world in terms of sustainability,” says Jansen.
He also stressed that during the project, Braskem’s green ethylene production capacity would continue without causing any interruption to current production, and clients will be served normally.