Neste and LyondellBasell claim bioplastic first

Article by Adam Duckett

NESTE and LyondellBasell are claiming an industry-first with the parallel, commercial-scale production of bio-based polypropylene and bio-based polyethylene.

Neste provided the drop-in feedstock, derived from animal-fat wastes and residues from vegetable oil processing, and LyondellBasell converted this directly into polyethylene and polypropylene at its largest European production site in Wesseling, Germany.

The companies said the project produced several thousand tons of bio-based plastics, which will be used to produce food packaging and marketed under LyondellBasell’s circular economy brands Circulen and Circulen Plus. An independent firm tested the polymers using carbon tracers and confirmed they contained over 30% renewable content. Some of the trial material has since been sold to clingfilm producer Cofresco.

Biobased plastics currently represent less than 1% of the 335m t/y of plastic produced globally, according to figures from industry association European Bioplastics. Of the 2.11m t of bio-based plastics produced in 2018, polyethylene made up 9.5% of the market while there was no production of polypropylene.

“We are excited to enable the plastics industry to introduce more bio-based material into its offering,” said Neste’s CEO Peter Vanacker. “It is very satisfying to see Neste’s renewable hydrocarbons performing perfectly in a commercial scale production of bio-based polymers, providing a drop-in replacement option to fossil materials.”

Last year, Neste agreed with Ikea to pilot commercial-scale production of bio-based polypropylene, beginning in Q3 last year. Ikea is aiming to substitute all of the plastics used in its products with recycled or renewable materials by 2030.

Article by Adam Duckett

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