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Issue 03/2022

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  • Healthcare
  • Beauty
  • Injection moulding
  • Renewable carbon
  • Biodegradable
  • Compostable
  • Biobased
  • Wwwbioplasticsmagazinecom
  • Sustainable
  • Technologies
  • Polymers
  • Carbon
  • Renewable
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Bioplastics
  • Recycling
  • Materials
Highlights: Injection Moulding Beauty & Healthcare Basics: Biocompatibility of PHA Starch

Materials Current and

Materials Current and future raw materials for renewable polymers When it comes to plastics production, we are still crude oil junkies. The European Commission projects that by 2050, some 20 % of the global crude oil production could be used to produce plastics, up from some 5–10 % today. In fact, plastics production is expected to be the major driver of growth of the crude oil industry. As we all know the cost of using fossil crude oil – and it’s not the price tag on the barrel, but the real cost on our society and planet – this is a trend we have to stop: we have to get rid of fossil resources in plastics production. And renewable polymers are a way to contribute to that goal. But it’s quite a road that lays ahead of us. In 2019, the production of polymers from renewable raw materials amounted to 3.8 million tonnes. What sounds like a lot is actually just about 1 % of the production of fossil polymers. The good news is that renewable solutions are on the rise. More and more companies are joining in, announcing, and building production capacities. The transformation of the polymers industry is in progress. In 2021, the European Commission brought up a potential mandate for sustainable raw materials in polymers production, mentioning a quota of 20 % by 2030. Such a goal would of course contribute to accelerating the shift away from fossil. Yet, the huge pile of fossil begs the question of the availability of renewable raw materials. Will we have sufficient raw materials to supply the vast and increasing demand for feedstock from the industry? Looking at the production at Neste, there is currently a renewables capacity of some 3.3 million tonnes per year. This will further increase to 4.5 million tonnes in early 2023, and the aim is to grow it further to 5.5 by the end of 2023. Over the past years, Neste has shifted more and more to using waste and residues as raw materials, while also exploring new raw materials and technologies. Neste believes that this is the right way as the technology is one thing, the public acceptance of raw materials is another. In 2021, some 92 % of their renewable raw material input was waste and residues. These waste and residues include a wide range of materials used in their renewables production, including used cooking oil, animal fat waste, or waste and residues from vegetable oil production. Sticking to their current raw material pool of waste and residues, Neste estimates their availability to be approximately up to 40 million tonnes per year worldwide in 2030. While this figure shows that there is still some room to grow capacities, it also shows that this pool wouldn’t be sufficient to cover the hundreds of millions of tonnes in feedstock demand. It makes it obvious that we need to tap additional raw material pools. What could these look like? • Lignocellulose i.e. plant-based biomass from forestry and agriculture that is largely underutilised or currently has only lower-value uses. While not a new concept, the availability of lignocellulosic waste and residues is immense. • Novel vegetable oils: Neste is exploring advanced, sustainable agricultural concepts that do not create additional demand for agricultural land. The idea is to not replace existing cultivation or convert new areas for cultivation purposes. Instead, concepts such as “winter cropping” are used to cultivate additional crops off-season, or “silvopasture”, which aims at cultivating crops on pasture land alongside cattle – and also the concept of cultivating crops contributing to regenerative agricultural concepts. • Finally, Neste is also looking at microalgae, among many other alternatives. The big advantage of photosynthetic microalgae is that it can be cultivated wherever there is water and sunlight – including in saltwater and land areas unsuitable for other types of cultivation. Selection of (potential) renewable raw materials for polymers. Source: Neste 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

By: By Lars Börger Vice President Strategy and Long-term Development Neste Renewable Polymers and Chemicals Espoo, Finland COMPEO Besides these fully biobased materials, Neste is also working on other circular materials to provide a basis for high-quality feedstock solutions: • Neste is exploring various fractions of municipal solid waste that currently cannot be or are not being recycled. The waste can consist of almost any discarded materials and their aim is to utilise these untapped waste streams. The challenge is finding suitable sources and locations to create value chains from waste collection through pre-treatment to refining. • The technologies that are explored also include Powerto-X (PtX) solutions. The key to these is electrolysis to produce hydrogen from renewable sources such as wind or solar power. Combining this hydrogen with carbon from industrial CO 2 emissions via Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) technologies can produce fuels and feedstock for polymers alike. • Another important technology already briefly mentioned is chemical recycling. This aims at processing otherwise hard-to-recycle waste plastic into highquality feedstock for new polymers, complementing existing mechanical recycling technologies. Neste believes in this technology and has already processed several hundred tonnes of liquefied waste plastic at their refinery in Porvoo, Finland, in the course of trial runs, successfully replacing fossil raw materials. Unlocking new raw material pools through innovation will significantly increase the potential for renewable polymers. It will take time to develop these solutions and scale up the capacities for processing them, but in the long run, the pool of raw materials may increase significantly. They will become indispensable in delivering emissions reductions and decreasing our dependence on fossil resources. What’s important: as nobody can predict the future and technology developments, we need to be open to all kinds of technologies and feedstocks that may make a contribution. And aside from the technologies, we need regulators to support this approach as they hold the key to ensuring the eligibility of a broad raw material pool. But if we work together – on the technology and the regulation side – the future of renewable polymers can be one of significant volumes and carbon neutrality, because one thing is certain: we cannot continue being crude oil junkies and use additional virgin fossil, neither in chemicals nor in other sectors. Leading compounding technology for heat- and shear-sensitive plastics Uniquely efficient. Incredibly versatile. Amazingly flexible. With its new COMPEO Kneader series, BUSS continues to offer continuous compounding solutions that set the standard for heat- and shear-sensitive applications, in all industries, including for biopolymers. • Moderate, uniform shear rates • Extremely low temperature profile • Efficient injection of liquid components • Precise temperature control • High filler loadings bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17 27

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