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05/12/2019 09:33

Reflections on developing sustainable products

Key decision makers at Pirelli, Borealis and Nynas share their views on how to meet demands for more sustainable products and solutions.

"Our commitment to sustainability focuses on circularity"

"Borealis focuses on circularity, and an increased use of recycled and renewable resources plays a part in that commitment to sustainability. This means that as a plastics producer, we have set ourselves an extra challenge and we aim to be the leaders within our industry.

Borealis was the first European polyolefin producer to acquire a plastics recycling company. To that first recycling plant in Germany (MtM) we have since added another one in Austria (Ecoplast). Together with our customers, we develop new products from recycled material and new designs for recycling, identifying new opportunities and expanding the scope for plastic recycling.

This also includes chemical recycling, where plastic materials are used as feedstock (raw materials) for new products. Chemical recycling is high on the agenda for many chemicals and oil companies, and several initiatives are under development. Chemical recycling is probably the best option for material that is not easily recycled, such as mixed, contaminated or low quality materials.

We are also looking at how we can introduce biobased feedstock, either as biobased naphtha from refineries or ethanol/methanol from forest residues. Another alternative could be to utilise CO2 together with hydrogen. Many of these options require significant investments and a strong premium from customers in order to be realised.

In everything we do, we also focus on limiting our carbon footprint by reducing the energy we use – it’s another important part of our commitment to sustainability and a circular economy.”

NAME: Anders Fröberg
COMPANY: Borealis 
TITLE: Director Manufacturing Excellence 
BACKGROUND: Working with Sustainable Chemistry 2030, a vision for the chemical companies in Stenungsund, Sweden. Engaged in plastic recycling in Sweden through the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme.

"These developments are only in the starting phase"

"Nynas is not an oil company in the ordinary sense of the word. Our products are not for fuel use and in their applications they contribute to the sustainable development of our customers through e.g. a long service life, in some cases up to 50 years. Nynas oils are found in everything from nappies and car tyres to aircraft and transformers.

With industry looking for ever more sustainable solutions, we strive to meet that demand, whether this be for improved product performance or more efficient transport solutions. Another important area is the feedstock base, and this is the reason why, in 2019, we launched our first ever non-mineral oil-based products, aimed at the tyre and transformer markets.

These developments are only in the starting phase. In coming years, we shall no doubt be seeing other bio-based products from Nynas, complementing our wide portfolio of mineral oil-based products. The key to our success, both as regards performance and sustainable value creation, is that this work is progressing in close cooperation with our customers."

NAME: Marika Rangstedt
COMPANY: Nynas
TITLE: Manager Sustainable Development Naphthenics
BACKGROUND: MSc in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Marika joined Nynas in 1999. She predominantly held positions within R&D, including many years as Manager Technical Development and Market Support before the move to Sustainable Development.

"We focus on renewable materials in our production"

"As Pirelli is strongly committed to sustainable development, we have several ongoing projects that address different aspects in this arena. Our research and innovation focus on innovative materials that are able to decrease the environmental impact while further increasing the performance of the product. For a selected product segment, our target for 2025 is to double the amount of renewable materials used and to reduce fossil- based ones, compared with 2017.

Another fundamental aspect of Pirelli’s approach concerns responsible procurement of, for example, natural rubber, a key material in tyre production. We work with our suppliers to cascade good practices along the supply chain to the farmers upstream, in order to preserve forests, protect workers’ rights and promote local development.

In our ongoing projects aimed at increasing the share of renewable materials in our products, R&D partnerships with our suppliers play a vital role. New materials proposed for our products must follow a strict testing process in our laboratories to find the most promising ones. These are then brought forward for factory trials. It is essential that new materials from renewable sources, as with all materials used by Pirelli, meet our technical specifications and compound property requirements. They must fully guarantee the final product’s safety and performance.

In addition to the cooperation with suppliers, we are also involved in a number of projects with universities and research institutes.”

NAMES: Giuseppina Ratti and Francesco Parazzoli
COMPANY: Pirelli Tyres
TITLE: R&D, Raw Materials Development
BACKGROUND: PhD in chemistry

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