Some chemical manufacturer are stepping up

Despite the seemingly overwhelming challenges, circular economy interventions are increasingly being adopted by large chemical enterprises. In order to stimulate the circular economy, in 2019 alone, more than a dozen chemical giants launched sustainable raw material and resource recovery solutions through their corporate venture capital and R & D and / or internal business innovation. The cycle related business model adopted by chemical manufacturers depends on their operating position in the value chain and the downstream market they serve, but they also have some common investment and innovation themes.

Internal cycle intervention is mainly aimed at introducing sustainable / waste raw materials or improving the recyclability or biodegradability of final products in the early stage of product design. Two major specialty chemicals and materials companies Royal DSM and Eastman have deployed new targets or products to use sustainable raw materials, Dyneema? Fibers (with the goal of incorporating 60% of the bio based materials into them by 2030) and NAIA ™ Cellulose yarn (Sustainable fabric collection). Several companies have also launched internal waste conversion chemicals and waste conversion fuel plans. For example, Rheticus II of Evonik uses carbon dioxide for artificial photosynthesis to produce chemicals, and products jointly developed by Dow Chemical and Rb and drukpol. Flexographic, with its partnership with mespack partners, provides packaging solution design to recycle. Chemical companies are increasing their attention to the chemical recovery of mixed polymers to reuse molecular blocks without damaging quality. This is evidenced by the carbon renewable technology launched by Eastman in 2019.

Partnership helps to open up the way to a cycle

Chemical manufacturers have also launched several external cooperation and investment to coordinate their internal initiatives. In the area of sustainable raw materials, for example:

Dow chemical works with UPM biofuels to commercialize its plastic products for packaging, which is a wood based renewable raw material

Royal dsman works with French biochemical expert metex to deploy bio based, non transgenic raw materials for natural cosmetics on a large scale

Cowestero works with genomatica (2013, also a BASF technology licensor) to develop high-performance materials based on renewable raw materials.

In terms of resource recovery, a few chemical majors have deployed large-scale waste conversion fuel / chemical projects. As part of the chemcyclingtm project, BASF invested in quantauel, a company specializing in pyrolysis and oil purification of mixed plastic waste. Dow Chemical, in cooperation with Phoenix ecological group, provides raw materials for pyrolysis oil made from recycled plastic waste. Nouryon has developed a waste conversion chemical plant with enerkem, Air Liquide France, port Rotterdam and shell to produce advanced bio methanol from waste. In addition, nouryon works with gasuni to supply green hydrogen to biomcn, one of Europe's largest methanol producers, for the production of renewable methanol from carbon dioxide.

Close attention to other resource recovery solutions in downstream markets

The introduction of automotive electrification and fuel efficiency policies and standards has promoted the huge demand of special materials and chemicals industry, especially the recovery of lightweight composite materials and precious metal recovery batteries. For example, the EU plans to launch up to $9billion in investment in the value chain of lithium-ion batteries, from mining, manufacturing to scrap management, through the European battery alliance.