Biobased Materials

Braskem and Sojitz Corporation launch Sustainea

2:70 min ManagementBiobased Material
Philadelphia, PA, United States

Braskem, pioneer in bioproducts production on an industrial scale, and Sojitz, a Japan-oriented global trading company, have announced the launch of Sustainea, which will produce and market bioMEG (monoethylene glycol) and bioMPG (monopropylene glycol). The market launch of the brand follows the approval of the joint venture (the process began in March 2022) by antitrust authorities.

The business plan envisages the construction of three industrial plants, with the first unit slated for operational startup in 2025, taking advantage of market opportunities and feedstock availability. The locations where the industrial units will be built have not been defined yet and could be in Europe, Asia, the United States or Brazil. The expectation in the business plan is that, once the technology is approved, the plants will have a combined production capacity of up to 700,000 thousand tons per year of bioMEG.

Sustainea will combine Braskem's expertise in the industrial production and sale of chemicals and plastics made from renewable sources with Sojitz's strong presence in Asia, a region that concentrates 80% of the global MEG market and where its consumption registered the highest growth. "This new company represents the joint efforts of both companies, which consider investments in renewable businesses of strategic importance.  Braskem has a comprehensive and global strategy of growth in the green sector, with the plan to increase its capacity in 1 million tons of bioproducts until 2030 Sojitz has a strong presence in Asia and has been Braskem's partner for over 10 years in this segment," said Gustavo Sergi, CEO of Sustainea Bioglycols.

One of the project's goals is to be the global market leader in bioMEG, a raw material used in the production of PET (polyethylene terephthalate). "Sustainea is born as a disruptive initiative in the petrochemicals market. We wish to positively impact the polyester and PET markets, which are continuing to grow, especially in Asia, driving the strong demand for sustainable and renewable products. Sustainea will also establish an entire production chain to ensure the supply of sustainable and competitive feedstock, as well as a logistics operation that ensures the lowest possible carbon footprint," he explained.

MEG is a raw material for PET, which has numerous applications and is an essential input in sectors such as textiles and packaging, especially beverage bottles. Currently, it is produced mainly from fossil-based raw materials such as naphtha, gas or coal, and its global market stands at around US$25 billion. On the other hand, monopropylene glycol (MPG) is a product that has a wide range of applications from unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), commonly used in construction sector, to cosmetics.

Technology Development

In 2017, Braskem partnered with Topsoe AS (previously known as Haldor Topsoe), the world leader in solutions and technologies for the production of energy efficient fuels and chemicals, to test the innovative technology behind the conversion of sugar into bioMEG and bioMPG on a demonstration scale. Resulting from the technological cooperation between the two companies, the first bioMEG samples were produced in 2020. The technology for large-scale production is the final development stage and should be concluded within a year.

"We embarked on a journey alongside our partners, combining the experience of over 70 years of Danish company Topsoe AS, the commercial expertise and sustainable development ambitions of Sojitz Corporation and Braskem's experience as the leader in renewable chemicals and plastics to achieve our goal of delivering a sustainable solution with the potential to revolutionize the textile and PET packaging markets," explained Gustavo Sergi. "The initiative is also aligned with the goals set by Braskem of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2050, underlining the company's commitment to sustainable development by producing renewable chemicals."

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