Feiplastic '19: Plastics waste concerns grow in Brazil

Author: Al Greenwood


SAO PAULO (ICIS)--The concerns about plastic waste, recycling and sustainability are growing in Brazil just as they are in countries around the world.

Sustainability was never absent in Brazil, said Edison Terra, vice president of Braskem's business unit for polyolefins, renewables and Europe.

He made his comments on the sidelines of the Feiplastic plastic trade show.

In fact, Braskem has been producing renewable polyethylene (PE) for about a decade at its Triunfo site in Rio Grande do Sul state.

The plant's ethylene is produce by dehydrating ethanol.

However, concerns about sustainability and plastics have increased in the past couple of years in Brazil, Terra said, adding that part of this is due to the global nature of consumer brands.

Regardless of the cause, Braskem is redoubling its efforts to promote recycling and to develop sustainable products.

The company is a charter member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW).

It outlined eight goals to promote sustainability and the circular economy.

Some of these would combine company programmes that already exist.

Braskem already has a recycling programme called Wecycle, in which it cooperates with other groups and companies to encourage consumers to recycle plastic.

Often, recycled plastic cannot meet the requirements of processors if it is not combined with virgin resin.

Braskem could combine the plastic recovered through its Wecycle programme with virgin PE produced from its renewable plant in Triunfo, said Terra (pictured).

The result would be PE made of 100% renewable content.

Braskem is also producing other materials beyond PE from its renewable ethylene technology.

The company has launched renewable ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), which it developed in partnership with Allbirds. Allbirds will use the material in its new line of footwear called Sugar.

Braskem has teamed up with Haldor Topsoe to build a demonstration plant that produces renewable monoethylene glycol (MEG), one of the two monomers used to make polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

These renewable chemicals are derived from ethanol, which is produced by fermenting sugar.

Already, Braskem has a research lab in Campinas, Sao Paulo state that incorporates some of the latest trends in industrial biotechnology, from big data to artificial intelligence.

Recently, Braskem has started operating another research centre in Boston, Massachusetts, to further develop biotechnology and advanced materials.

The Feira Internacional do Plastic (Feiplastic) takes place on 22-26 April in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Click here to see regulatory targets and a list of chemical and mechanical recyclers on the ICIS Circular Economy topic page

Pictures sources: Jochen Tack/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock and Braskem

Interview article by Al Greenwood