BASF
German petrochemical giant launches own circular economy scheme / Closing the materials loop / Chemical recycling projects with partners
In its drive to accelerate sustainability and stay apace of the EU’s plans for a Circular Economy and a Green New Deal, BASF (Ludwigshafen / Germany; www.basf.com) has launched an ambitious plan to promote a circular economy in its own production cycles. Speaking at the group’s annual research press conference – held virtually for the first time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – CEO Martin Brudermüller stressed that innovations from the chemical industry are crucial to the transformation of the industrial economy from linear to circular value chains.

BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer and a major plastics producer focused on high-end engineering polymers and high-volume monomers, has committed to converting 250,000 t/y of recycled and waste-based raw materials into new products each year, starting in 2025. Concurrently, it aims to increase the share of sales with solutions for the circular economy to EUR 7 bn by 2030, double the current figure. To close as many loops as possible, Brudermüller said the German group is concentrating on three areas: new feedstocks, new material cycles and new business models.

In one area for which BASF is already famous, its “Verbund” integrated production – a circular economy in its own right – it plans to gradually replace fossil-based feedstocks with renewable or recycled input. In the “ChemCycling” initiative launched in 2018 (see Plasteurope.com of 21.11.2018) the chemicals and plastics group is working with external partners to find new outlets for the growing mountains of plastic packaging waste generated worldwide. The efforts build on a thermochemical process to transform post-consumer plastics unsuitable for mechanical recycling into pyrolysis oil that is now being fed into BASF’s production cycle to replace fossil-based primary feedstock.

Together with technology companies, in which BASF has made financial investments – including Quantafuel (Oslo / Norway; www.quantafuel.com) and Pyrum Innovations (Dillingen / Germany; www.pyrum.net) – its scientists are currently working on a pyrolysis oil that conforms to a constant specification even when the composition of the plastic mixture changes. As Brudermüller explained, efforts here have led to new sources of input waste, including mixed plastics and discarded car tyres. Earlier this year, Quantafuel started up a commercial-scale plant for plastic waste-derived pyrolysis oil in Skive / Denmark in cooperation with BASF, and in 2022 the partners plan to begin construction on a second-generation plant. In Dillingen / Germany, BASF and Pyrum plan to start building two additional production lines next year.

The German chemical giant is also working to close the material loop and intelligently combine mechanical and chemical recycling to bring about the “significant increase” it sees as necessary to boost currently unsatisfactory recycling levels. BASF’s research into chemical recycling has also pointed to synergies between chemical and mechanical recycling. As a global producer of plastics additives such as thermal stabilisers and antioxidants, light stabilisers and flame retardants, the group is leveraging its broad knowhow to develop additives that can specifically stabilise recycled plastics and improve their properties, thus allowing for multiple trips through mechanical recycling systems. Supporting projects in all of these fields enables BASF to support customers in lifting their own sustainability profile and improve their products, Brudermüller said.
18.12.2020 Plasteurope.com [246543-0]
Published on 18.12.2020
BASF: Pyrolyseöl als Werkstoff der ZukunftGerman version of this article...

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