• Braskem’s advances in plastic chemical recycling research

    DATE: 09/17/2020

    Published by: Braskem

    Committed to developing innovative solutions that contribute to circular economy and sustainable development, Braskem takes another important step to improve the technology of chemical recycling of post-consumption plastics. The company, which was already acting in partnership with EngePol – Polymer Engineering Laboratory of COPPE/UFRJ (Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Engineering Research of Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) and SENAI CETIQT, through SENAI Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers, has signed a cooperation agreement to enable the next phases of studies with the same education institutions and with Fábrica Carioca de Catalisadores (FCC S.A.).

    The contract was signed after Braskem participated in a selection process opened by SENAI, through public notice. Investments in this stage of the research are estimated at R$ 2.7 million, among financial and human resources of the institutions and companies involved.

    Since 2018, Braskem has been striving to increase the efficiency of pyrolysis technology, a process capable of breaking the molecules of plastic resin through heat, transforming it again into a raw material that can be reintegrated into the plastic production chain. The purpose of the project is to develop catalysts to improve the quality of the products generated in the plastic chemical recycling process.

    “Last year, after our first studies in chemical recycling, we identified the need to develop new catalysts. After evaluating some options, we met FCC S.A., a leading FCC catalysts supplier in the South American market, to compose the ongoing studies with SENAI CETIQT and COPPE/UFRJ. Now that we have a more complete body of research and access to the appropriate technology, it will be possible to gain agility to advance the development of a technically and economically viable chemical recycling solution”, says Gus Hutras, in charge for the Process Technology area at Braskem. “This project, which is still experimental, already demonstrates the great potential for positive impact on society, circular economy and sustainability,” he says.

    “FCC S.A.’s strategic planning explicitly contemplates the development of new products and markets. In this sense, we identify as priority the applications inserted in the circular economy and bio-economy, areas with an enormous growth potential. We are very confident in the result of this project together with Braskem, SENAI CETIQT and COPPE/UFRJ for the chemical recycling of unserviceable plastics from urban solid waste”, reports Sidney Martins, New Business coordinator at FCC S.A.

    Fabiana Quiroga, in charge for the Circular Economy area of Braskem in South America, points out the main advantage of investing in chemical recycling. “Through this process, the discarded plastic waste is processed and transformed into raw material again, which in turn will give rise to new plastic resins. We are walking this path: connecting research and innovation to create sustainable solutions. We want to, day by day, develop more business and initiatives for the recovery of plastic waste, so as to close the cycle as a whole,” she concludes.

    The research and teaching institutions that are Braskem’s partners in this research are also aligned with the purpose of contributing to the circular economy. “Our mission is to promote sustainability and competitiveness of the Brazilian chemical industry through the development of new products and processes. In the scope of circular economy, we are positioned as a strategic link for the materialization of solutions that promote positive impacts on the business of partner companies and the society as a whole,” says Paulo Coutinho, manager of SENAI CETIQT Institute for Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers.

    José Carlos Pinto, professor of the Chemical Engineering Program of COPPE/UFRJ and coordinator of the Polymerization Engineering Laboratory (EngePol) also believes in this join of forces. “Aiming to establish and consolidate the concepts of circular economy in the plastics sector, in recent years we have studied the processes of chemical recycling of plastics, with thermal and catalytic pyrolysis being the most promising techniques. The partnership with Braskem, FCC S.A. and SENAI CETIQT will be an excellent opportunity for these studies to reach greater scale,” he describes.

    Circular Economy in Braskem’s DNA

    Aware of its position as the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas and the world leader in the production of biopolymers, Braskem announced in November 2018 its positioning in favor of the Circular Economy, a series of global initiatives to boost the concept in the plastic production chain. Among the points, the company is committed also  to the development of partnerships with customers in the design of new products to expand and facilitate recycling and reuse of plastic packaging.

    In this scenario, the investment for the optimization of chemical recycling technology is another important action in favor of Circular Economy, which joins education initiatives to the consumer, encouraging recycling and conscious consumption, beyond the use of Life Cycle Assessment tools (AVC) and support actions to improve solid waste management.

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