Brazilian company starts production of green polyethylene
world's first internationally certified renewable polyethylene made
from sugarcane ethanol.
Braskem, the second largest Brazilian industrial company owned by the private sector, said that Beta Analytic has certified that the material contained only renewable raw materials. Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of renewable or biodegradable plastics as an alternative to petroleum-based packaging such as the polyethylene. These are made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, in response to projections that consumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally-friendly packaging. Some companies predict that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year. Braskem's "green polymer" is a high-density polyethylene, one of the resins most widely used in flexible packagings. Braskem spent about US$5m developing the material. Some of this amount was allocated to implementing a pilot unit for the production of ethane, the base for the production of polyethylene. The company this month reported that the pilot unit is already producing sufficient quantities for commercial development of the product. "The project's target customer will soon receive the green polyethylene and have the opportunity to confirm the performance of the product, which can meet all of the quality standards required to be competitive in the international market," Braskem stated in an announcement. Braskem is now completing the technical and economic specification process for the material. The company expects the startup of green polyethylene production on an industrial scale in late 2009. The company is planning for a start-up production capacity of up to 200,000 tonnes. It is targeting the material at the food, cosmetics and personal-hygiene sectors, among others. "Evaluations conducted in the initial phase of the project ascertained enormous potential for growth and appreciation in the green polymer market," Braskem stated. "Since both resins are equal in terms of properties and performance, the plastics manufacturing industry should benefit from this important development with no need to invest in new industrial equipment."