Sumitomo Chemical Completes Construction of Pilot Facility to Produce Renewable Ethanol-Based Ethylene for Environmentally-Sustainable Polyolefin
A New Initiative toward Achieving a Circular Economy
Apr. 11, 2022
Sumitomo Chemical completed the construction at its Chiba Works (Ichihara, Chiba, Japan) of a pilot facility to manufacture ethylene using renewable ethanol as a raw material. The Company will verify an ethylene manufacturing technology at this new facility to commercialize polyolefin products that are environmentally sustainable and compatible with a circular economy, and will provide samples to develop the market, with the aim of contributing to creating a circular economy.
Plastics such as polyolefin are essential materials for everyday life and are widely used in a variety of applications, such as automobiles, electronic devices, and packages and containers. Meanwhile, it has become a pressing global issue to recycle plastic products made from fossil resources and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated over their lifecycle, from production to disposal after use.
The new pilot facility at Chiba Works will produce ethylene from ethanol produced from waste by SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD., with which Sumitomo Chemical is collaborating on circular economy initiatives, as well as from bio-ethanol derived from biomass, such as sugarcane and corn. Leveraging the R&D and process engineering capabilities it has cultivated over many years, Sumitomo Chemical will work on the validation and scale-up of a manufacturing technology for converting renewable ethanol into ethylene*1, while also working to produce, from renewable ethanol-based ethylene, polyolefin products with quality equivalent to conventional polyolefin, with the aim of commercializing it in FY2025.
In addition, aiming to commercialize those polyolefin products as environmentally-sustainable products, Sumitomo Chemical will work to quantify their impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by life-cycle assessment using the Company’s proprietary carbon footprint calculation system. It will also begin an effort to obtain ISCC PLUS certification*2 for those polyolefin products to manage them across its entire supply chain, from raw materials to finished products, by applying the mass balance approach.*3 In addition, Sumitomo Chemical will launch a new website to provide customers with useful information on, and promote the marketing of, its sustainable technologies and products. The Company will consider selling the renewable ethanol-based polyolefin products under its Meguri®*4 brand, launched last year, to raise their profile in society and their value.
In the new Corporate Business Plan for FY2022 to FY2024, Sumitomo Chemical is committed to devoting all its capabilities as a diversified chemical company to helping resolve major social issues, and to transforming its business portfolio to advance green transformation (GX). The Company will accelerate efforts to recycle plastic resources together with various stakeholders and contribute to creating a circular economy.
*1 Atol® technology licensed from Axens, a wholly owned subsidiary of IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN).
*2 A global certification system offered by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), an independent body, to certify and manage sustainable products derived from biomass or recycled raw materials across the supply chain by applying the mass balance approach.
*3 In the mass balance approach, when a product is manufactured from a mixture of a raw material that has a certain property and a raw material that does not have, a part of the output of the product is considered manufactured from the raw material that has a certain property in proportion to the amount of that raw material used in manufacturing the product.
*4 Sumitomo Chemical’s original brand for plastic products that use recycling technology. Under the brand, the Company plans to provide plastic products, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and acrylic resin, manufactured using chemical recycling technology and material recycling technology.
Pilot facility to manufacture ethylene using renewable ethanol as a raw material
Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.
Corporate Communications Dept.