SEKISUI CHEMICAL and Sumitomo Chemical to Cooperate on Circular Economy Initiative Manufacturing Polyolefin using Waste as Raw Material

  • SEKISUI CHEMICAL
  • SUMITOMO CHEMICAL

Feb 27, 2020
SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD.
Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.

SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. (President and Representative Director: Teiji Koge; hereinafter, “SEKISUI CHEMICAL”) and SUMITOMO CHEMICAL COMPANY, LIMITED (Representative Director & President: Keiichi Iwata; hereinafter, “Sumitomo Chemical”) have agreed to form a strategic alliance to benefit society by deploying technology for manufacturing polyolefin using waste as a raw material. This alliance combines SEKISUI CHEMICAL’s production technology for transforming waste into ethanol with Sumitomo Chemical’s technological know-how in manufacturing polyolefin, thereby promoting circular economy initiatives to chemically recycle waste into polyolefin. Pilot production will begin in fiscal 2022, with SEKISUI CHEMICAL turning waste into ethanol, and Sumitomo Chemical using this ethanol as raw material for polyolefin. A full-scale market launch of this production method is expected in fiscal 2025.

Japan discards approximately 60 million tons*1 of combustible waste each year. When converted to energy, this equates to approximately 200 trillion kcal. The amount of combustible waste is significantly larger than the amount of fossil fuels used to produce plastic materials in Japan (approximately 30 million tons*2 annually), which is equivalent to roughly 150 trillion kcal in energy. However, the effort to reuse combustible waste is yet to be fully implemented, and most waste is currently incinerated or buried in landfills. Recycling efforts have been hampered by difficulty in utilizing waste as industrial raw material, since the composition and quality of combustible waste varies widely.

In December 2017, SEKISUI CHEMICAL, in cooperation with a U.S. company, LanzaTech Inc., succeeded in developing a new production technology. This technology enables gasification of combustible waste accumulated at waste disposal facilities into carbon monoxide and hydrogen without the need for waste separation, and converts these gases into ethanol using a microbial catalyst, which obviates the need for heat or pressure. Meanwhile, Sumitomo Chemical has developed and accumulated, over many years in petrochemical field, proprietary technology and know-how, and is now developing technology to manufacture polyolefin from ethylene using waste-derived ethanol as a raw material. This alliance will make it possible to introduce this waste-derived ethanol into the production cycle of organic chemical materials, such as daily-use plastics, and will enable the creation of a circular economy that uses waste as a raw material to manufacture polyolefin. This will help us reduce the use of new fossil fuels, CO2 emissions from incinerating waste, and plastic waste, thereby contributing to a sustainable society.

SEKISUI CHEMICAL and Sumitomo Chemical to Cooperate on Circular Economy Initiative Manufacturing Polyolefin using Waste as Raw Material

SEKISUI CHEMICAL has defined its Environment Management Policy based on its mission “to be a Global Environmental Top Runner that contributes to the realization of a sustainable society by enabling the continuous growth and co-existence of ecology and the economy.” Specifically, converting waste into raw materials is a mission that needs to be accomplished in order to pass on an affluent society to the next generation, and this is a challenging issue that should be undertaken boldly despite its extreme difficulty. Based on this belief, SEKISUI CHEMICAL is working to develop technologies that efficiently use waste as resources. In addition, SEKISUI CHEMICAL is aiming to make the new concept of an extremely resource-recycling society into a reality—something that has never been achieved before—through the utilization of waste, as well as to encourage societal recognition and market formation befitting the environmental value of this new concept by not only expanding its own businesses but also actively promoting cooperation with external parties.

Sumitomo Chemical has identified contribution to reducing environmental impact as one of material issues to be addressed by management. To promote chemical recycling, the company will set up a new unit for the development of technologies to reduce environmental impact while actively promoting open innovation. Through these efforts, Sumitomo Chemical is accelerating the development of solutions, including carbon recycling technologies to address the waste plastics issue, and greenhouse gas emission reduction technologies. Sumitomo Chemical aims to create a new value chain contributing to a circular economy, by providing its customers with the chemically recycled polyolefin.

SEKISUI CHEMICAL and Sumitomo Chemical will promote circular economy initiatives for the implementation in society of technology for manufacturing polyolefin from wastes.

*1 Source: Calculated by SEKISUI CHEMICAL based on “Reports on surveys of transboundary movement of waste, and of the actual status of the recycling volume of waste, etc.” issued by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
*2 Source: “Plastic Products, Plastic Waste and Resource Recovery” issued by the Plastic Waste Management Institute Japan.

About SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group

Headquartered in Japan, SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. (TSE: 4204) and its subsidiaries make up the SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group. 26,000 employees in over 200 companies throughout 21 countries aim to contribute to improving the lives of the people of the world and the earth’s environment. Thanks to a history of innovation, dedication and a pioneering spirit, SEKISUI CHEMICAL now holds leading positions in its three diverse business divisions as well as top global market share in interlayer film, foam products, conductive particles and more.
Since its foundation in 1947, the SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group has dedicated itself to social and environmental contribution and is now an internationally recognized leader in sustainability and environmental initiatives, having recently been selected as one of the Global 100 most sustainable companies. SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group will continue to maintain a strong corporate presence for 100 years and beyond.

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This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements due to changes in global economic, business, competitive market and regulatory factors.