Sector News

Neste, Suntory, ENEOS and Mitsubishi Corporation join forces on bio-based PET production

August 27, 2023
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Neste has entered a partnership with Suntory, ENEOS and Mitsubishi Corporation to produce PET resin made with Neste RE, a feedstock made from bio-based raw materials like waste and residue, on a commercial scale.

ENEOS is a new partner for Neste in Japan and will use bio-intermediates based on Neste RE to produce bio-PX (Bio-Paraxylene) at its Mizushima Refinery in Okayama, Japan.

The bio-PX will then be converted to purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and subsequently to PET resin that Suntory will use to manufacture its PET bottles for beverages. Mitsubishi Corporation will coordinate the collaboration between the value chain partners.

Lilyana Budyanto, head of sustainable partnerships APAC at Neste Renewable Polymers and Chemicals business unit, tells Packaging Insights: “This marks the first time that we are using renewable Neste RE in a value chain leading to PET and PET bottles.”

“Given the important role PET plays in packaging, we consider it an important pilot project: It shows that replacing fossil resources is possible here as well – without compromises on quality, safety or properties of the materials,” she says.

Budyanto says the collaboration brings another item to the list of applications for renewable Neste RE, which is already used for various packaging applications.

A bio-based plastic bottle.
Bio-based PET production is expected to reduce reliance on fossil-based fuels.
“There is a dire need to make packaging more [environmentally] sustainable and reduce the carbon footprint of packaging solutions. This cooperation is an example of how it can be done.”

Renewable rebellion
Innova Market Insights listed “Renewable Rebellion” as one of its top trends for 2023, noting that geopolitical uncertainties like the war in Ukraine are causing fluctuations in the price of oil and gas, which is driving many industries away from fossil-based fuels and toward renewable resources like agro waste.

“In order to tackle the imminent climate crisis and its consequences, companies are required to take responsibility now,” says Budyanto.

“Through partnering along the value chain, Neste can contribute to reducing the polymers and chemicals industry’s dependence on fossil resources as well as to manufacturing of products that have a lower carbon footprint.”

Neste is currently using waste cooking oil from tens of thousands of restaurants across the US as a renewable fuel. The oils are refined to remove impurities and can then be utilized to repower the same industries from where they are collected.

For example, cooking oil collected at an airport restaurant can be turned into aviation fuel. Neste has called this “a beautiful example of the circular economy.”

Mass balance approach
Neste will apply a mass balance approach to allocate bio-based materials to the PET bottles. Mass balance is an accounting principle that matches inputs (such as plastic waste) with outputs from a recycling or production process to determine recycled content levels.

“The mass balancing applied ensures that we can allocate a certain amount of renewable raw materials to a respective amount of PET bottles – although the renewable materials may be mixed with fossil materials throughout the value chain,” says Budyanto.

“Mass balancing is an important approach to make the transformation of the industry reality, especially as long as the availability of renewable and recycled solutions is limited and materials are mixed with conventional ones. It allows the partial exchange of materials as well as the ramp-up of alternative materials, benefiting the environment.”

By Louis Gore-Langton


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