Sector News

Neste’s efforts toward sustainable circularity in the chemical industry

March 27, 2024

In this episode of Borderless Executive Live, our host Andrew Kris, a founding partner at Borderless, welcomes Valerio Coppini, Vice President of Business Development at Neste, for a deep dive into sustainability in the chemical industry, focusing on Neste’s approach to fostering a Circular Economy.

Polymers Leading the Way for Sustainability Innovation

With the chemical sector responsible for 15% of worldwide CO2 emissions, identifying and implementing sustainable practices within this sector is crucial. Polymers, compromising approximately half of the industry’s output, are at the forefront of these sustainability efforts, pioneering efforts to address environmental protection and reduce CO2 emissions. Valerio plays a vital role in driving Neste’s renewable polymer chemicals business to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the company’s customers through innovative, renewable solutions.

Is Circularity the Solution?

While mechanical recycling contributes to about 10% of global plastic recycling, its limitations in material degradation and quality output bring significant challenges. “When we are transforming plastic waste into new plastics, we’re going to lose 30 percent of the original material in every cycle” Valerio notes. Neste is pioneering the use of renewable biomass feedstock to replace the loss during the process, aiming to enhance the recycling process’s sustainability and efficiency. Valerio envisions this approach evolving into a ‘fully green circular cycle’ after several recycling iterations, significantly minimizing the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Valerio shares the ‘Renewable Feedstock’ concept, a revolutionary step where waste, residues, and biomass are transformed into valuable resources. This practice is especially vital in regions like Europe, where traditional feedstock is scarce, setting Neste apart as a leader in sustainability. – “The ‘ABC’ of Neste,” as Valerio puts it.

Neste’s efforts have already yielded substantial progress, with the production of renewable hydrocarbons increasing from 3.3 million tons to an anticipated 7 million tons in just three years. Although this achievement falls short of the global demand of 1 billion, it represents a significant stride towards diminishing the chemical industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Regulatory Frameworks and Market Dynamics

There’s a clear shift towards adoption of renewable and circular methods being preferred by payers, but the chemical industry grapples with an imbalance in incentives, especially when compared to the more structured mandates in the transportation sector.

Progress such as the recent Antwerp Declaration, a commitment by over 70 European chemical companies to low-carbon and sustainable chemistry, cements the significance of this topic for the industry’s competitiveness and future. “Sustainability and low carbon are becoming pillars of the future European chemical industry,” Valerio says.

The Human Element in Sustainability Efforts

Valerio believes there remains an essential human quality needed to drive industry-wide transformation towards sustainability and the circular economy. Our motto at Neste is “to create a healthier planet for future generations,” this exemplifies the company’s culture and guides every decision towards this shared vision. “We have only one planet, and we must reverse the trends established in recent decades.”

Valerio’s insights and expertise present a powerful vision of how Neste is leading the way to a greener, more sustainable future for one of the world’s essential industries.


Valerio Coppini:

Andrew Kris:

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