Accelerating decarbonisation through innovation, investment

By Energy Connects

Oct 04, 2023

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Thomas Gangl, CEO, Borealis

As an enthusiastic ADIPEC participant and panel member for several years, I was gratified to see that this year’s focus is “Decarbonising. Faster. Together.” Like our partners and customers in the industry, we at Borealis are acutely aware of the importance of accelerating the speed of decarbonisation. As an industry, we are at a key juncture in the shift to net zero. Meaningful progress has been made, but we need to pick up the pace of innovation, collaboration, and investment in clean energy and more sustainable products if we are to combat climate change.

Our purpose – which is shared by the entire OMV Group – is “re-inventing essentials for more sustainable living.” Borealis is spearheading transformation by putting sustainability at the core of all our endeavors, and by investing accordingly. We create value through innovation, driving decarbonisation by providing circular polyolefin-based material solutions. Abiding by the principles of a circular economy allows us to preserve existing resources, reduce primary material consumption, and lower emissions. The most efficient way to make plastics more sustainable is to keep them in the loop.

We use continuous innovation to drive transformation at all points on this loop, starting with the base chemicals in our Borvida portfolio, produced using non-food waste biomass and chemically-recycled waste. Our customers can switch from conventional to more circular base chemicals without having to compromise on application quality or safety. Further along the loop is the Bornewables family of premium circular polyolefins based on renewably sourced feedstock. As substitute grades for virgin polyolefins, they obtain a lower carbon footprint for the end application – which itself is fully recyclable. We’ve also developed a new class of engineering polymer made of renewably sourced feedstock, Stelora™, which is especially suited for sophisticated applications in e-mobility and renewable energy generation.

Borealis also continues to invest in recycling. We developed the transformative Borcycle technology for advanced mechanical and chemical recycling processes to breathe new life into polyolefin-based, post-consumer waste. As one of the first virgin producers in Europe to acquire mechanical recycling operations, we now operate three mechanical recycling plants. These capital investments are augmented by our acquisition of a majority stake in Renasci, and more recently by our agreement to acquire Rialti S.p.A., a leading European producer of mechanically recycled polypropylene compounds.

Achieving greater sustainability means lowering emissions. We are on track to cut our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by over half to 2 million tons/year by 2030. By the same year, 100% of the electricity we use in our Polyolefins and Base Chemicals business areas in Europe will be sourced from renewables, thanks to multiple long-term power purchase agreements for the supply of wind energy and hydropower.

Step-change innovations launched by Borealis are accelerating decarbonisation efforts. Our Borlink high voltage direct current technology for power cables is being used in massive infrastructure projects like the German Corridors to ensure that renewable power can be transported from remote locations with minimal energy loss. In the mobility sector, we’ve developed materials that can be used to make lighter-weight parts with the same excellent performance properties as virgin polyolefins, thus lowering vehicular CO2 emissions and the overall carbon footprint.

Our technological innovations play a key role in advancing circularity by giving plastics multiple lives, using resources more wisely, and lowering emissions. But we’ve reached a tipping point. A recent World Energy Pulse survey highlights growing industry concern that the pace and progress of the energy transition is faltering. Now more than ever, we need globally coordinated downstream efforts to incentivise the enormous investments necessary to complete the transformation, from expanding clean electricity infrastructure, to implementing waste recovery and recycling capacities.

Climate change is a worldwide phenomenon which demands local and concerted action across the entire global value chain. Yet the industry cannot do it alone. We need the support of policymakers and legislators in encouraging the types of investment and innovation that drive decarbonisation, not hinder it. One example of the kind of action the world needs is the UNFCCC treaty. This legally binding agreement is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle plastic pollution in a globally coordinated way, and a clear call for system change towards a circular economy for plastics. We are also proud to have joined the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the WWF, which is a crucial policy mechanism to accelerate decarbonisation – and there is no time to waste!


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