Biofore Magazine 2020
The new era of BIOCHEMICALS
Wood-based biochemicals are renewable, recyclable, can shorten supply chains and boost local production. And they can be used to make almost anything.
T he future of wood is here. Soon all kinds of prod- ucts – from bottles to de-icer to tyres – will be made from wood-based biochemicals, ushering in a new era of sustainability. It’s not a new idea. For years, if not decades, there has been discussion about how wood-based products could replace thingsmade fromfossilmaterials. Until now, this idea wasmostly hypothetical. Now it is really happening. “I am very excited,” says Juuso Konttinen , Vice President, Biochemicals at UPM. “We have worked for many years to evaluate and develop different technol- ogies for wood-based biochemicals, and it is absolutely fantastic that all our hard work is paying off.” In early 2020, UPM announced a new biorefinery to be built at Leuna, Germany. The biorefinery will produce a range of wood-based biochemicals that can replace fossil raw materials. This is not a simple lab to showcase the possibilities of biochemicals; this is a ma- jor plant with a price tag of more than EUR 500 million and with an anticipated annual capacity of 220,000
tonnes. The next phase of sustainable biochemicals has well and truly arrived. Huge sustainability benefits “Look around you. Chemicals are in practically everything you can see: the paint on the wall, the carpet on the floor and the plastic in your mobile phone,” says Michael Duetsch , Vice President, Biochemicals Business atUPM. “Today 80–90%of these chem- icals are fossil-based. If we replace themwith chemicals based on biomass, we will have amore sustainable future.” The advantage of wood-based biochemicals is that they are
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