UPM Biofore Magazine 1-2019
To solve the plastics issue and to bring about a lasting change, all players in the value chain need to work together.
“Our take-off point as a fossil feedstock-driven company was how to bring sustainable biomass into our value chain. One driver, of course, is the circular economy aspect,” says Christian Krueger , Corporate Sustainability Expert for BASF SE. According to Oona Koski, this is especially tricky to address because of the scale of the industry. “You can adopt dedicated processes to use bio-based feedstock, and in some cases, it can be ineffective. On the scale that the chemical industry works today, it’s just not a viable solution. We needed to find drop-in solutions to increase the biomass feedstock as well as recycled feedstock.” Tracking ins and outs Krueger points out that with the Mass Balance Approach, fossil-based chemical value chains can be replaced quickly with sustainable bio-based feedstock using existing plants and value chains. “We realised that we can substitute our main fossil feedstocks, naphtha and natural gas, with bio-based substitutes like renewable naphtha. We use these substitutes in the same way as we use fossil feedstock – they are both fed into production and the amount of bio-feedstock is then attributed to the final product.” The Mass Balance Approach differs from other industry standards because of the chain of custody component. “The concept proves that manufacturers are not just ‘greenwashing’ but are actually
using bio-based materials in their processes. Amanufacturer cannot claim to have more feedstock coming out than there is feedstock going in,” Koski notes. “One way of understanding the Mass Balance Approach is to think in terms of green electricity. Before, you could only produce green electricity if you had a windmill in your backyard. Nowadays, you can buy green electricity with a mouse click because someone who invested in a windmill introduced the electricity into the grid,” Kicherer points out. “We have a clear calculation method to show that we are buying exactly the amount of sustainable biomass that is needed to create our MB products,” Krueger says. “More importantly, mass-balanced products offer the same quality and performance as their fossil-based counterparts.” Building credibility for the approach is especially crucial. “If you use the Mass Balance Approach, it is important that you build and maintain your credibility by getting audited by an independent third party,” Krueger explains. “Always be transparent. While your message has to be easy to understand, it must also be fact- based. When you claim to use sustainable feedstock, provide background information about how you have done it,” he affirms. “My vision is that buying bio- based materials will one day be as easy as buying green electricity,” Kicherer concludes.
From fossil to bio One of the CE 100-related collaboration projects UPMRaflatac has been involved in is the Mass Balance Approach (MB), which could fill a serious gap in the chemical industry: at present, there is no industry-wide certification showing the chain of custody for rawmaterials. “You can trace wood fibre's origins from certifications like the PEFC and the FSC to know if the rawmaterials used are sourced sustainably. There’s currently no universally accepted way to do that within the chemical industry,” she says. UPMRaflatac has been working together with BASF SE and other companies to further develop the Mass Balance Approach and make it better known throughout the industry. To solve the plastics issue and to bring about a lasting change, all players in the value chain need to work together. Sustainability has been an integral part of BASF SE’s operations since it was founded in 1865. “The Verbund concept – which means the integration of production plants, energy, material flows, logistics, and site infrastructure – is definitely at the heart of BASF. It’s a philosophy that dates back 150 years. The basic idea has always been to use the by-product of one process as raw material for another. As a result, the plant generates almost no waste,” explains Andreas Kicherer , Director of Sustainability for BASF SE. BASF has continually developed this principle of using circular raw materials for chemical processes.
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