Sustainable Industry

Braskem invests in the sustainable use of plastic

Braskem launches initiatives for new products designed to recycle and reuse plastic packaging.

As a global-industrial scale biopolymer production leader, Braskem made a public commitment in favor of the circular economy in 2018. The company spearheads initiatives to design new products that can make it easier to recycle and reuse plastic packaging at scale, investing in new resins from renewable sources such as the bio-based I’m green™ polyethylene – made from sugarcane – as well as new technologies, business models and systems to collect, sort, recycle and recover materials.

“Braskem considers sustainable development an inherent goal of its business strategy. With that in mind, we launched a series of initiatives to introduce more sustainable practices in our production processes and value chain,” said Fabiana Quiroga, Head of Circular Economy at Braskem.

These initiatives are aligned with the National Confederation of Industry’s (CNI) strategy towards a low carbon economy in Brazil, with is based on four pillars, one of which is the circular economy.

Targets and products – Due to its versatility, plastic plays a key role in the economy. It is used in virtually every sector, including civil construction, agriculture, footwear, furniture, food, textiles, leisure, telecommunications, electronics, automotive, medical-hospital, and energy distribution, among others. The idea is for plastic to be used responsibly and to be reused, recycled or recovered.

Disposing of plastic waste correctly while making sure they return to the production cycle is one of the most assertive ways to prevent these materials from ending up in inappropriate places like seas or rivers.

Braskem aims to expand its portfolio to include 300,000 tons of products with recycled content by 2025, and one million tons by 2030. By 2030, the company will also work to prevent 1.5 million tons of plastic waste from being incinerated, sent to landfills or laid in the environment.

Braskem is currently offering a line of recycled products under the brand I’m green™ recycled. The list includes 20 grades of post-consumer recycled polyethylene (PE) resin, intended for the production of rigid and flexible packaging, bags and shrink films, among others. It also has 18 grades of post-consumer recycled polypropylene (PP) that can be used to produce furniture, caps and household utensils. These resins have the same characteristics as those made from fossil fuels. In addition, Braskem is developing another 40 grades to add to its global supply portfolio.

Partnerships – Braskem also develops solutions with partners. One of them is flexible packaging for Johnson & Johnson’s Sempre Livre menstrual pads. Produced by the Rio Grande do Sul company Mega Embalagens, it is made with 33% post-consumer I’m green™ recycled resin.

In the furniture segment, Tramontina sells chairs and benches made from post-consumer recycled resins. With regard to household appliances, Braskem has a partnership with Colormaq to develop the semiautomatic washing machine EcoMax, the first appliance produced with post-consumer plastic.

Braskem’s post-consumer recycled resins are made with plastic waste that are adequately discarded and sent on for recycling. These resins come from various places, like landfills, reverse logistics programs, and programs developed with cashback companies where consumers can exchange their waste for points and benefits.

Recycling – Braskem also invests in partnerships to upscale and facilitate plastic recycling and reuse. Its partnership with Tecipar, a Brazilian environmental engineering firm, will prevent more than two thousand tons of plastic waste from being dumped annually in the landfill of Santana do Parnaíba, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. According to the company, the volume is equal to 36 million polythene and polyethylene plastic containers.

Thanks to this agreement, a waste screening plant was built to separate solid from organic waste in the materials collected by the public waste collection service of the municipalities of Barueri and Santana do Parnaíba. After being sorted, the plastic screened by Tecipar goes to one of Braskem’s recycling partners.

Together with Valoren, a firm specializing in developing and operating waste processing technologies, Braskem invested BRL 67 million to build a recycling plant in Indaiatuba, in the state of São Paulo. Inaugurated in 2022, the plant can transform close to 250 million packages into 14 thousand tons of high-quality post-consumer resins per year. These resins can in turn be used as raw materials by the industrial sector.

The recycling plant consists of a modular complex that connects the different steps of the process. Its distinctive features include a high-performance washing line with an optical selector for removing contaminants based on color and type of material, homogenization silos, highly accurate systems for dosing additives and inputs, and a module for eliminating odors and high-performance polymer filtering that improves the quality of the final PCR.

Innovation – Another front of action within the circular economy was the disruptive project agreed with Valoren to build and install an Advanced Recycling unit in Indaiatuba. Using pyrolysis, the plant will chemically transform plastic waste into certified circular raw materials to manufacture new plastic waste. With a joint investment totaling BRL 44 million, the new plant is expected to start operating in the first quarter of 2023 with a production capacity of six thousand tons of circular products per year.

Also in 2022, the Cazoolo Center for the Development of Circular Packaging Solutions will be inaugurated in the west side of São Paulo city. The center will be an innovation hub striving for circularity and the lowest possible environmental impact. Plans include partnerships with customers, brand owners, designers, startups and universities to develop more sustainable packaging with design improvements in all stages of the production process, from design to post-consumption. The project builds on the Design for Environment (DfE) and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) concepts to create innovative and sustainable packaging for the entire plastic packaging supply chain. Its aim is to accelerate progress towards circular packaging.

We believe that all these initiatives around conscious consumption and proper disposal of plastic are important steps to encourage reverse logistics soundly, which reflects its importance and boosts the concept of Circular Economy,” said Fabiana Quiroga.

Environmental education – To reinforce its commitment to sustainable development, Braskem supports initiatives and actions to raise environmental awareness. Braskem Recicla is one of these initiatives. The project aims to raise awareness of the importance of recycling and to encourage the community to do so, as well as to show the direct impact it can have on employment and income generation.

During its actions, the population can take recyclable waste to Recycling and Environmental Education Stations, including things like plastic, paper, cardboard, cooking oil, electronics, appliances, metals, and glass.

In 2021 and 2022, Braskem Recicla held eight recycling campaigns: three in Salvador (BA), two in Porto Alegre (RS), one in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and two in São Paulo (SP). The initiative collected more than 73 tons of recyclable materials, generating earnings of BRL 163,000 for the garbage pickers and impacting close to 12 thousand participants.

Another Braskem initiative is Edukatu, Brazil’s first online learning network on conscious consumption and sustainability. The project provides content to encourage learning through infographics, games, animations and lesson plans, together with platform interactions. Content is provided free of charge at https://www.edukatu.org.br/. In 2021, the platform was accessed more than 21 thousand times in the ABC region of São Paulo alone and nearly five thousand people registered.

Plastitroque, in turn, is a program designed to raise awareness of the importance of disposing of recyclable materials adequately. Focusing on plastic, the initiative encourages reuse and recycling through selective garbage collection. Through the project, people exchange recyclable waste for coins that can be accumulated and exchanged for kits. The recyclables collected are distributed to cooperatives. In 2021, the project collected almost eight tons of plastic waste in its 11 campaigns across Brazil, impacting over three thousand people.