Global polyolefins leader LyondellBasell Industries and oil refiner Neste Corp. have made commercial-scale quantities of bio-based polypropylene and low density polyethylene.
In a June 18 news release, officials with both firms said it's the first time both of those materials were made simultaneously. The joint project used Neste's renewable hydrocarbons, which are derived from sustainable bio-based raw materials, such as waste and residue oils. The project successfully produced "several thousand tons" of bio-based plastics, officials said.
The materials are approved for food packaging and are being marketed under the Circulen and Circulen Plus trade names, which are a new family of LyondellBasell circular economy product brands.
LyondellBasell "has an innovative spirit that spans decades, and an achievement like this showcases concrete actions we are taking in support of a circular economy," Richard Roudeix said in the release. Roudeix serves as senior vice president of olefins and polyolefins for Europe, Asia and international for LyondellBasell, which is based in Houston and London.
"Through the use of renewable resources, we are contributing to the fight against climate change and helping our customers achieve their environmental targets," he added.
Peter Vanacker, CEO of Espoo, Finland-based Neste, said that his firm "is excited to enable the plastics industry to introduce more bio-based material into its offering."
"It's very satisfying to see Neste's renewable hydrocarbons performing perfectly in a commercial scale production of bio-based polymers, providing a drop-in replacement option to fossil materials," he added.
The materials were produced at a LyondellBasell plant in Wesseling, Germany. Officials said that an independent third party confirmed that the materials contained more than 30 percent renewable content.
LyondellBasell sold some of the renewable products made in the trial to multiple customers, including British films supplier Cofresco. Officials said that Cofresco plans to use Circulen Plus bio-based PE to create sustainable food packaging materials.
In 2018, LyondellBasell posted sales of just over $39 billion. The firm made Fortune magazine's list of the world's most admired companies in 2019.
Neste posted sales of €14.9 billion ($16.7 billion) in 2018. The firm recently placed third on the Global 100 list of the most sustainable companies in the world.