Reborn plastics – Neste’s decade-long expertise in renewable and circular solutions bring Neste RE to life
To tackle the issues of climate change and the global waste plastic challenge, Neste has used its decade-long expertise in renewable and circular solutions to develop Neste RE, a 100% renewable and recycled raw material for plastics and chemicals production.
We couldn’t imagine the modern world without plastics: Plastics have revolutionized various industries and provided, for example, the healthcare sector with life-saving devices. But as we often hear about the impending results of climate change and talk about the global waste plastic challenge, we can’t help but hope for a solution. Today, a single U.S. citizen produces 105kg of plastic waste in a year (source: The Guardian).
One of the problems is the short lifespan of plastics products, yet many carelessly discarded single-use plastic products can persist in nature for hundreds of years. In 2018, over 29 million tons of post-consumer plastic waste was collected, and of this, only 9.4 million tons was directed to recycling (source: Plastics Europe) — even less eventually recycled.
Another problem lies in the feedstock commonly used. Plastic is conventionally made from finite virgin fossil-based materials, the emissions from which worsen the effects of climate change. The share of global oil production used to produce plastics, currently at 6%, may reach 20% by 2050 (source: New Plastics Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
“We need to take drastic action to achieve change, and one way of doing that is to develop chemical innovations. Both bio-based feedstock as well as reusing our waste need to be harnessed to improve sustainability and close the circle of material flows,” says Lars Börger, Vice President of Renewable Polymers & Chemicals at Neste.
Neste’s product Neste RE revolutionizes plastics because it is both renewable and recycled: The product’s renewable components can be produced from waste and residue oils and fats and sustainably-produced vegetable oils. The recycled component is produced from chemically-recycled plastic waste that is currently difficult or impossible to recycle mechanically.
Neste RE for forerunners
Neste RE reduces the need to use virgin fossil resources and is suitable for a variety of applications, such as toys, sports gear, and high-performing medical equipment. It is a product that can play a big role in companies looking to contribute to a circular economy. Take, for instance, the production of a plastic toy: Neste RE is safe to use, equal in quality to conventional plastics and a drop-in replacement compatible with the existing production infrastructure.
In 2019, Neste’s products enabled customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9.6 million tons, equaling the annual carbon footprint of 1.5 million average EU citizens. Similarly to Neste’s solutions for road transport and aviation, Neste RE enables Neste’s customers and partners to reduce their fossil oil dependency and develop reduced carbon footprint products and portfolios.
Neste RE is available to sustainably-oriented brands wishing to add bio-based and recycled content into their offering. And, Neste’s collaborations with forerunner brands have already shown success: In 2019, Neste collaborated with LyondellBasell to produce the world’s first commercial-scale volumes of renewable, bio-based polypropylene.
And in March 2020, Neste announced its collaboration with Borealis to produce renewable polypropylene with renewable propane for the first time in history. Together with Recycling Technologies and Unilever, Neste combines expertise to test and validate systems to chemically recycle waste plastics. The list goes on.
“Neste RE helps the polymers and chemicals industries to reduce their crude oil dependency. We are constantly looking for like-minded partners who are ready to take the leap for a more sustainable future,” says Börger.