Story | 02/05/2021 11:18:43 | 3 min Read time

The world’s strongest fibre goes renewable

Extending the use of UPM BioVerno naphtha as a raw material in new applications such as clothing and sports equipment is an example of the collaboration needed to take us towards a future beyond fossils.

Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE), known under the Dyneema brand as the world’s strongest fibre, is a material used in a variety of applications such as sports equipment, protective clothing, and offshore marine or air cargo netting.

Committed to increasing the share of bio-based raw materials in the production of Dyneema, Royal DSM, a global science-based company in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living, teamed up with UPM Biofuels and global diversified chemicals company, SABIC, to improve the environmental impact of its materials.

Ambitiously towards a future beyond fossils

This first introduction of our renewables portfolio into Dyneema’s segments, is an important step for SABIC. The certified renewable ethylene comes from our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, and is a drop-in solution that can replace fossil-based ethylene. Collaborations of this type with UPM and DSM also help drive transformation towards our vision for a circular, transparent, and sustainable ecosystem for plastics,” says Mark Vester, Circular Economy Leader at SABIC.

Produced from crude tall oil, a residue of the pulp making process, UPM BioVerno naphtha is processed by SABIC to make certified renewable ethylene for DSM’s Dyneema products. The collaboration supports DSM’s previously announced ambitious sustainability target for Dyneema of sourcing at least 60% of its feedstock from bio-based raw materials by 2030.

Great potential in bio-based products

UPM’s partnership with SABIC dates back to 2017, when the chemical company was the first major operator within its industry to introduce renewable naphtha from UPM into the production of polymers. SABIC’s Vester is pleased with the expanding cooperation.

“As a producer of certified renewable solutions, we have recently seen an increase in interest in these more sustainable offerings. Although bio-based polymers have traditionally been used predominantly in the packaging industry, Vester sees growing interest in a broad range of segments, including hygiene and cosmetic products, the automotive and electrical industries, and other durable goods.

“From a business point of view, the most important argument driving companies to switch to bio-based alternatives is how they help to reduce the carbon footprint of the end product. Feedstock such as UPM’s renewable naphtha, originating from sustainably managed forests is not in direct competition with the food chain and lowers our dependence on fossil resources,” Vester says.

All solutions needed for a sustainable future

Considering the role of renewable versus recycled raw materials in the future, Vester points out that the polymer sector in this respect does not currently have a strong regulatory drive for bio-based products, as is the case with, for example, the fuel industry.

“The emphasis is amongst others on regulation related to recycled materials that have been under a lot of scrutiny and attention also because of the pressure placed on brand owners by consumers. Renewables have mainly been driven forward by the voluntary commitments made by companies. However, at SABIC we see both materials as complementary and necessary for advancing the carbon neutral circular economy.”

The TRUCIRCLE™ program is SABIC’s complete portfolio of solutions that span design for recyclability, mechanically recycled products, certified circular products from feedstock recycling of plastic waste streams and certified renewables products from bio-based feedstock.

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