The New Plastics Economy is uniting key stakeholders – including citizens, NGOs, academia, governments, philanthropists, municipalities, and companies – behind one common vision: to eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastics; to innovate in order to create the plastics that society does need, and ensuring that these are reusable, recyclable or compostable; and to circulate plastics, thereby keeping them in the economy, and out of natural environments.
Having been a participant in the initiative since 2016 and the first major polyolefins producer to have signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, Borealis is now the first polyolefins producer to become a Core Partner. It joins illustrious brands such as The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, and Unilever.
Three main pillars
According to the company, Borealis has in place a comprehensive circular economy strategy based on three main pillars:
- Borealis is making its core business circular through the gradual shift from a model based on the extraction of fossil resources, towards one based on the circulation of materials. This entails making recycling and renewable feedstock part of the core Borealis business. With two plastics recycling operations in Germany and Austria, Borealis aims to have increased the volume of its recycled plastic solutions to 350,000 tons per year by 2025. This is an especially significant increase when compared to the baseline of nearly zero tons prior to the Borealis acquisition of mtm plastics in July of 2016.
- Borealis supports its customers through circular economy innovation by leveraging its expertise in the development and implementation of novel polyolefins-based solutions for plastics reuse and recycling, and by designing for recyclability (DfR). This broad scope of activity is housed under the symbolic roof of EverMinds, the Borealis platform dedicated to promoting a more circular mind-set in the industry. Recent application innovations include reusable drinking cups and recyclable alternatives for complex multi-material flexible packaging forms. Activities include the launch of the Circular Economy Innovation Studio in June 2019, the publication of a set of packaging guidelines, the “EverMinds 10 Codes of Conduct for Design for Recyclability.” Borealis has also entered into several important partnerships that are currently developing circular products, business models, and technologies. For example, Borealis has teamed up with OMV in the ReOil project to advance the chemical recycling of post-consumer plastics.
- Borealis is helping establish circular infrastructure in Southeast Asia by way of Project STOP, or “Stop Ocean Plastics.” As a founding and strategic partner together with SYSTEMIQ, Borealis and the partners in project STOP have earmarked nearly EUR 14 million for investment to the year 2025 for the design, implementation, and scaling-up of circular economy solutions that address the issue of marine plastic pollution at one important source: Southeast Asia, where the rates of ocean plastic leakage are the highest in the world. The first city partnership in Muncar, Indonesia, which began in 2017, is already making a significant contribution to waste management in the community. Two new city partnerships will be started in 2020.
“To address plastic waste at source, we need to fundamentally rethink the way we produce, use and reuse plastics. It is great to see Borealis, as a major plastic producer, step forward to help accelerate that transition,” says Sander Defruyt, who leads the New Plastics Economy initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “In addition to developing innovative solutions and investing in infrastructure in emerging markets, Borealis is leading the way by transitioning its own business model, gradually decoupling from virgin fossil-based production by integrating more and more recycled and renewable plastics in their products. We hope to see many other plastic producers follow their lead.”
Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins & Innovation & Technology, is pleased that Borealis has deepened its commitment to the circular economy. “We are proud and honoured to have been invited to join the other Core Partners of the News Plastics Economy initiative in accelerating the transition to a circular economy for plastics,” she states. “Borealis has made firm commitments to significantly increase the volume and range of our circular plastic solutions. We are equally committed to working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to achieve this essential transformation to a new and circular future of plastics.”