EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
DR MICHAEL DUETSCH , VICE PRESIDENT UPM BIOCHEMICALS
We were all reminded how real the climate crisis has become and the need to accelerate our collective action . It is encouraging to see some established businesses stepping up their net zero and circular economy activity , making it a core strategic priority . Leading brands and manufacturers understand that change has to happen now if they are to remain in business . But we also learn – or are reminded – that we must bring the whole value chains together – isolated actions are admirable , but ineffective .
We also see how important it is to actively help consumers make better choices and support the behaviour change that is urgently needed – by making sustainable solutions comprehensible , easy to action – and affordable .
2023 is a pivotal year for UPM Biochemicals . For more than a decade , UPM has been developing and executing a strategy to establish the world ’ s first industrial scale biorefinery to produce renewable chemicals . The € 750 million investment at Leuna , in the state of Saxony- Anhalt , Germany , is rapidly taking shape , in anticipation of production in 2024 . It will produce innovative , sustainable and competitive wood-based biochemicals that will enable manufacturers to replace fossil-based raw materials used to make multiple everyday items .
This year we began to enter commercial partnerships that will transform the carbon footprint of value chains in different industries . For manufacturers like Dongsung Chemical of South Korea , this presents an opportunity to both advance its net zero commitments and achieve competitive advantage in its global markets , such as sports footwear , where the demand for truly sustainable products accelerates .
We have entered into a strategic partnership to develop eco-friendly products using UPM ’ s Bio-Mono Ethylene Glycol ( MEG ). The Bio-MEG will serve as a base material for various industrial products and consumer goods . As the new biochemicals can be fully integrated into existing production and recycling processes , they enable the transformation of the entire chemical industry towards a renewable circular economy .
In the future beyond fossils , there will be only three sources of carbon – recycled materials , CO2 capture and biomass . Therefore , establishing a circular economy – reuse and recycling , is hugely important and rightly a big focus for manufacturers . But this will not be sufficient – you will always have losses in a circular economy , and we will need to compensate for those losses with sustainable , non-fossil raw materials in order to create a perfect , circular low carbon economy .
Transforming the chemical value chain to become more sustainable can only be achieved through collaboration and partnerships , and this will continue to be our focus in 2023 .
IT WILL PRODUCE INNOVATIVE , SUSTAINABLE AND COMPETITIVE WOOD- BASED BIOCHEMICALS THAT WILL ENABLE MANUFACTURERS TO REPLACE FOSSIL-BASED RAW MATERIALS USED TO MAKE MULTIPLE EVERYDAY ITEMS .
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