Braskem highlights milestones in sugarcane-based resins production in Brazil, including certification by Bonsucro, a global standard for sugarcane supply chains; certification applies to company's 'Im green' biobased portfolio of polymers

Sample article from our Bioeconomy

June 7, 2022 (press release) –

Production of plastic from sugarcane in Brazil reached 11 years in September 2021 and has helped mitigate climate change and minimize environmental impacts in diverse sectors of the economy. This has been exemplified by the thousands of products sold in Brazil and around the world that already use renewable plastic.  In yet another important step in this journey, Braskem, the market leader and global pioneer in producing biopolymers on an industrial scale, now supplies renewable resins produced using ethanol from Raízen, an integrated energy company, a global reference in bioenergy and one of the country's biggest sugarcane producers, certified by Bonsucro - a global standard for the sugarcane production and supply chain.  A pioneer in the development of technology for producing plastic from the renewable commodity, Braskem is the only Brazilian company in the segment to receive this recognition.

Bonsucro is the global sustainability platform for sugarcane, created in 2005 to collectively accelerate the sustainable production and use of sugarcane among farmers, mills, buyers, and end users. It mobilizes its members and other partners to address the critical challenges facing the sugar and ethanol sector, drive performance, and create a positive impact. Through its certification system for sustainability standards for sugarcane, Bonsucro attests that the production and processing of sugarcane are conducted in a socially and environmentally responsible manner based on rigorous international sustainability criteria.

Certification of sugarcane planting, cultivation, and processing

Besides assuring sustainable practices linked to optimum land use, protection of biodiversity, and responsible water management, Bonsucro also verifies issues such as occupational safety, working conditions, and impacts on communities adjacent to sugarcane fields and mills.  Raízen is Braskem's partner in supplying ethanol produced from sugarcane and holds the world's largest volume of sugarcane certified by Bonsucro.  "With this international certification, Brazil has become a global benchmark in the production of sugarcane and its derivatives, home to about 52% of the mills with this seal in the world and with diverse success stories that combine high productivity with the best management and sustainability practices in operations," says André Valente, Sustainability manager at Raízen.

According to Valente, in business terms, "having the Bonsucro certificate signifies shared value generation, product differentiation, guarantee of sustainable origin, access to markets, and clients with strict social and environmental requirements, consolidation of sustainability best practices, building conscientious relationships and a better image for the company." Today, Raízen has the largest volume of sugarcane certified by Bonsucro in the world and 24 of the 31 bioenergy parks in operation are already certified.  The company's goal is to certify the other seven units acquired after its merger with Biosev and get all the units certified by 2030. This certification strategy also covers the production of second-generation ethanol (E2G) produced from sugarcane bagasse.

More sustainable plastic for Brazilian industry

Before certifying Braskem, Bonsucro evaluated its processes involving traceability from feedstock to its certified finished products and the upstream supply chain, considering the good practices implemented in sugarcane planting, cultivating, and processing. "This certification recognizes our efforts in the pursuit of an environmentally responsible operation, adding further value to our I'm green TM  bio-based portfolio, which provides solutions in polyethylene and EVA produced from sugarcane. Apart from our widely recognized I'm green TM brand, brand owners who use our renewable resins can become members and seek the Bonsucro certification to use the seal in their products.  For this, both the manufacturer and brand owner must join the Bonsucro platform and submit their processes to an audit by a third-party certification body," explains Marco Jansen, global biopolymers leader at Braskem.

At Braskem, the Bonsucro certification reaffirms the company's commitment to the circular economy and to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 . "We are dedicated to help transform the linear economic thought into a circular model, covering every stage of the value chain.  From the selection of raw materials to the return of post-consumer waste - after recycling - to the production chain, we constantly seek to improve our biopolymers to make these solutions more valuable and competitive.  Being the first producer of bioplastics that meets Bonsucro's requirements is an important recognition in our journey and a clear sign that we are on the right path," says Jansen.

Sustainable solutions to meet the needs of the population

Braskem's I'm green TM bio-based plastic is already used in diverse segments such as food, beverages, personal hygiene products, and consumer durables, among others.  The success of this solution in the market is directly related to the growth in demand from large brand owners committed to using renewable and/or recycled raw materials and to the circular economy, in addition to booming demand for biopolymers.

Braskem's production of I'm green TM bio-based polyethylene was recognized by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and by Global Compact Network Brazil as one of the most transformative cases in sustainable development in Brazil . One of the key differentials of the product is it can capture up to 3.09 tons of CO2 for each ton of renewable PE produced.  The material retains the same properties, performance, and versatility delivered by fossil-based plastics and can be used in existing production and recycling chains.

Braskem's first client to obtain the Bonsucro certificate was Tetra Pak. In 2019, the company - the world leader in food processing and packaging solutions - became the first in the food and beverage industry to supply plant-based polymers using Bonsucro's standards for sustainable sugarcane.

"Our plant-based renewable polymers are fully traceable since their origin in sugarcane.  Our ambition is clear: we want all our packaging to be produced from renewable or recycled polymers.  This is a milestone in our journey towards the world's most sustainable packaging:  a box made from renewable, fully recyclable and carbon neutral materials," said Julian Fox, director of Nature Programs at Tetra Pak.

At Braskem, the Bonsucro certificate was awarded to the industrial complex in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul, where polyethylene and EVA I'm green TM bio-based are produced (Q 2, PE 4, PE 5 and PE 6 ), and to the storage facilities responsible for distributing the solutions in Brazil and other countries.  

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Jason Irving
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