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Sekisui and Sumitomo Chemical form alliance focused on waste-to-polyolefins production

| By Mary Bailey

Sekisui Chemical Co. (Osaka, Japan; and Sumitomo Chemical Corp. (Tokyo, Japan;  have agreed to form a strategic alliance to deploy technology for manufacturing polyolefins using waste as a raw material. This alliance combines Sekisui’s production technology for transforming waste into ethanol with Sumitomo Chemical’s technological know-how in manufacturing polyolefins, thereby promoting circular economy initiatives to chemically recycle waste into polyolefin materials. Pilot production will begin in fiscal 2022, with Sekisui Chemical turning waste into ethanol, and Sumitomo Chemical using this ethanol as raw material for polyolefin. A full-scale market launch of this production method is expected in fiscal 2025.

In December 2017, Sekisui Chemical, in cooperation with LanzaTech Inc., succeeded in developing a new production technology. This technology enables gasification of combustible waste accumulated at waste disposal facilities into carbon monoxide and hydrogen without the need for waste separation, and converts these gases into ethanol using a microbial catalyst, which obviates the need for heat or pressure. Meanwhile, Sumitomo Chemical has developed and accumulated, over many years in petrochemical field, proprietary technology and know-how, and is now developing technology to manufacture polyolefins from ethylene using waste-derived ethanol as a raw material. This alliance will make it possible to introduce this waste-derived ethanol into the production cycle of organic chemical materials, such as daily-use plastics, and will enable the creation of a circular economy that uses waste as a raw material to manufacture polyolefin. This will help us reduce the use of new fossil fuels, CO2 emissions from incinerating waste, and plastic waste, thereby contributing to a sustainable society.