Life Cycle Assessment of Green Polyethylene
One of the greatest challenges faced by our society is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that we do not have climactic changes leading to disastrous consequences. Meeting the targets set in the Paris Agreement of 2015 requires a transition into a low carbon economy based on renewable energy and new economic and business models, but also new material solutions to reduce even further our society's carbon footprint. Therefore, a life cycle perspective is necessary so that possible trade-offs between a lower climate change impact and other impact categories are accounted for and managed.
Braskem, driven by its purpose to develop sustainable solutions that make people's lives better, has developed the I'm green™ PE, a material with a negative carbon footprint which has a huge potential contribution for a low carbon economy. The idea of producing a bio-based Polyethylene from sugarcane ethanol was developed, from the very beginning, based on a preliminary Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with project data which showed that the Green PE would be a more sustainable alternative. In 2012 another study updated the LCA numbers to better reflect real plant operation data.
In 2013 a major update of the Ecoinvent database, which was used to assess background processes, suggested that another update was needed. Braskem started the update process in 2015 including these database changes and several optimizations in the Green Ethylene production facility. In addition, during 2016 Braskem collected new data from their ethanol suppliers.
This update has been divided in two steps so that we could also isolate the effects of the Code of Conduct for ethanol suppliers in the overall sustainability of the I'm green™ PE. This summary report shows these up-dated results.