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Wood-based bio-plastics: UPM starts construction of a unique biorefinery in Leuna

Together with Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Dr Reiner Haseloff, UPM Executive Vice President Technology Jyrki Ovaska and InfraLeuna Managing Director Dr Christof Günther, UPM broke ground for the construction of a biorefinery that is unique in the world.

From 2022, biochemicals are to be produced in Leuna from sustainably produced hardwoods. These will enable both the consumption of fossil raw materials and CO2 emissions to be significantly reduced for a wide range of applications, including textiles, plastics, rubber, cosmetics and medicines. The biorefinery has already been named The Bio Act of the Year 2020 by the World BioEconomy Forum. UPM is taking the next step in developing its business from a pure pulp and paper producer to a provider of bio-economy solutions based on sustainably produced wood from regional forests.
Saxony-Anhalt's Prime Minister Dr Reiner Haseloff praises the sustainable commitment of the Leuna site: "Saxony-Anhalt is increasingly developing into a state of future technologies. The investment is making a significant contribution to this. The construction of the biorefinery is a key investment for Leuna and Saxony-Anhalt. I thank the company for choosing Saxony-Anhalt. Leuna, with its well-developed infrastructure, offers an attractive environment that could hardly be better". UPM is investing a total of 550 million euros in the construction. The mill will have an annual production capacity of 220,000 tonnes.
This investment is a significant innovation step, especially for UPM itself, as UPM Executive Vice President Technology Jyrki Ovaska emphasises: "Our central ambition is to create innovations for a future without fossil fuels. The investment in the biorefinery therefore marks a milestone in our corporate transformation, which is far from over. But it is also a milestone for our innovation work. The technologies have been developed by UPM - partly together with partners - and will now be brought to industrial maturity in Leuna. It is important for Ovaska to emphasise that the change from fossil to sustainable raw materials is only one step on the way to a responsible recycling economy: "Especially in the field of plastics, it must continue to be a matter of avoiding unnecessary packaging and ensuring that the valuable materials end up in the recycling cycle and not in the environment." Ovaska says: "We have to make sure that the materials we use are not wasted.
Many efforts on the way to a complete recycling economy start with the reuse and recycling of materials. For example, wood from sustainably managed forests is processed into biochemicals, which can then be used as raw materials for the production of responsible plastics. "For the production of the raw materials, we use certified beech industrial wood from the forestry management of the region and can even use parts of the tree that cannot otherwise be recycled, as well as residual materials from sawmills. In this way we promote sustainable forest management and give forest owners an economic perspective for the conversion of coniferous forests into more climate-stable mixed forests," says Dr Michael Duetsch, Vice President, UPM Biochemicals Business. "In the biorefinery, the wood is then further processed into biochemicals that can be used to make, for example, clothing, car tyres, furniture and PET bottles, and which fit perfectly into all existing reuse and recycling systems. This is a big step towards moving from fossil to renewable resources".
InfraLeuna, operator of the infrastructure facilities at the Leuna chemical site, is itself investing more than 100 million euros in the infrastructure for supplying the biorefinery. Minister President Dr. Reiner Haseloff is also pleased with the development of the region: "The state of Saxony-Anhalt has kept its promise to support the Central German mining district with future technologies.
The State of Saxony-Anhalt is actively supporting UPM's investment project, among other things by providing funding totalling almost €20 million. Minister of Economics Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann presented the notice of award today at the ground-breaking ceremony. "The UPM project is fully in line with the further development of the Leuna chemical site which we are pushing ahead with. By locating the biorefinery, we are expanding the biotechnology competence cluster and opening up new future prospects for the site. Through clever business development, we are setting the course to develop Saxony-Anhalt into a state of future technologies," says Prof. Dr. Willingmann.
www.upm.com

 

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