Accelerating Efforts in the Green Chemical Business
A shift is taking place to plant-based plastics from conventional petroleum-based plastics. Bioplastics have attracted considerable attention in recent years as a new material that can help alleviate global warming by reducing fossil fuel consumption. The Sojitz Group was quick to focus on and is taking various initiatives in the green chemical business, which encompasses plant-derived chemical products and plastic raw materials.
In July 2012, Sojitz Pla-Net Corporation acquired the exclusive sales rights for green polyethylene, a bioplastic resin made by Braskem, the largest chemical manufacturer in South America. Sojitz Pla-Net has begun sales of the product in the Asia-Pacific region in addition to Japan.
Derived from sugar cane, green polyethylene can be considered carbon neutral because the sugar cane absorbs CO2 when it is growing, and thus there are no net CO2 emissions when it is burned as waste. As a result, green polyethylene can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 70% compared with conventional petroleum-based polyethylene even when emissions from manufacturing and transportation are taken into account. Another advantage is that the blackstrap molasses remaining after the sugar is extracted from the sugar cane syrup is the actual raw material used, so the problem of competition with food resources does not arise.
Sojitz has entered into a strategic alliance with U.S.-based Myriant Corporation, which holds many biochemicalmanufacturing patents, to manufacture and sell bio-succinic acid, an intermediate material that plays a key role in converting various conventional resins into biobased products. We are currently mass-producing and developing applications for bio-succinic acid in Asia (Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan).
In addition, Sojitz Pla-Net has formed a tie-up with Synbra Holding bv of the Netherlands to market Synbra’s plant-derived heat-resistant bioresin Synterra® in Asia.
An Employee’s View
Green chemicals are still a minor market, and the level of social recognition is low. However, we are undertaking projects with processors, end users, related government ministries and agencies, and industry organizations that share a common goal: To determine how to widen the market for green chemicals and create a society in which sustainability is a given. Creating new markets and new social paradigms is the job of a general trading company. Promoting green chemical projects is therefore the very essence of our work, and we take pride and pleasure in doing it.
Dept. No. 1
Sojitz Pla-Net Corporation