Since the attempts to substitute polymers with alternatives are associated with a much greater carbon footprint, the polymer industry faces the challenge of developing technologies and processes to recycle and reuse polymers.
It is necessary to move towards a circular economy. There is a wealth of opportunities for this outside the realm of processing technologies. For instance, the idea of rethinking packaging to make waste sorting easier holds considerable potential.
Both chemical and thermal processing provide affordable and scalable solutions. However, following this path requires excellent cross-industry collaboration as the breakdown hydrocarbon products from polymers cannot be immediately fed back into the economy. It takes joint participation of all consumers across the oil refining and petrochemical value chains to have the hydrocarbon feedstock containing these breakdown products used in primary and secondary oil refining. Part of these products can be used by petrochemical companies, while others can go elsewhere, for instance, to the motor fuel market.
A company looking to source recycled feedstock will need a massive transformation of its business model and that of partners, as it will have to work with dozens of small recycling businesses across different regions. This would be a completely different risk profile and a significant business problem for all market participants.
SIBUR looks at the environmental aspect of ESG in terms of two components: the environmental impact of its operations and the environmental impact of its products. The Company relies on the best available technologies as way to maintain the water and air balance and ensure the safety of its production facilities for employees and the regions of operation. SIBUR has invested heavily in upgrading its operations by implementing new green technologies. Each new project is scrutinised in terms of new opportunities as well as tightening environmental regulations and greater public expectations. This approach helps SIBUR improve its environmental profile, while also attracting the best available talent often unwilling to join polluting industries. SIBUR also works to minimise its CO2 emissions, looking for ways to use CO2 in production.
Today, businesses and regulators are at the point of waking up to the pivotal role that the environmental agenda will play in the near future. Consumers, in their turn, will have the power to opt for products that carry a smaller carbon footprint.
The ongoing transformation of the business environment driven by environmental concerns, regulatory changes, public perceptions, and possibly certain restrictions will affect each and every company for years to come. The current business models will no longer suffice, and profits generated in disregard of green trends will start to fade away. On the flip side, these changes can open up new opportunities for business development, and those wait to be identified, explored and leveraged.