Royal DSM, SABIC, and UPM Biofuels, a leading producer of sustainable raw materials, will collaborate on the production of a more environmentally friendly Dyneema, the strong, tough fibre made by DSM from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.
The partnership gives tangible weight to DSM’s commitment - made in December 2019 - to improve the sustainability footprint of Dyneema and to move towards a circular, bio-based economy.
Sabic will process UPM Biofuels bio-based feedstock UPM BioVerno, derived from the residue of the wood pulping process, into renewable ethylene. By applying a mass balance approach, DSM is then able to create bio-based Dyneema fibre that in identical to its conventional counterpart at the molecular level.
The mass balance approach, according to the ‘Mass Balance White Paper’ published last year by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is as a ‘well-known approach that has been designed to trace the flow of materials through a complex value chain’.
Mass balance accounting provides a set of rules for allocating the bio-based and/or recycled content to different products, enabling these to be able to claim and market the content as ‘bio’-based or ‘recycled’-based. However, it is not possible to physically track where a recycled feedstock ends up, as ‘once a material or chemical is recycled into simpler building blocks, it cannot be distinguished from identical building blocks of other origins, making the traceability of recycled feedstock a key challenge’.
A key component of the mass balance approach is therefore third-party certification, as a means to support trust that the ‘feedstock origin does not violate social and environmental criteria’. Sabic’s partnership with UPM Biofuels, established with the goal of producing certified circular polymers, was announced just a few weeks ago. UPM BioVerno is a 100% renewable naphtha that has been granted ISCC PLUS certification. The new, biobased Dyneema material will therefore also be carrying the globally recognized ISCC Plus certification and will not require re-qualification of downstream products.
Bio-based Dyneema will be available from April 2020.