How Braskem partnered Joules and Duo to develop a fully circular packaging solution

Working in partnership with packaging specialist Duo, UK clothing company Joules embarked upon a journey to explore how post-consumer plastic material could be used to create new packaging products. With Covid-19 giving rise to many more customers ordering online and picking up in-store, the challenge was to develop an ecommerce mailing bag with a transparent plastic side made from post-consumer resin (PCR) raw materials that would easily allow staff to identify the right package and customers to see the product, thereby reducing the overall number of contact points.

A three-way partnership

Joules and Duo approached Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem to develop a dedicated packaging solution to meet this challenge. By combining Braskem/Duo PCR resin and Braskem’s I’m green™ bio-based polyethylene (PE), the materials have a significantly reduced carbon footprint while meeting the quality standards required by Joules.

Not only is the final product completely free from petrochemical virgin resin, but Duo also developed a proof of concept for a closed-loop collection and recycling of Joules’ end-of-life polythene, which in the past would have been seen as waste. It is, therefore, one of the most circular and sustainable products on the market: a renewable/recyclable bag based on a closed-loop system delivering significantly reduced emissions. The bag reduces Joules’ dependency on virgin plastics and avoids valuable polythene material going to landfill, keeping it in the economy to create new packaging.

Circular innovation

Working with Duo, Joules is now segregating the used polythene generated as part of its business processes. This used material is then collected by Duo and recycled to create recycled pellets for new packaging products. This strategy is important as the demand for recycled material increases due to the introduction of the EU and UK plastic taxes. Joules and Duo have taken a proactive step to future-proof the availability of recycled material and create a truly circular innovation. 

On Braskem’s part, the Life Cycle Assessment is used to monitor the environmental impacts of its products and businesses across the entire value chain. In the case of Braskem’s I’m green™ products, this analysis quantifies that its bio-based PE, which is made from sugarcane, captures up to 3.09 kg of CO2 per ton produced.

This negative carbon footprint reflects the sugarcane and ethanol industry in Brazil, where sugarcane plantations are contributing to the regeneration of degraded pastureland and supporting soil recovery. In addition, sugarcane bagasse, a residue from the milling process, is used to co-generate energy that supplies ethanol production units, making the process energy self-sufficient.

The goal was to find a circular solution that delivers high performance, with the lowest environmental impact while eliminating the use of fossil feedstock. I’m proud that we contributed to this initiative, because it proves that tackling climate change and developing the circular economy go hand-in-hand.

Marco Jansen – Director of Circular Economy & Sustainability at Braskem Europe