Nova Chemicals Boosts Sustainability Efforts on Several Fronts and More

Advances in design of recyclable film structures and a major investment in a project reducing ocean plastics pollution discussed.

While attending the recent Global Plastics Summit (GPS2-18), now in its sixth year and hosted by IHS Markit and the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), I had the opportunity to interview John Thayer, sr. v.p. of PE for Nova Chemicals. Sustainability was a major theme running through this year’s event, and Thayer is among the industry representatives who are fervently seeking solutions to promote a plastics circular economy.

In the short time allotted us during this well-attended and fully-packed event, Thayer gave me a rundown on some of the key areas of focus which include:

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● Continued innovation in the design for structures that address needs of customers including, all-PE stand-up pouches, E-commerce packaging, along with increased sustainability. One recent example are prototypes of Advanced Sclairtech (AST) technology high-performance octene LLDPE with 20% recycled content. The company is researching film structures with PCR content in order to assist customers in bringing to commercial fruition this type of sustainable packaging. 

● New capacity with a focus on specialty higher-performance grades is also underway. The company will be starting up a new line using Advanced Sclairtech in Sarnia, Ont., in 2021, with an annual capacity of 950-million lb. It will primarily produce octene LLDPE as well as some HDPE.

Also slated for startup in late 2021 is the new PE plant of Bayport Polymers LLC (Bay-Pol), an equal joint venture of Total SA and the Borealis AG/Nova Chemicals Inc. JV: Novealis Holdings LLC, Bayport, Tex. The nearly 1.4-billion lb/yr plant will more than double the site’s PE production capacity to 2.4 billion lb/yr. Thayer notes that the new unit will be equipped with Borealis’ proprietary HDPE process technology—which is globally known for its high-performance HDPE for applications such as pipe and wire & cable, making it the first such unit to produce Borstar PE in North America.

● Preventing plastic debris from reaching the ocean is another area where Nova Chemicals has taken action. In late August, the company announced a three-year investment of nearly $2 million in Project STOP (Stop Ocean Plastics), a new global initiative to design and implement solutions to reduce marine plastic pollution especially in countries with high leakage of plastics into our oceans.

Southeast Asia has been identified as a major source of marine plastic debris as economic development and plastics consumption have outpaced the expansion of waste management systems in the region. Project STOP has chosen Indonesia as a primary focus region.

Nova’s investment will support the first city partnership in Muncar, a coastal fishing community located in Banyuwangi, Indonesia. With minimal waste services in place, many citizens are forced to dump their waste directly into the environment. Muncar was chosen as the first STOP location due to the seriousness of the challenge, coupled with strong leadership and environmental commitment at national, regency and local levels.

Project STOP was co-created in 2017 by Borealis—a sister company of Nova Chemicals, and SYSTEMIQ—a firm that co-creates, incubates and invests in innovative solutions for sustainable land-use, material and energy systems. Project STOP is focused on three objectives:

Zero leakage of waste into the environment by ensuring waste collection services are available to all households and businesses, through increasing pick-up points, sorting facilities and staff.

Increased recycling of plastics by strengthening the supply chain from waste collection to waste management companies.

Benefits for the local community by creating new jobs in the waste management system and reducing the impacts of waste.

Thayer also gave an update on Project STOP, whereby Borealis and SYSTEMIQ, together with their partners from the Government of Norway, Nova Chemicals, Borouge and Veolia have announced a  commitment to expand the project. It includes initiating at least two additional city partnerships in the country and raising $10 to $15 million for technical assistance, community engagement, improved infrastructure, and other packaging recovery solutions.

This commitment builds upon the progress of the first Project STOP city partnership in Muncar, East, Java, Indonesia. It will prevent more than 22 million lb of plastic from leaking to the ocean over the next five years, grow local employment and provide replicable solutions and innovations for other cities.