Decarbonisation Technology - November 2023 Issue

Circular economy strategies for petrochemical sustainability Sustainability is a journey for the industry, not a destination, and the circular economy is one of the tools to make that journey possible

Vahide Nuran Mutlu SOCAR Türkiye Research & Development and Innovation Inc

I n an era where environmental concerns are at the forefront of global discourse, industries are being challenged to rethink their practices and adopt more sustainable approaches. The petrochemical industry, a crucial player in global economic growth, is under particular scrutiny due to its significant environmental impact. As we strive for a more sustainable future, the concept of a circular economy has emerged as a promising solution. This article delves into the world of petrochemicals, unpacks the circular economy framework, and explores how circular economy strategies can revolutionise petrochemical sustainability. “ The petrochemical industry’s linear product life-cycle model, Petrochemicals, derived from fossil fuels, play an indispensable role in modern society. They are the building blocks of countless products, from plastics and packaging materials to pharmaceuticals and textiles. However, the petrochemical industry’s linear product life-cycle model, characterised by extraction, production, consumption, and disposal, is riddled with environmental consequences. The greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, and plastic waste crisis associated with this linear approach have prompted a re-evaluation of the industry’s practices. To understand the urgency of adopting characterised by extraction, production, consumption, and disposal, is riddled with environmental consequences ”

circular economy strategies in the petrochemical industry, it is crucial to dissect the emission landscape. This sub-sector’s emissions span a wide range of products, from fertilisers to synthetic fibres, with plastics at the forefront. Additionally, emissions arising from oil refining, which is intricately linked to the petrochemical process, must be considered. Oil refining serves as the precursor to various petrochemical processes and contributes significantly to emissions. When both the emissions from oil refining and chemical plants are combined, their cumulative impact is staggering. This combined category accounts for approximately 30% of total industrial emissions, a substantial share. To put it in a global perspective, these emissions amount to more than 9% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, showcasing the magnitude of the challenge at hand. Unveiling the circular economy The traditional linear product life-cycle model in the chemical and petrochemical industry has undeniably led to environmental degradation, resource depletion, and a plastic waste crisis. This model is no longer tenable, especially when the emissions associated with this industry are both significant and avoidable. Enter the circular economy, a framework that seeks to disrupt the linear status quo and bring about sustainable transformation. The circular economy presents an alternative paradigm. At its core, this concept envisions a system where resources are used, reused, and regenerated in a closed loop, minimising waste and environmental impact. Instead of


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