Braskem breaks the mould and makes plastic from sugar cane

When Braskem started producing polyethylene from sugar cane ethanol in 2010, at the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex, it was the first time a commercial-scale plastic plant using 100% renewable raw materials had ever been built. The sustainable plastic called I’m green™ delivers an innovative and sustainable packaging solution to the market.

A sustainability leader of the petrochemical industry and a world leading biopolymer producer, Brazil-basd Braskem invested $195 million in the pioneering plant to make green plastics out of ethanol, a renewable fuel produced from sugarcane. In fact it is Brazil´s number-one private-sector investor in research and development in 2015, a position built upon investments in research aiming at the development of new technologies to enable the production of sustainable products.

Reinforcing its commitment to sustainable development and research, Braskem contracted an exclusive study, in partnership with its suppliers, to assess the environmental impact of the green polyethylene - I’m green™. The results of the LCA study indicate that Braskem’s biopolymer made ​​from ethanol captures 2.15 ton of CO2 for every ton of green plastic produced.

So with the Triunfo plant alone, Braskem has been able to produce 200,000 tons of green polyethylene - the world’s most used plastic - per year, while avoiding 500,000 tonnes of CO2 on an annual basis.

“This analysis allows Braskem and its customers to understand the potential environmental impacts throughout all stages of the product’s life cycle” says Alexandre Elias, Responsible for Renewable Chemical Businesses.

And it’s not just about greening the planet. At the conclusion of its first year of operations, the final product also proved to be extremely competitive on the market; so much so that demand ended up being three times greater than the plant’s capacity. [1]

By creatively exploiting Brazil’s wide availability of renewable sugarcane crops to make sustainable plastic, Braskem is already successfully leading the petrochemical sector towards a greener future. Ahead of many of its competitors, the company has pioneered a Code of Conduct for its Ethanol Suppliers, addressing good environmental practices in sugarcane cultivation and monitoring performance through biennial third-party audits. It is no surprise then, that already in 2013, 98% of the ethanol volume purchased by Braskem came from responsible suppliers. [2]


Latin America
US$23 B