Today, the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visited UPM’s state-of-the-art biochemicals facility in Leuna, Germany. During a series of visits to innovative industry champions in Eastern Germany, Steinmeier wants to increase the visibility of positive economic development in the region. Steinmeier chose businesses that enable the industry’s transformation to become more sustainable and support the transition of the economy to an innovative chemical industry hub following the exit of coal mining and coal based value chains in Germany.
UPM is one of the lighthouse projects for the industrial bioeconomy. In Leuna, UPM invests EUR 550 million in a biorefinery producing renewable chemicals from wood. The refinery will be one of the first industrial-scale projects to convert sustainable hardwood into renewable glycols and renewable functional fillers. With more than 100 employees in commercial, research and development and operations roles, UPM will support the region’s economic development and the generation of the green chemistry excellence cluster in Leuna.
“Mitigating climate change requires a fundamental transition of the way we live and run our economies. While we have made progress in decarbonizing the energy sector, we need to take bolder steps in reducing CO2 emissions also in the material sector. The UPM Biorefinery in Leuna will be at the heart of an emerging green chemistry cluster. It is our clear ambition to actively contribute to the transformation of chemical industry value chains to replace oil, gas and coal with renewable alternatives,” says Winfried Schaur, Executive Vice President UPM.
Plastics will continue to play a vital role in the future material mix. The key will be to maximize recycling rates and inject renewable biochemicals into the cycle to cover material losses and respond to growing demand. Embracing bioeconomy and green chemistry as lead concepts for transforming the region around Leuna is a daring but auspicious undertaking.
“Building a green chemistry cluster here in Leuna will enable continuous development and growth of the chemical industry in the region. The combination of top-level research institutions and innovative businesses creates the framework for developing an international green chemistry lighthouse. UPM’s biorefinery is an important reference point for this development,” says Dr. Christof Guenther, Managing Director of Infra Leuna GmbH. Infra Leuna and its affiliated companies operate the infrastructure at the Leuna Chemical Site.
While the construction of the UPM biorefinery is in full swing, the technical start-up of the refinery is expected for the end of 2022, with production ramping up in 2023. The total annual capacity of the biorefinery will be 220,000 tonnes of bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG), bio-monopropylene glycol (BioMPG) and lignin-based Renewable Functional Fillers (RFF) made from certified hardwood sourced regionally in Germany.