Sabic to Use Waste-Fat Feedstock in Move Beyond Naphtha

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) plans to use cooking-oil and fat waste to produce plastics, expanding beyond its traditional naphtha and gas feedstock as European manufacturers seek packaging from renewable sources.

Sabic has developed technology to convert used biological material into supplies for its polymer factories, and is targeting European customers in areas such as packaging for food and medicines, said Mark Vester, a business-unit director at Sabic Europe overseeing low-density and linear low-density polyethylene operations.

The products meet purity standards more reliably than materials made from recycled packaging that carry a risk of containing a plastic that isn’t certified as being safe for use with consumables, Steven de Boer, head of innovation and sustainability, said in a joint phone interview with Vester.

Sabic is adapting plastic operations acquired in the past 12 years from Royal DSM NV, Huntsman Corp. and General Electric Co. to meet demand from consumer-goods producers looking to bolster their environmental credentials. A line making renewable polyolefins from waste fats will be situated alongside a naphtha-fed unit at Sabic’s plant in Geerlen, Netherlands.

“The market is growing at a substantial rate,” said Vester, who worked at DSM’s petrochemical unit prior to its sale to Sabic, and who integrated the Huntsman sites and assets into the Riyadh-based company’s European business. “Europe’s one of the more advanced markets. There’s demand for this solution outside of Europe.”

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To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at Tom Lavell, Kim McLaughlin

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