In an interview with Newsweek and Investment Reports, Borouge PTE’s CEO Rainer Hoefling shared his thoughts about the role polyolefins play in the green transition and how Borouge contributes to circularity, through the development of innovative sustainable solutions that positively impact society today and tomorrow.
6 October 2022
Newsweek and Investment Reports
Could you provide an overview of Borouge and your current focus, in the context of a rapidly changing world?
Borouge is a leading global petrochemicals company that provides innovative and differentiated polyolefin (polyethylene and polypropylene) solutions to a wide range of industry verticals. We are a strategic partnership between the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Austria-based Borealis. Borouge Plc listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in June 2022 and a significant contributor to the UAE's GDP growth. The company is a UAE champion employing over 3,100 people around the world and serving customers in over 100 countries across the Middle East, Africa, the Asia Pacific and Oceania. We also sell some of our products in Europe, South America and North Africa, via Borealis.
We commenced production in 2001 in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, producing 450,000 tons of polyolefin that year, with production growing to 5 million tons in 2022. Our Ruwais site is one of the world's largest integrated polyolefin complexes. Our new polypropylene unit (PP5) increases our polypropylene capacity by 25%.
We also have a Compounding Manufacturing Plant (CMP) in Shanghai, China, producing sustainable products specifically designed for the mobility market including electric vehicles and electrical mobility. Here we produce products that are critical for our customers, including lightweight dashboards, car bumpers and other components. Other sustainable applications such as healthcare also offer an opportunity for growth, this was particularly apparent through Covid-19. We collaborate extensively with the entire value chain, including key brand owners with the aim of developing circularity in these industries.
What is the role that polyolefins can play in the green transition?
Polyolefins have an exciting product scope. Take food waste as an example – more than 10% of the world's population faces food insecurity at severe levels, yet 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out every year. Intelligent packaging solutions can help increase product shelf life, helping minimize this wastage. We are also working on sustainable solutions for access to clean water and sanitation, given that over 2 billion people consume contaminated drinking water. Borouge is a piping solutions industry leader, producing materials for pipes up to three meters in diameter. We have projects ranging from feeding water to greenhouses to grow food more efficiently, to piping that enables better access to drinking water for people. A water pipe has a life cycle of 50 years thanks to properties such as the non-corrosive nature of polyolefin pipes.
Regarding the green energy transition, Borouge and Borealis are industry leaders providing material for the cable industry. Huge wind farms create energy that is transported through cables that run across the seafloor, hundreds of meters under the sea. Achieving this requires clean, sustainable products, which are among our core areas of focus.
How is Borouge approaching circularity?
We are using innovative technology and design to ensure our products are highly durable and recyclable across all industries we serve, including agriculture and healthcare. We are exploring ways in which we can support more recycling, to ensure our commitment to circular economy. I view this as our future license to operate.
Europe is already quite ahead in the game; the Middle East and Asia will be coming next. We have partnerships with recycling companies and have taken on recycled materials into our product portfolio. Recycling will be a core element within Borouge's portfolio because we must be part of the solution. Notably, 100% of our products are already recyclable.
What are your goals for Borouge for the next few years?
Our goal is to continuously grow as a company, with a particular focus on sustainability and circularity. Our existing expansion plans will add another 1.4 million tons of polyethylene capacity by 2025. We aim to grow to 6.4 million tons. The manufacturing of durable product parts for infrastructure will be another key part of our future growth. We need to continue expanding in the Asia Pacific, specifically China, India and Southeast Asia.
Borouge wants to play a leading role that has a positive impact on society today and tomorrow. We have the technology, world-class innovation capability, a Packaging Centre of Excellence in Abu Dhabi and an Application Center in Shanghai. We will continue to develop and commercialize circular packaging solutions and grow our sustainable impact.