Innovators for alternative raw materials

Plastics are still a material that is mainly produced from oil. With plastic continuously needed in our society, there are people searching to replace oil and find new resources and alternative raw materials for future synthetics.

Plastics with a purpose

Circular Economy does not only stand for reducing, recycling and reusing – it is also a topic of rethinking. While plastics remain a material we all depend on, there is a need for us as a society to reduce its usage and help decarbonize the economic system in the future. But in many areas of our lives, plastics maintain an essential part. Sometimes even life-essential: Let’s think of the medical industry, for example. Of medical equipment and abacterial packaging in hospitals. Of battery boxes for the increasement of e-mobility. Of smartphones, laptops and the full range of smart technology that relies on material solutions made of plastics. Unthinkable to lose all that in order to make a change. So, with plastic continuously needed in our society, we need to replace oil, find low-carbon alternatives, recycle what we considered waste, and discover other renewable resources. We want to know, what state are we in right now, in science, industry and economy, when it comes to alternatively produced plastics?

Get to know our innovators in the field of alternative raw materials: 

Lars Börger is working at Neste, a Finnish company providing oil and renewable products such as fuels or feedstock for the polymers and chemicals industry. At Neste he is working on alternatives to fossil raw materials for polymers and chemicals that can contribute to a circular economy, using renewable raw materials such as waste and residue oils and fats - used cooking oil for example - and advancing chemical recycling to combat plastic waste pollution.

Also working in that field, but from a purely scientific side is Lars M. Blank. He works as a professor at RWTH Aachen, one of the most renowned universities in Europe when it comes to new technologies. In his opinion, decarbonization has been just a big misunderstanding, whereas defossilization is the goal we need to set for ourselves.

Coming from an economic and “hands-on” direction, Kai Vogt from Vaude – a German manufacturer of outdoor clothing and outdoor gear – gives us a glimpse on their products that are actually using plastics coming from alternative raw materials.

Interviewees express general views not connected to the specific companies mentioned or shown.

Lars Börger

Vice President Strategy and Long-term Development Renewable Polymers and Chemicals, Neste Germany GmbH

Neste’s aim is to become a global leader in renewable and circular solutions. Neste believes that accelerating the transition to a circular economy for plastics with renewable and recycled solutions can solve two problems: reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing the global challenge of plastic waste. Neste is therefore committed to offering renewable and recycled solutions to replace fossil resources and turn waste plastic into a valuable raw material for new plastics, enabling the sustainable transformation of the polymers and chemicals industry.

Lars M. Blank

Professor for Applied Microbiology, RWTH Aachen University

Lars M. Blank focuses in his research on fundamental and applied aspects of microbial metabolism. He e.g., is working on novel approaches for plastic recycling and therefore addresses one of the greatest challenges of our time: the establishment of a circular (bio)-economy for plastics that could help to generate alternative regional sources for carbon.

Kai Vogt

Head of Innovation & Hardware Equipment, VAUDE

VAUDE uses synthetic materials such as polyester, polyamide or polyurethane for the majority of its products. But the company has set itself the goal of using more and more renewable raw materials. VAUDE’s concrete goal is: By 2024, 90% of all VAUDE products should have a recycled or bio-based material content of more than 50%.