JSE-listed chemicals group AECI and sustainable materials-focused company Origin Materials have expanded their existing joint agreement to develop low-carbon materials based on renewable chemistry.
AECI has been a strategic investor in Origin Materials since 2017.
The new projects involve US-based AECI SANS Fibers and South Africa-based AECI Much Asphalt and will help AECI achieve its new strategy and vision of “a better world”, aligned with its recently published sustainability targets that include reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 2025.
The partnership with AECI SANS Fibers is aimed at the development, industrialisation and manufacture of advanced materials built on Origin Materials’ carbon-negative technology platform.
This platform turns inexpensive, sustainable wood residues into carbon-negative materials and is also expected to provide stable pricing largely de-coupled from the crude oil supply chain, which is exposed to more volatility than supply chains based on sustainable wood residues, the company explained in a release on April 7.
The partnership includes an agreement to buy carbon-negative polyethylene terephthalate and next-generation polymers to be used in an array of end products including clothing, footwear and automotive sewing thread applications.
This is expected to enhance AECI SANS Fibers’ contribution to economic growth and increase sustainability on the North American continent as a whole.
For AECI Much Asphalt, the partnership with Origin Materials is the next step on its sustainability journey in terms of reducing its own footprint and that of its customers.
The company has already re-engineered its manufacturing process to include up to 40% reclaimed asphalt in the final product. Since 2012, this more circular process has avoided the impact associated with mining more than one-million tonnes of aggregate and refining 53 500 t of asphalt.
“Recycling has been so successful that the South African road authorities have included it in some tenders as a requirement,” the company said in the statement.
The asphalt component of AECI Much Asphalt’s hot mixes accounts for a significant portion of the carbon footprint of the overall product. Because the asphalt is derived from petroleum processing, the development of a low-carbon alternative based on the Origin Materials platform is expected to substantially reduce the products’ overall carbon footprint.
Commenting on the extended partnerships AECI CE Mark Dytor says the two projects will “ultimately result in a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions”.
The company’s strategy to 2025 has sustainability at its core and the partnership with Origin Materials is aligned with this, and it “exemplifies [AECI’s] commitment to enabling a better world through its products and services”.
Origin Materials co-CEO Rich Riley expects the partnership to result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and said that it will “play a key role” in Origin Materials’ mission to enable the world’s transition to sustainable materials.