UPM’s new renewable product to reduce CO2 footprint of rubber and plastics

Sustainable energy

GermanyUPM BioMotion Renewable Functional Fillers (RFF) are the company’s most recent breakthrough development in the field of sustainable solutions.

They address the critical need to reduce CO2 emissions from rubber and plastics products by providing a truly sustainable alternative to the dominant functional fillers used in rubber and plastic products today, which are fossil-based carbon black and precipitated silica.

“The RFF portfolio will be produced from sustainably sourced hardwood at our first-of-its-kind biorefinery in Leuna, Germany,” says Juuso Konttinen, Vice President UPM Biochemicals.

UPM BioMotion will enable a considerable improvement in the sustainability performance of rubber and plastic products in a wide range of end-uses, most notably by drastically lowering their CO2 footprint and weight. They can be used in a wide variety of elastomers, thermoplastic compounds, and thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) in industries such as automotive, flooring, and footwear. The mass production of RFF at Leuna will begin in 2023. In a contemporary Application Development Centre on site in Leuna, which will officially open later this year, the company began product testing and development as well as compounding services.

UPM’s patent-protected process for producing UPM BioMotion RFF is ‘world-first.’ UPM BioMotion RFF and other biochemicals are produced using wood from sustainably managed forests and byproducts from sawmill operations. UPM employs certified hardwood from regional forests and has a strict chain of custody monitoring system in place. This makes the UPM BioMotion RFF feedstock really sustainable and provides forest owners with a viable economic perspective, entirely in line with the German Federal Forest Strategy.

Aside from lowering the carbon footprint, UPM BioMotion RFF helps end-use products become cleaner, resulting in overall superior environmental performance due to the higher renewable content. Furthermore, they ensure good technical performance while allowing weight savings of up to 25% in finished rubber products as compared to those produced using fossil-based fillers. These weight savings are a clear added benefit, particularly in the automotive industry, where lower weight equals greater mileage, lower costs, and even lower CO2 emissions.

With an annual capacity of 220.000 tons, the UPM biorefinery will generate renewable monoethylene glycol (bMEG), renewable monopropylene glycol (bMPG), and Renewable Functional Fillers (RFF) from sustainably sourced, certified hardwood.