Arkema’s Sustainable Castor Oil Initiative Advances Sustainable Farming to Produce Bio-Based Polymer Materials
With an increased emphasis on sustainable chemistry practices, manufacturers are looking for solutions to enhance responsible consumption and production practices that have reduced impact on the environment.
Arkema’s bio-based polyamide 11 chemistry is derived from sustainable castor oil, which avoids competition with the world’s food supply and reduces deforestation consequences.
Arkema has not only innovated an advanced polymer made from fully sustainable resources, but also has co-created the world’s first sustainable castor farming initiative, training farmers in India on sustainable agricultural practices.
As part of its commitment to enabling circularity and contributing to society, Arkema’s Advanced Bio-Circular materials platform is promoting sustainable castor oil farming initiatives to develop the feedstock for manufacturing Rilsan® polyamide 11, an ultra-high-performance resin chemistry derived entirely from renewable castor oil.
Arkema is a founding member of the Pragati initiative to drive sustainable castor oil farming in Gujarat, India, where 80 percent of the world’s supply of castor beans is produced. Since 2016, Arkema and its partners, BASF, Jayant Agro-Organics Ltd., and Solidaridad, have worked to educate and certify farmers to help: use good agricultural practices to increase yield, and therefore, income; efficiently use water resources and maintain soil fertility; drive adoption of good waste management practices; and enable enhanced health and safety practices and human rights.
The Pragati sustainable farming initiative has helped advance quality of life for thousands of Indian farmers and their families, while also helping to reduce their carbon footprint. After four years of implementation key results include:
- Over 4,500 farmers trained, audited, and certified on sustainable farming practices;
- 24,000 tons of certified castor seed cultivated, an increase of 70 percent over four years;
- 50 percent increase in yield versus comparable yield published by local government in the region in 2019 and 2020;
- Over 8,700 hectares farmed in accordance with SuCCESS, Arkema’s castor sustainability code – an increase of 71 percent over four years;
- More than 12,000 hours of classroom teaching to educate farmers;
- Approximately 5,000 safety kits and crop protection product boxes distributed free of charge to farmers.
To complement this work, in 2020 Arkema launched a recycling program called Virtucycle®, which helps connect customers that seek to recycle polyamide 11 and other materials, with those who want to use post-consumer and post-industrial recycled materials in their products.
The conversion of castor oil into polymers is the next part of the value chain that Arkema is committed to improving. Arkema has invested $400 million to launch a bio-factory in Singapore that will be dedicated to producing bio-based polymers. Manufacturing these polymers in Asia, where production of products made from polymers is expanding, can help set the stage for growth in use of advanced bio-circular materials.