UPM and Dongsung Chemical partner to develop renewable products using wood-based biomass

UPM’s biochemical, Bio-MEG

UPM and Dongsung Chemical have announced a development partnership that will accelerate the introduction of renewable, sustainable forest-sourced materials into the Asian market and reduce fossil resource consumption.

Dongsung Chemical, headquartered in South Korea, and UPM Biochemicals, headquartered in Germany have agreed to form a strategic partnership to develop renewable products using bio-based raw materials, initially for footwear materials.

Dongsung Chemical has signed a Letter of Intent for this strategic partnership to develop a renewable polyurethane product based on UPM Biochemicals’ bio-based mono-ethylene glycols (MEG), UPM BioPura.

UPM is investing €750 million to build an industry-scale biorefinery at the town Leuna in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, to convert sustainably sourced, certified woody biomass into next generation biochemicals. The facility aims to produce 220,000 tonnes annually in total. Bio-MEG is one of the outputs.

UPM’s Bio-MEG is produced from sustainably sourced, certified hardwood obtained from forests in the regions around Leuna in Germany. The biomass does not compete with food resources and has a carbon reduction effect of minimum 70% compared to fossil fuel-based MEG.

UPM is reportedly working on further optimising processes to enable carbon neutrality or even negativity of the product.

Through the partnership, the two companies will cooperate in the development of eco-friendly products using Bio-MEG, targeting the Asian market and its vast textile and footwear industries.

Dongsung Chemical plans to diversify its portfolio by advancing eco-friendly product lines, integrating UPM’s Bio-MEG into its production. Its aim is to apply it first to footwear materials and then expanding the field of application to automotive interior materials and adhesives.

Michael Duetsch, vice-president of biochemicals operations at UPM, said: “We are delighted to partner with Dongsung Chemical as it pursues its strategy to replace petrochemical-based raw materials with bio-based raw materials and reduce the carbon footprint of its products.

“UPM is building a world beyond fossils, and we will work with our partners at Dongsung to deliver outstanding solutions for their customers, who are also eager to reduce their carbon footprint.”

UPM targets the start-up for end 2023.