"By leveraging the collective strengths of this team, I am confident we will capture both near- and long-term opportunities," CEO Peter Vanacker said. "Our future-focused mindset will enable us to safely and successfully deliver on our goals, provide best-in-class customer service, advance our sustainability commitments, and create a workplace and culture that drives innovation."
The new Circular and Low-Carbon Solutions business unit will focus on growth of LyondellBasell's Circulen-brand renewable and circular products and will accelerate development of scalable sustainable and circular technologies. Van der Laan, who has more than 20 years of industry experience and has been with LyondellBasell since 2019, will be the unit's first leader.
In an Oct. 3 phone interview, van der Laan said that LyondellBasell's sustainability work "is proof that there's demand out there [for sustainable products] and that brand owners have made commitments to these materials."
"When you look at consumer behavior, there's good momentum and a big opportunity," she added. "Customers are demanding products that address the plastic waste issue. We want to address the demands of our customers and their customers and the entire integrated value chain."
Van der Laan said that interest in sustainability goes beyond short-term issues like a possible economic recession or the energy supply challenges that Europe currently is facing. "Brand owners know that this is a long-term effort," she added. "It's not something you can fix in 48 hours."
LyondellBasell launched the Circulen line in 2021. The materials currently are focused on high density polyethylene and polypropylene and can be made via mechanical recycling, molecular recycling or by using recycled content material.
Van der Laan said LyondellBasell is accelerating development of its Circulen pilot plant in Ferrara, Italy.
"The goal is to scale up infrastructure and keep material out of landfills," she said.
Recent sustainability efforts from LyondellBasell include its role in forming the Houston Recycling Collaboration earlier this year. HRC's goal is to improve the recycling rate in the fourth-largest city in the U.S. In addition to LyondellBasell and city government, HRC includes ExxonMobil Corp., chemical recycler Cyclyx International and solid waste manager FCC Environmental Services.
In mid-2021, LyondellBasell and resin makers Dow Inc. and Nova Chemicals Corp. joined with Closed Loop Partners to launch a $100 million investment fund to help finance recovery and recycling of PE and PP in the U.S. and Canada. The group aims to fund projects that recycle more than 500 million pounds of both post-consumer and post-industrial plastics over its 10-year lifespan.
LyondellBasell is a major global supplier of PE and PP resins and also ranks as North America's largest plastics compounder. The firm posted sales of $46.2 billion in 2021.