Polymers are not the problem, but the solution

Dmitry Konov provides insight into SIBUR’s environmental strategy at the Startup Village LiveStream ’20 online conference.

Dmitry Konov, Chairman of SIBUR's Management Board, took part in the eighth annual international Startup Village LiveStream technology conference organised by the Skolkovo Foundation. The digital format of the event helped bring together a wide range of international experts, investors and startup businesses even with the pandemic restrictions in place.

During the discussion focusing on modern technologies and business models, Dmitry Konov emphasised the role of the environmental aspect in SIBUR’s development strategy. To facilitate greener production, the Company is making ongoing investments in advanced technology. Over the past 15 years, SIBUR’s production expansion and upgrade spending has exceeded USD 20 bn.

“In the past decade, petrochemicals earned the reputation of a dangerous and polluting industry,” said Dmitry Konov. “Our mission is to prove each of the established opinions wrong through continuous development and improvement. The technologies we are employing today to ensure operational safety and mitigate environmental risks are way more advanced than those chemical companies had a decade ago.”

Environmental responsibility policies that big industry players are now putting in place have become integral to the modern business culture

Environmental responsibility policies that big industry players are now putting in place have become integral to the modern business culture. SIBUR contributes to environmental protection as part of its operating activities, as it works with commodity companies and purchases oil and gas by-products fr om them. This means such products are not burnt into the air, but used as feedstock for petchem production.

According to Dmitry Konov, though, the urgency of environmental issues provokes a controversial attitude of the public towards petrochemical products. “SIBUR processes mixed hydrocarbons into a broad range of materials widely regarded as plastic,” explained Dmitry Konov. “This area has come under intense public scrutiny. People unfamiliar with the industry usually take a negative stance towards single-use goods. At the same time, the types of plastic used in the automotive industry do not draw such a strong negative response from people.”

Dmitry Konov pointed out that the modern petrochemical industry can solve many pressing environmental issues. In terms of environmental impact, plastic is not the problem, but the solution. The carbon footprint from its production and use, or the general level of environmental impact, is much lower than that of any other materials. The main problems are the disposal of polymers after their use, lack of ingrained waste collection and sorting culture, and insufficient recycling, Dmitry Konov believes. In these circumstances, SIBUR’s objective is to invest in the technologies that will facilitate reuse of plastic in the industry to help phase out primary polymers wh ere possible.

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