MEG is a blockbuster commodity intermediate, used for plastic bottles and packaging, polyester textiles for clothing and furniture, and antifreeze applications.
Today, more than 99% of MEG is produced from fossil feedstock, such as naphtha, shale gas, natural gas and coal. Avantium’s plantMEG™ is a fully recyclable, plant-based and competitive product while being identical to fossil-based MEG in quality and performance.
Avantium partnered with Sphera to perform a cradle-to-grave LCA for Avantium’s plantMEG™ in its most applicable market (PET bottles) in 2025 with a regional focus on Europe. The LCA takes into account the use of beet sugar from Cosun Beet Company, the process based on Avantium’s Ray Technology™, as well as the end-of-life (at which point waste materials are recycled, incinerated or landfilled). The LCA is aligned with European Commission 2025 target setting for PET and plastic bottle collection and recycling in the Single Use Plastics Directive and uses the Circular Footprint Formula for end-of-life allocation. The study compared Avantium’s plantMEG production with current incumbent alternative production routes of MEG (using natural gas, naphtha, shale gas and coal feedstock). For the plantMEG™ production process, electricity from wind, green hydrogen based on wind power and thermal energy from natural gas was assumed. The plantMEG™ LCA study has been conducted according to the guidelines of ISO 14040/14044 and has been reviewed by an external critical review panel.
PlantMEG™ Carbon Footprint
The use of renewable feedstock (beet sugar from Cosun Beet Company) for plantMEG™ is the main driver for the reduced carbon footprint, 574kg CO2eq/t plantMEG™ compared to fossil-based MEG. The thermal energy used to produce plantMEG™ is the second driver for the carbon footprint. GHG emissions are 56%-83% lower compared to fossil-MEG (ranging from 56% compared to MEG made from shale gas to 83% for coal-based MEG). PlantMEG™ performs even better under the so-called “substitution approach”, which takes the perspective that recycling into secondary material at the end-of-life will substitute an equivalent amount of virgin material. With this approach, plantMEG™ scores 72%-89% better than fossil-MEG. In above figures, carbon sequestration during biomass growth is not taken into account, in line with the international standards and methods in Europe which do not allow for carbon discounting based on temporary storage.
“The LCA provides clear confirmation of the positive impact provided by Avantium’s plantMEG™. Our high-quality plantMEG™ is identical to fossil-based MEG in quality and performance. But the advantage is clear: the process of making plantMEG™ results in significantly lower CO2 emissions. This makes it a real game-changer for our collective green future”, says Math Lambalk, business development manager at Avantium Renewable Chemistries and responsible for the plantMEG™ LCA.
A summary of the LCA, also addressing other relevant impact categories, is available on the Avantium website: www.avantium.com/sustainability/LCA