Borealis: Taking Sustainable Growth and Innovation Global

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With its head office in Vienna, Austria, the company currently has around 6,600 employees and operates in over 120 countries.

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Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With its head office in Vienna, Austria, the company currently has around 6,600 employees and operates in over 120 countries. UAE-based Mubadala, through its holding company, owns 64% of Borealis, with the remaining 36% belonging to Austria-based OMV, an integrated, international oil and gas company. Last year, Borealis recorded the best financial result in its history, with a net profit of over one billion euros. Since 2007, Borealis Chief Executive Mark Garrett has shepherded the company through the global financial crisis, diversified it for sustainable growth and has increasingly taken this growth global.

Chief Executive Mark Garrett takes Borealis sustainable growth global. 

In 2016, Borealis net profit crossed the one billion euro mark for the first time in the company’s history. This record-breaking result made Borealis one of Austria’s most profitable companies. For many, the company is still a “hidden champion”, even though it outshines iconic Austrian firms like Red Bull and Glock in terms of financial performance. Borealis has also been the Austrian leader in patent filings in the past two years, a clear indicator of its remarkable innovation potential.

Mark Garrett, Borealis Chief Executive since 2007, argues that Borealis will not remain “hidden” for much longer. On his watch, Borealis has expanded its global footprint and has become one of the most successful companies in Austria and in the UAE-based Mubadala group. Borealis has grown outward from its early Nordic roots – the name Borealis is taken from the Latin word for “from the North” – to become a global enterprise, with operations in 120 countries on five continents and a highly diverse workforce of 6,600 people from 70 different nations. The company’s early base in polyolefins has now evolved towards a much more diversified portfolio of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers.

Garrett explains the key to the success of Borealis. “We believe strongly that constancy
to purpose is what gives us such a solid foundation. The cyclicality of our business is a reality that we fully accept, but we always remain focussed on a consistent and concise strategy. We clearly define our strategy on one page, we announce what we are going to do in the coming years and then we go out and do it. Another driver of our growth is our absolute dedication
to Value Creation through Innovation, and its application throughout the entire value chain. Our Visioneering PhilosophyTM enables us to see innovation as a constant journey. We keep discovering, pushing the boundaries of science to develop solutions that exceed customer expectations.”

At the same time, Garrett stresses the importance of investing in existing production facilities to keep them at a world-class level. Borealis is already the second largest polyolefins producer in Europe, ranking at number 8 worldwide. Garrett wants to keep strengthening European operations, but also points to the need for geographical diversification to take full advantage of global feedstock supply.

Borouge, the joint venture established in 1997 between Borealis and ADNOC in the UAE, is a prime example of this strategy. Following the successful start-up of the Borouge 3 complex in Ruwais, UAE, Borouge now operates the world’s largest integrated polyolefins site, boasting a 4.5 million tonnes/year capacity. Recently Borealis and ADNOC agreed to extend and expand their collaboration, announcing that they would build Borouge 4 and a new polypropylene plant (PP5). Garrett calls the massive new Borouge 4 expansion the most ambitious project of its kind in the history of Borealis.

Borealis is equally set on taking full advantage of North American feedstock availability and recently announced its intention to form a joint venture with NOVA Chemicals, another member of the Mubadala Group, and Total Petrochemicals to operate Total’s existing PE facility in Bayport, Texas, and build a new ethane cracker and a Borstar® polyethylene (PE) plant in Texas. Borealis also announced that it would build a new automotive compounding plant in North Carolina.

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The Visioneering Philosophy(TM): Pushing the Boundaries of Science 

When asked what the Borealis Visioneering Philosophy means in practice, Garrett begins by explaining the technology that lies at the heart of Borealis innovation: the unique Borstar process, a technology that liberates polymer design. Enhanced polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) products with entirely new feature combinations and performance possibilities can be designed, allowing us to anticipate unmet market needs. “In principle, there are no limits to what we can create with our proprietary technologies,” Garrett says, adding: “This is one reason why we are eager to hire and cultivate the sharpest minds out there. We need the best polymer chemists and engineers to unlock the molecular properties of our materials, and create tailor-made products.”

The BorlinkTM technology is also a cornerstone of the company’s success. Borealis record breaking 640 kV extruded HVDC cable technology based on Borlink, means that one single pair of these cables can be used to safely transmit over 3 GW of power over longer distances. This enables the transmission of large amounts of electricity from offshore wind parks to the main electricity consumption centres. “Step- change innovations like these accelerate the energy transition and help integrate growing amounts of renewable energy sources into the grid,” Garrett explains.

Borealis new solar brand QuentysTM is another milestone in its mission to drive sustainability and realise business opportunities in new areas. Borealis hit the ground running in May this year with the launch of the first product made with Quentys grades: a solar backsheet that extends the lifetime of PV modules and improves their operational reliability. “This is the first in a long line of innovative Quentys solutions. We are about to revolutionise solar by enhancing its viability on a global scale,” claims Garrett. Borealis also promotes enhanced sustainability in the automotive industry with its range of lightweighting solutions. Lighter vehicles mean lower CO2 emissions and, for electric vehicles, increased battery range. Innovative DaplenTM, FibremodTM and FibremodTM Carbon grades help designers and engineers develop lighter vehicles without any design restrictions. “The sky is the limit when it comes to collaborative opportunities,” says Garrett, citing recent fruitful partnerships with Opel/ Vauxhall and Magna Exteriors.

Creating a Circular Economy Future for Plastics Advanced polymers also play a role in making rigid and flexible packaging more sustainable.

In 2016, Borealis introduced the Borstar-based Full PE Laminate solution, designed for better recyclability. This novel monomaterial gives PE-based packaging a second life as valuable end products.

“Leveraging our internal R&D capabilities through structured collaboration with external partners along the entire value chain is what made this breakthrough possible,” says Garrett.

Garrett says the company is committed to increasing the resource efficiency of plastics, and has taken the lead in helping the industry overcome the challenges of bringing polyolefins packaging into a circular economy model. “The circular economy is both a business imperative and an opportunity. We have to take a more holistic perspective and consider the entire life cycle of a product, from design to deployment, recovery and reuse. But we have already put our money where our mouth is,” Garrett continues, referring to Borealis acquisition of leading German recycler mtm plastics. “We are the first virgin polyolefin producer in the world to acquire a recycling company. For us this is a fantastic opportunity to learn and combine our respective areas of expertise, allowing us to create business opportunities based on circular economy principles.”

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Borealis became one of the first prime plastics producers to join the New Plastics Economy initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, where it will play a role in redesigning the future of plastics. Around the same time, the company promoted the creation of the Polyolefins Circular Platform, an industry-wide body uniting the efforts of value chain members to increase the resource efficiency and recovery of plastics.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Firmly Rooted in Borealis Core Values 

Borealis is a believer in practicing what it preaches.

The core values Responsible, Respect, Exceed and NimblicityTM are truly lived in daily business and are firmly incorporated in the Borealis Ethics Policy. In the spirit of these values, Borealis dedicates 1% of its annual profits to the Borealis Social Fund, established in 2007 to enhance the social welfare of the communities in which the company operates. The fund provides assistance in three main areas: education and social integration; water and sanitation (Water for the WorldTM); resource efficiency and plastic waste avoidance.

Recent highlights of the Borealis Social Fund include: 

– A two-year project carried out with four international partners entailed the installation of high-quality PE pipes in conjunction with pre-paid water dispensers in order to provide access to clean and considerably cheaper water for more than 50,000 low-income citizens of Nairobi, Kenya.

– Establishment of the Borealis Scholarships Endowment at Webster Vienna Private University to enable top students from disadvantaged backgrounds to obtain a world-class university education.

– Renewed financial support for long-standing partnerships with the Emirates Foundation (for development of programmes aimed at promoting social inclusion, community engagement, leadership and empowerment); and the Emirates National Schools (development of modern educational tools, including a specific technology used to develop materials in Arabic).

In addition to activities sponsored by the Borealis Social Fund, Borealis actively collaborates with universities around the world. It has established the coveted Student Innovation Award for the most innovative chemical and plastics solutions presented in research papers. It also partners with suppliers, brand owners and customers to engage in R&D and pursue new business opportunities through Open Innovation. Multidisciplinary project

teams allow the sharing of insights across sectors and countries. Thanks in large part to its Innovation Centres in Europe and the Middle East, Borealis is also ranked among the top patent holders in the world.

About Mark Garrett 

Mark Garrett has been Chairman of the Executive Board at Borealis AG since 2007, and its Chief Executive Officer since January 2008. In 2014, his contract was renewed to 2019.

Before joining Borealis, Garrett headed a number of business units at Ciba and DuPont de Nemours, including the position Head of the Water & Paper Treatment Segment at Ciba Holding, Inc. from 2001 to February 2007. Mark Garrett serves on a number of boards in various chairman, director or member functions, including Abu Dhabi Polymers Company Ltd. (Borouge ADP), NOVA Chemicals Inc., Umicore S.A., Axalta Coating Systems Ltd., and Webster Vienna Private University.

Garrett earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Melbourne in Australia and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Information Systems from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Born in Melbourne in 1962, he holds both Australian and Swiss passports. He lives in Vienna, Austria and Basel, Switzerland; is married with three children.

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Borealis: Taking Sustainable Growth and Innovation Global

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