First climatically neutral polycarbonate
The first climate neutral polycarbonate
Since December 2021, Covestro has started the sale of the first climate-neutral polycarbonate. This result is the result of a corporate mission that aims to achieve sustainability and circular economy: on the one hand biobased raw materials or from waste recycling, on the other a production cycle that does not have a negative balance of CO2 and consumption of non-renewable sources.
The mere use of raw materials of non-fossil origin or recovered is not enough to say that a product is climate neutral. To obtain a zero impact polycarbonate it is necessary that the entire production process is sustainable and does not consume resources or emit carbon dioxide.
This result is therefore the result of a complex strategic path that has made it possible to innovate the entire production chain: raw materials, manufacturing processes, energy used.
The new polycarbonate is an important step in the transformation of plastic chemistry into zero impact chemistry. And it becomes a forerunner of a renewed production chain with:
- design technology of the materials used in view of their recycling at the end of their life
- use of recovered polycarbonate in new materials
- replacement of precursors with substances obtained from bio-renewable mass
- energy for production from green sources.
- innovative solutions that drive sustainability in all sectors in which polycarbonate is used.
Covestro's president of the polycarbonate segment said:
“Offering zero impact polycarbonate is a milestone in pursuing our vision of sustainability. We are committed to supporting our customers in the mobility, electronics, electricity, healthcare and home appliances sectors to meet their challenges through products that deliver excellent performance, cost efficiency and sustainability. We accompany our customers in accelerating the transition to the circular economy, as well as contributing to the construction of an industrial ecology that favors circularity”.
Sustainable products with zero impact polycarbonate
Polycarbonate and technopolymers in general are playing a decisive role in all industrial fields and in numerous applications that are now part of our daily life. Transport and automotive, medicine or construction, electronics and clothing: in each of these markets it is possible to find components made of polycarbonate. Increasing the sustainability of this material means, in a chain, implementing the sustainability of the individual objects of use and overall the impact that our choices as consumers have.
The intrinsic characteristics and performances of technopolymers are determining their growing success. It has been calculated that the increase in demand for polyurethane and engineered plastics over the next five years will be 5% in the medical sector, 6% in the electronics sector and up to 9% in the transport and automotive sectors. Moreover, the market is also looking for new plastic materials with increasingly specialized and advanced performances, such as to satisfy the requests for economic and environmental effectiveness and sustainability.
In the biomedical field, the administration of treatments and telemedicine will push the demand for wearable devices made of technopolymers and in hospitals the search for innovative technical solutions in treatment and diagnostics is continuing. In the transport industry, electric mobility is demanding lighter and more technical components with mechanical strength and safety similar to that of metals. In electronics, new plastics are replacing increasingly expensive raw materials.
And it is precisely at the Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas last January 2022, that the official presentation of the new sustainable polycarbonate took place. In the words of Sucheta Govil, Covestro's Chief Commercial Officer:
"I am very proud of the launch of this climate-neutral product and its presentation at this important fair. This is another milestone in pursuing our vision of sustainability: we are accompanying our customers in accelerating the transition to the circular economy, as well as helping to build an industrial ecology that favors circularity".
Certify the zero impact
For companies, embracing sustainability is a necessary action to establish themselves on the market and continue to be successful over time. This is not an accessory or optional choice but the only possible organizational model if the company wants to remain competitive for customers and for its financiers.
In addition to transparent policies and the consistent application of sustainability objectives, there are objective tools that certify company products and processes.
At the end of last year, Covestro received ISCC Plus certification for its two production sites in Uerdingen and Leverkusen. The ISCC Plus certification (stands for International Sustainability & Carbon Certification aimed at food, solid biomass, chemical products) is one of the first European systems to regulate the sustainability of products by analyzing the mass balance along the entire production chain. Created to monitor the implementation of the sustainability objectives deriving from the European RED directive of 2009, the ISCC Plus has become the most adopted certification by companies, which have tripled from 300 in 2019 in just two years.
Thanks to the "chain of custody" principle, it is checked and verified that the product maintains the requirements of sustainability, traceability and mass balance along the entire supply and production chain of the product itself.
The new polycarbonate has zero impact because in addition to the biomass raw materials, the electricity used (from renewable energy) both for the electrolysis of chlorine, essential for the production of polycarbonate, and for other phases of the process have also been certified as sustainable.
Zero impact and life cycle (CLA or Life Cycle Assessment)
Climate neutrality is the result of the evaluation of the life cycle of the product from the extraction of resources to the exit from the factory, also known as "from the cradle to the gate assessment". With method and analysis all the phases that make up the product are evaluated: from the processes of extraction of raw materials, to its production, from its distribution, to its final use and disposal, returning the environmental impact values for each step.
At the value of the calculations, the environmental footprint value of a product thus generated according to different "impact categories", which represent all the different effects that this kind in the environment. Among the categories considered is the increase in the greenhouse effect, measured on the basis of the amount of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere that are generated by the consumption of energy and materials.
Covestro, to measure the LCA, is based on the ISO 14040 standard, critically revised by TÜV Rheinland. The calculation considers carbon sequestration based on preliminary supply chain data and the replacement of the necessary energy with renewable electricity without applying offsetting measures.
Covestro's corporate strategy was also awarded an A- by the non-profit organization CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), which annually evaluates companies and cities for their path towards environmental sustainability and the fight against climate change. This is an important result that places Covestro in a leadership position for:
- the commitment to achieve the circular economy
- business performance
- transparent communication
- compliance with the climate neutrality objectives set for the first quarter of 2022.
The placing on the market of zero impact polycarbonate is only the first step for new alternative raw materials that will be introduced in the value chain. It is a concrete way to accelerate the transition of the plastic polymer sector to the circular economy of plastics by leveraging the existing chemical infrastructure with its high efficiency and strong economy of scale.
Circular economy as a shared horizon for a sustainable future
It has been nearly four decades since the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) first introduced the concept of sustainable development. It was 1987 and it was declared that:
“sustainable development is development that satisfies the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs”.
From that moment on, companies began to question themselves not only on the economic facts that concerned them but on the ethical and environmental principles that should inspire them.
The reform of articles 9 and 41 of our Constitution of 8 February 2022 places the state as the guarantor of this path and strengthens the principles of protecting the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, in the interest of future generations. As Article 41 states: "Private economic initiative is free. It cannot take place contrary to social utility or in such a way as to damage security, freedom, human dignity, health, the environment. law determines the appropriate programs and controls so that public and private economic activity can be directed and coordinated for social and environmental purposes ".