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      Creating Eco-friendly Solutions Throughout the Value Chain

      Sustainable Production: Visions for the Bigger Picture

      Sustainability is about more than just reducing emissions and strictly adhering to statutory requirements. At Covestro, we believe true sustainability demands all of our corporate activities benefit both the economy and society, while offering the lowest possible environmental impact. To achieve this goal, we must go to the core of interactions between suppliers, manufacturers, contractors, and consumers. This is the only way to develop sustainability concepts that consider the entire product lifecycle.

      In our own production plants, we increase efficiency by recycling salt and water. We expand available resources by transforming CO₂ into a raw material for manufacturing plastics. And we develop materials that increase efficiency and save resources in the textile production processes of our partners.

      “At Covestro, our vision is to make the world a brighter place. We do that today by using new technologies that reduce emissions.”
      Christian Haessler, Head of Sustainability

      Sustainable to the Core

      Increasing Production Efficiency

      Production processes in the chemical industry are resource and energy intensive. At Covestro, we don’t hide behind this. We take it as an incentive to assume responsibility and minimize consumption in our plants and processes. This attitude is the driving force behind our mission to establish cleaner production processes worldwide.

      One way we achieve this goal is through our energy management system STRUCTese®. This system monitors energy consumption at individual production locations and allows us to optimize usage. Through this management system, more than 1.65 million megawatt hours can be saved annually. Today, STRUCTese® is already being used at 60 production sites all over the world.

      “Oil, gas, and coal remain the major raw material sources in our industry. Utilizing CO₂ is one pioneering approach to expand our resource base and promote recycling.”
      Dr. Persefoni Hilken, Project Manager

      Measures for More Production Efficiency

      • Isocyanates and polyols are the two primary compounds used to make polyurethanes. As a world-leading supplier of both components, we have succeeded in making their production easier, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly than ever before. One milestone in this endeavor is gas-phase technology. As a result of this innovative technology, our production of isocyanate now uses far less resources than conventional, liquid-based processes.

        This cleaner production process reduces solvents by around 80 percent and energy usage by around 60 pecent. What’s more, annual carbon dioxide emissions for a typical large-scale plant (with a production capacity of 250,000 metric tons of TDI) are 60,000 metric tons lower than standard processes. We have been using gas-phase technology at our site in Shanghai since 2011 and at our Dormagen site since 2014.

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      • Many industrial processes produce a substantial amount of wastewater with very high salt concentrations. That’s why we’re focused on finding sustainable and economically viable methods for the treatment and re-use of this wastewater.

        Together with industry partners and scientists, we have developed an eco-friendly way to recover salt and water from industrial wastewater: We call it “Re-Salt” technology. The water and salt recycled using Re-Salt can later be used to manufacture chlorine – an important chemical element in polycarbonate and other plastics.

        We are currently planning a Re-Salt demonstration plant for testing purposes at our Krefeld-Uerdingen site. In the future, our goal is to develop a wastewater treatment process that not only benefits plastic manufacturers but also provides other industries cleaner production opportunities.

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      • Around 60 percent of all chemical products are made, directly or indirectly, using chlorine and/or sodium hydroxide. One of the major challenges facing the chlorine-alkali industry is the large amount of energy used by salt electrolysis in the creation of chlorine and sodium hydroxide. To tackle this problem, we are building a new chlorine production plant in Tarragona, Spain, that uses a new sustainable process: Oxygen-depolarized-cathode (ODC) technology. When compared to traditional chlorine production processes, ODC technology uses around a quarter less energy.

        Once complete, our plant in Tarragona will be the first industrial-scale plant based solely on this state-of-the-art technology. The use of ODC technology is expected to not only increase the plant’s sustainability but also enhance the site’s competitiveness. About a third of the cost of manufacturing chlorine is typically spent on energy, so the technology will make an important economic impact.

        Among the further possible applications for ODC technology are water purification and wastewater treatment, as well as disinfection applications or the storage of renewable energy using metal air batteries.

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      „Most plastics are still made from crude oil. Covestro is working with its partners to use more and more CO₂ as a raw material – for the good of the environment.”
      Dr. Persefoni Hilken, Venture Manager for CO₂ Polyols

      Sustainable Production

      Using Alternative Materials

      Preserving natural resources is our utmost priority. That’s why we’re constantly working on improving the energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of materials. Our primary aim is to help establish sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and ensure innovative materials are produced in an eco-friendly manner.

      Our CO₂ technology is a groundbreaking first step on the long journey toward a circular economy in plastic production. And our experts have a lot of other good ideas: They are continuously investigating ways to replace fossil components with alternative resources.

      A Closer Look at Our Alternatives

      • Cleaner production starts with the right raw materials. Our approach to reusing CO₂ as a raw material breaks new ground in the plastics industry. With our CO₂ technology, the crude oil normally required to manufacture polyurethane materials – for example for mattresses – can be replaced by CO₂. Behind this innovative process is years of intensive research by our team and our partners – and the courage to think beyond existing boundaries.

        Soft foams for mattresses are the first area where CO₂ is being used as a raw material, but not the only one. CO₂ is now also being used in sport as a component in a new binding agent for athletic surfaces. We are also working with RWTH Aachen University to manufacture synthetic fibers using CO₂ – a project that's nearly ready for market.

        Additionally, we are leading a cross-industry EU research project known as Carbon4PUR. Bringing together 14 partners from seven countries, this project aims to investigate new ways CO₂ can be used in the creation of plastics. Our initial laboratory experiments have already delivered very promising results, and we are now investigating the conditions required for industrial production.

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      • Aniline is a crucial material in the chemical industry and is used as a base material for products such as pharmaceuticals, paints, and plastics. At Covestro, we use aniline for the production of MDI, a vital component of insulation foams.

        Together with our partners, we have achieved a scientific breakthrough in the production of aniline: For the first time ever, aniline can be sourced from 100% organic materials. Until recently, aniline could only be derived from crude oil, but now, organic aniline allows manufacturers to improve their carbon footprint and fight climate change. Additionally, extending the available resource base helps manufacturers be less dependent on market fluctuations. The production of organic aniline does not compete with food production because the technology uses unrefined raw sugar, which is renewable and already available on an industrial scale from resources like feed corn, straw, and wood.

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      • Our innovative formulations set standards in the cosmetics industry. Many cosmetic formulators are faced with choosing between high-performance and natural ingredients. But we’re working to change that. In hairstyling formulations, our Baycusan® eco E 1000 – an organically based polyurethane film-forming substance – performs just as well as synthetic products, offering a long-lasting hold, moisture resistance and washability. The Baycusan® range also brings benefits to other cosmetic products, such as sunscreen. Today, consumers all around the world are demanding eco-friendly sun care, and Baycusan® makes these formulations possible, minimizing the impact of sunscreen on the marine ecosystem while still offering the same great protection.

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      Sustainability concerns society as a whole. That’s why Covestro teams up with partners in various industries to achieve true environmental breakthroughs.

      More Sustainability for Our Partners and Customers

      Sustainability for our partners and customers.

      Our dedication to sustainability doesn’t end at our factory gates. We put great emphasis on sustainability throughout the entire life cycle of our products and technologies. This commitment begins with our ambitious supplier management, which ensures the way we conduct business with our suppliers is in line with our environmental, social, and ethical standards.

      We also facilitate more sustainable processes for our customers and partners. We make supply management and further processing sustainable. And at the end of the day, it’s our products that save resources and protect our environment in countless applications.

      Sustainability Along the Value Chain

      • At Covestro, we don’t just optimize our manufacturing sites around the world. We supply our global customer base with solutions that help them make their own production processes more resource efficient and sustainable. One example of this principle is INSQIN®, our coating technology for high-quality polyurethane-based textiles. Avoiding all ecologically harmful solvents, INSQIN® enables our partners in the fashion industry to reduce their water consumption during textile processing by up to 95 percent and energy consumption by up to 50 percent.

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      • Many of our materials require a significant amount of energy to manufacture. But when you consider these materials’ CO₂ balance over their entire life cycle, their sustainable potential becomes clear.

        Take, for example, Baytherm® Microcell – our rigid polyurethane foam insulating system. For decades, rigid polyurethane foam has efficiently insulated refrigerators, saving energy while preserving food, but our new insulating system Baytherm® Microcell goes a step further. With a pore size that's 40 percent smaller than standard foam solutions, Baytherm® Microcell significantly decreases the energy consumption of refrigerators.

        Another example: Polycarbonates for the manufacturing of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Due to their low energy consumption, low maintenance, and long service life, LEDs are considered to be the lighting system of the future. Our polycarbonates offer unique weight and design possibilities for LED lamps, enabling a wider range of applications.

      We are committed to reducing its specific greenhouse-gas emissions by 50 percent between 2005 and 2025. By 2016, we already achieved a reduction of over 40 percent from 2005.

      Progress That Counts

      • In 2016, we strengthened our corporate strategy’s focus on sustainable development and laid out measurable targets for 2025. As part of this strategy, we’re working to cut our carbon emissions in half, assist underserved sectors, and help achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (SDGs). Over the next five years, our aim is for at least ten million people to benefit from our products and solutions, especially in developing and emerging economies.

      • Sustainability for our partners and customers.

        At Covestro, we’re committed to doing our part to end the flow of plastic into the environment. But plastic pollution is an issue of global proportions in need of collection action to be solved. That’s why we’ve partnered with over 30 global companies to co-found the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a non-profit organization dedicated to turning the tide on plastic pollution. Over the next five years, the Alliance members aim to invest $1.5 billion in developing, deploying and bringing to scale solutions to reduce, reuse, and recover plastic waste.

        But this isn’t the only way we’re working to combat plastic waste. We are also part of the global initiative Operation Clean Sweep, which aims to prevent plastic pellets from entering the environment during production and shipment. Additionally, we are committed to educating our future generations on managing waste. In Taiwan, for example, we published a children’s book that teaches children how to treat plastic waste responsibly and reached more than 20,000 children.

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      Stories that push boundaries

      Follow the links below and learn more about our commitment to make the world a brighter place.
      Covestro helps to make wind power more economical.
      Covestro is transforming CO2 into a useful raw material.
      Covestro materials open new horizons – in the air and on the ground.
      An overview of all highlight stories.
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