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We are pushing the limits of our comfort zone for sustainability-inspired growth.

It is not yet too late. We are almost a third of the way towards the deadline for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and there is still a lot to do by 2030. Who will rise to the challenge? Who is ready to leave their comfort zone and take responsibility? The UN? Governments? NGOs? Businesses? The others? Us?

The answer, of course, is: all of us! We will need all available resources. Nobody alone can win the fight against poverty, inequality, and climate change.

The foundation for this joint effort was laid in 2015. With the broad participation of companies and civil society, the 193 countries of the United Nations adopted the Agenda 2030. At its heart are 17 common, global sustainability goals that the world community was able to agree on for the first time.

Here at Covestro we have asked ourselves what we can do. How can we contribute as a manufacturer of high-tech materials used in many areas of life? What can our 16,200 employees at 30 international locations do? How can we include our partners and customers? Our strategy provides the answer: we want to make a comprehensive global contribution towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To that we are ready to leave our comfort zone and combine innovation and growth to achieve sustainable development.

You can’t feel comfortable leaving your comfort zone. Why not?

Baratunde Thurston meets people who are pursuing this strategy with us. Whether ecological, economic or social in nature, whether aiming at achieving one or several goals, all activities have one thing in common: they are lighthouse projects that inspire us and spread optimism.

About Baratunde Thurston

He calls himself an “activist” and is the author of the bestseller “How To Be Black”. Baratunde Thurston has been involved in sustainable development for a long time. He is engaged in a wide range of social projects extending from technology and experiential learning all the way to culture and journalism. Many people are familiar with his work for Fast Company, TED, the MIT Media Lab or the satirical magazine The Onion.



“Comfort zones always make you too content. Try to come out of our comfort zone and do something. Be creative and innovative. Everyone has the potential to achieve something.”

Dr. Renganathan

Dr. Renganathan on the fruits of success

Fighting poverty with polycarbonate and solar power

At first glance they might look like conventional greenhouses. But the five solar dryers made of polycarbonate which stand by the side of the road just outside the town of Krishnagiri are sophisticated specialized facilities for drying fruit and vegetables. Solar cells supply the ventilators with cheap, ecofriendly power. The polycarbonate allows the sun’s rays to pass through but filters out UV light. This allows the fruit to retain most of its nutrients and its natural color. It also makes it last longer. “In two or three days you have a high-quality product that can be packed right here on site,” explains Dr. Renganathan.

Dried fruit generates more cash liquidity

That is the simplest way of summing up the “solar dryer” concept. Farmers only used to be able to sell whatever happened to be in demand on the market. Most of their harvest did not find a buyer and would go to waste. Products become more durable when they are dried. Drying also achieves a value increase of up to 3,000 percent. This makes farmers more independent and that in turn profits their families and the village communities. When the farmers are better off, they employ more field workers and jobs are created in the solar dryers as well. We have provided material for more than 1,200 small solar dryers in India alone as well as 200 solar dryers of greenhouse size and more than 80 solar powered refrigerators. Each of these is a lighthouse project belonging to our “Inclusive Business” initiative, which aims to assist low-income regions. Working with our partners on location – such as customers, governments and NGOs – we develop affordable technologies and products with whose help we can combat poverty, hunger and inequality.

About Dr. Renganathan

“Why don’t you enjoy what you have? Why do you waste your money on farming?” Dr. Renganathan does not always find it easy to explain his second job as an organic farmer to his grown-up children. As his primary profession, the gynecologist runs a clinic with 100 beds in southern India. Together with his wife, who is also a doctor, the 61-year-old has built up a considerable business. But he does not think much of resting in his comfort zone. Instead he wants to show the farmers of his home region new, ecofriendly ways of doing business. This he does on his organic farm and as a co-owner of the company MCI Agro Industries. To be precise, he has two second jobs. The second of the second is the solar dryers, in which fruits, vegetables and moringa leaves are dried. One day, Dr. Renganathan believes, he will be able to convince his children of the benefits of his other work.

Recycling

The polycarbonate used in the solar dryers is recyclable. After the recycling process, polycarbonate sheets are returned to the production process in the form of granulate. Of course, we also thought about the orange cushions used in our interviews. As a “mobile comfort zone” they end up at the headquarter of Covestro and serve as seats during cosy work breaks and events. After being used for as long as possible, they will be recycled in a controlled manner.

Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Solar dryers contribute to achieving the following SDGs:

  • Ending poverty in all forms and everywhere (SDG No. 1)
  • Eradicating hunger (SDG No. 2)
  • Decent work and economic growth (SDG No. 8)
  • Industries, innovation and Infrastructure (SDG No. 9)
  • Reduced Inequalities (SDG No. 10)
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG No. 12)
  • Partnerships for the Goals (SDG No. 17)
“A girl can change her life. A girl can change her family. And a girl can change a nation.”

Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh

Dr. Deshmukh and the dream of equality

Out of the laboratory, into equal opportunities

Normally, Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh works at our laboratory in Mumbai. Late in 2018, she ventured onto the stage of STEM4Girls. Touring through six Indian cities, she spoke to 3,000 enthusiastic girls about the sciences. Dr. Deshmukh was delighted to inspire the girls. But as a scientist, her expectations remain realistic: “If just one percent of the girls can realize their dreams, then I will have achieved a lot,” says the 38-year-old.

The future of science is female

Diversity and equality are a matter of course at all of our facilities. As an employer, we bring different people together with exciting ideas. But we also engage ourselves for equality beyond the limits of our company.

Since 2014 we have been working on the STEM4Girls program together with the Organization “Greenlight for Girls”.

Our mission is to get girls excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In India, this collaboration began with 100 girls in Delhi in 2016. This year, as part of STEM4Girls, our Indian colleagues talked to 3,000 enthusiastic girls in six cities about science themes.

About Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh

Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh is not only a scientist at our lab in Mumbai. She is a co-worker, manager and colleague to others. She is also a wife and mother to two daughters. It is not always easy to reconcile all these roles, but that did not deter her from taking on another one – a role which would take her outside the comfort zone of her laboratory. It would make her a role model for 3,000 girls who have become interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through STEM4Girls. Science remains the domain of men, and not only in India. The traditional comfort zone for girls and women are still the household and the family. Equality is not only one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is a personal mission of Dr. Deshmukh. That is why the 38-year-old tries to convey self-confidence to the girls and encourage them that everything is possible if they believe in themselves.

STEM4Girls around the world

Achieving the UN sustainability goals #4 (Education for All) and #5 (Gender Equality). Inspiring girls for MINT professions. Reducing fears of contact and advocating equal opportunities. The motivation behind our commitment is manifold. Together with international and local partners (e.g. Greenlight for Girls or the German Federal Government), we hold a large number of events each year. From “Girls Day” at our plant in Uerdingen (April 2018) to STEM4Girls events in Sao Paolo (May 2018) and Mexico City (November 2018) to the series of events in India portrayed in our interview. In the spirit of Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh, we are firmly convinced that the girls deserve as much inspiration and support as possible.

Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our collaboration with STEM4Girls helps to achieve several SDGs:

  • End poverty in all its forms (SDG No. 1)
  • Education for everyone (SDG No. 4)
  • Gender equality (SDG No. 5)
  • Decent work and economic growth (SDG No. 8)
  • Sustainable consumption and production (SDG No. 12)
  • Partnerships for the Goals (SDG No. 17)

Stories that push boundaries

Follow the links below and learn more about our commitment to make the world a brighter place.

#PushingBoundaries
An overview of all highlight stories
#InspiredBySustainability
Thanks to Covestro, consumers can make the world a brighter place.
#FreshPerspective
At Covestro, 80 years of experience fuel a fresh perspective and versatile innovations.
#SmartChemistry
Covestro materials make out lives more efficient and comfortable.
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