We laid the cornerstone for these joint efforts back in 2015. The 193 countries of the United Nations enacted Agenda 2030 with broad participation from companies and civil society. The 17 goals derived from the Agenda represent the first time the global community has agreed on common, global sustainability targets.
At Covestro, we have also asked ourselves what we can do. What contribution can we make, as a manufacturer of high-tech materials used in many different applications? How can our 16,200 employees at 30 international locations do their part? How can we get our partners and customers involved?
Societal expectations for sustainable commitment by companies continue to grow. The chemical industry, in particular, plays a vital role in the supply chains of many sectors, since it produces such an immense variety of different products. Products are purchased by consumers themselves, on the one hand, while also serving as interim products for many industries on the other. For this reason, the chemical industry is considered a key industry for sustainable development.
Chemie3 published the “12 Sustainability Guidelines for the German Chemical Industry” back in 2013. These include several measures that are also reflected in the UN Sustainability Goals published in 2015, such as resource and climate protection, sustainable economic growth, social partnerships, corporate environmental and social standards in global supply chains, and measures to fight child and forced labor. Alongside the guidelines, the SDGs create a framework for the German chemical industry.
Covestro consistently integrates these measures into its processes and decisions in order to propel sustainable chemistry with effective innovations. With our sustainable solutions, we are pursuing our goal of being a pioneer in the chemical industry every day. We have already succeeded in doing so in using CO₂ as a raw material. This process allows us to save fossil energy sources such as petroleum and significantly reduce the percentage of carbon dioxide.
As part of our society, we feel obligated to consider and take on current challenges on the global level as well. Covestro worked with over 200 other partners in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to create the SDG Roadmap for the chemical sector. The goal of the roadmap is to encourage partners to identify potential areas of collaboration to improve the impact of the SDG and help achieve sustainability targets. Alongside its partners, the WBCSD is advancing a wide range of different pathways, developing appropriate framework conditions for implementation.
10 SDGs for the chemical sector have been prioritized from the roadmap, in consideration of the complexity and diversity of the sector.
We have already contributed to all 17 UN sustainability goals, and have developed a variety of solutions that help implement them. The following are some examples of the positive, innovative contributions Covestro has made to the Sustainable Development Goals.
We support small-scale farmers in southeastern Asia and India, and help them to stabilize their incomes. We are using our technology to help reduce harvest losses and reduce poverty among those affected by half by the year 2030.
We are supporting over 1,000 farmers in southern India with solar dryers made from our polycarbonate panels. They deliver products they cannot sell on the market to solar system operators, who pay them the market price for the goods. The food is then processed in the solar dryers to create a dry mass that can be used in fruit bars and chocolate. This creates a win-win situation for both sides: crop losses are prevented and the incomes of both farmers are secured.
In addition, we provide micro-cold storage warehouses to farmers. This micro-cold storage solution is designed to counteract post-harvest problems, and equips small-time growers and other stakeholders in the cold chain with solar-operated refrigerated storage systems made out of polyurethane from Covestro. The refrigerated storage warehouses offer optimal conditions for storing their harvest, and increase product durability.
Covestro works closely with customers and with governmental and non-governmental organizations to deliver low-income population groups affordable solutions both now and in the future.
Sustainable Development Goal 2 is focused on ending hunger around the world by 2030. Worldwide, over 793 million people go hungry every day because they do not have the food they need to survive. Besides goal 1, SDG 2 is one of the most important goals for facilitating global, sustainable development. Covestro is working actively with other organizations to end hunger.
Covestro is making significant contributions to the following sub-goals of SDG2, for example:
SDG 2.1: End hunger by 2030, and ensure that all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
We are working with unconventional partners from a variety of sectors (customers, NGOs, social enterprises, governmental institutions and impact investors) to create food security solutions by giving a competitive edge to Asian farmers. Many farmers have already been able to reduce their post-harvest losses, increase their income and improve their basic existence.
SDG 2.3: By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment
70% of malnourished people are dependent on income from agriculture, and Covestro considers promoting agricultural productivity to be a key instrument in reducing hunger. Unfortunately, 30-50% of crops perish before they can be sold due to poor weather conditions or insufficient storage. With our polycarbonate solar dryers, we are helping farmers secure and maximize their income, since drying systems solar dryers minimize food waste. Covestro has already installed 550 solar dryers in Thailand alone.
SDG 2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality
We are providing solar cold storage systems made from our polyurethane material to small-time farmers and other stakeholders in Asia. These help ensure optimal storage and increase durability. They also allow farmers to completely eliminate the use of chemicals. The cold-storage units are solar powered and need no mains connection, making them a sustainable solution as well.
Our materials for medical applications are making a positive contribution to the health and well-being of the population. We offer specialized thermoplastics, foils, TPU, raw materials for adhesives, foams, and more to the medical sector. Our products are used in life-saving medical technologies. Physicians, for instance, use cardiovascular equipment every day to keep patients alive during an operation. Developers and manufacturers of cardiovascular equipment trust in the quality and reliability of biocompatible polycarbonate resins from Covestro.
Our biocompatible MAKROLON®, for instance, is the perfect choice to manufacture complex components such as blood pumps that can be used to pump oxygen-enriched blood through the body during a cardiac operation.
We also develop innovative materials for 3D printing medical devices. We developed an additive manufacturing process in collaboration with a leading manufacturer of insoles that allow the insoles to be manufactured using an efficient, automated, and fully digitized process. The right material is essential to achieving optimal results: our thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Production runs more quickly using the material, meaning orthopedic insoles will be available for more people in the future, at more affordable prices.
As a global company, we are aware of our social responsibility, and social commitment is a key aspect in our pursuit of the UNSDGs.
Teaching the natural sciences remains a major challenge in India. We are working to propel instruction in the natural sciences and promote the subject in Indian schools. This includes subjects such as technology, engineering and math. To achieve this goal, Covestro is establishing “Brighter World Labs” in India (scientific laboratories), offering disadvantaged populations access to high-quality education. In the future, this platform will support over 16,000 children and 100 teachers in India.
In the future, we intend to continue disrupting cultural comfort zones in India and inspiring girls to get into the natural sciences. Most girls in India are told that a woman's success is reflected in her happy household. Marriage and children are considered the ultimate goal, and many young women stop their educational or career pathways before they have fully realized their potential.
We are supporting the initiative STEM4girls (STEM: science, technology, engineering and math) in India. The program teaches natural sciences subjects to Indian girls to create equal opportunities for them in the industry. Events have already been held across India, reaching over 3,000 girls, with the collaboration of Covestro India.
Covestro wants to be a good example in reducing our environmental impact. This is reflected, for instance, in the responsible way we manage our water.
We always try to treat waste water so it can be reused. We are already doing so at 16 locations, for instance by using closed refrigerated water circuits, by reusing treated waste water, or by recovering water condensate as usable water. This allowed us to reuse 3.7 million tons of water in 2017.
The conversion to renewable energy sources demands creative solutions that can compete with non-renewable energy sources, ultimately making sustainable alternatives more competitive.
We continuously pursue the goal of sustainable development with our innovative solutions. Wind power has major possibilities in the global pursuit of sustainability, but having the right materials is essential. Covestro is setting new standards with materials like PU infusion material systems and protective coatings. Our solutions reduce production costs, maximize durability and provide long-lasting protection. We work with customers across the value chain to maximize the efficiency of wind parks and create new wind innovations.
Creating jobs with good working conditions remains a major challenge in many industries, since not all companies are able to offer their employees a safe and stable working environment.
Covestro creates jobs where their employees can feel at home. Fairness and transparency play a central role. Specifically, this means providing financial security, a healthy work-life balance, and attractive social services. We have implemented a large number of standards and processes at our company to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our employees. We believe it is important to offer affordable technologies and products that benefit society and reduce environmental impact. We hire employees with a variety of backgrounds and many different viewpoints to propel innovation.
Covestro has already made a major contribution to changing the world for the better in many areas, and considers innovation to be the foundation of our pursuit of sustainability.
Our material innovations, for instance, are helping us promote the sustainable development of countless products and technologies we use in our everyday lives. Frequently, we are able to replace traditional components to make the overall application more sustainable and efficient. This allows us to position ourselves as an innovative pioneer in the chemical industry into the future as well. One example is a new hardener we developed for automotive paints. Since we obtain the carbon used in the paint from organic, renewable raw materials instead of commonly used fossil fuels, the coating's CO2 footprint is reduced, along with the CO2 footprint of the vehicle as a whole.
Our comprehensive understanding of innovation also includes a focus on customers, and ongoing development of business processes and internal processes as well. Innovation is at the heart of our culture, and we believe that sustainable development is only possible with innovative solutions that offer an answer to problems like climate change.
To ensure sustainable global economic growth, the inequality that exists between different populations must be effectively reduced.
As part of society, Covestro feels obliged to offer the poorer and weaker countries in particular the opportunity for sustainable development. In June 2019, we launched the Brighter Future, Better Vision" campaign with the mission of reducing plastic waste in Thailand. The campaign involves an advanced innovation for converting plastic waste into glasses frames made of recycled polycarbonate. The glasses are then donated to elementary school students in communities in Rayong, to enhance youth education and improve sustainability within the communities.
In order to ensure sustainable development and achieve the goals of the UN Agenda 2030, cities and communities should be designed to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Trends indicate that urbanization will continue to increase through 2050, and that 67% of people will live in cities by that date. This means that we must counteract the increasing number of buildings and energy consumption by using natural resources sustainably in urban development. Covestro can contribute to this goal in a variety of ways, propelling the development of more sustainable cities through its innovative materials.
Cities consume over two thirds of the energy used worldwide, generating over 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. Our mission is to help achieve the goals of Agenda 2030 with innovative solutions for safe, climate-friendly urban life.
Covestro is making an important contribution to sustainable urbanization with a forward-thinking impact on the following sub-goals of SDG 11.
SDG 11.1: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums.
Covestro proves that new construction methods and innovative building materials play a vital role in enhancing the quality of life in our cities. Affordable living space must be created for fair living situations. Covestro is particularly focused on innovations in modular construction. Together with industry partners, governments, government agencies and society, the company is developing models of affordable housing and carrying out specific projects locally. One current example is the “House of Nations,” a multipurpose building that was designed and built by French prefabricated building manufacturer Logelis and Covestro. In the future, this project will create more living space in densely populated areas or cities with large refugee populations.
SDG 11.2: By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, enhancing road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
Fine dust pollution is increasing globally in urban areas, and long commutes are a major challenge, particularly for the populations of in large cities. Covestro is taking on a major and exciting challenge in this area: how can we make every work commute better for people and for the environment as well? By manufacturing innovative plastics for automotive construction, we are already preparing the path to a healthier, smarter future of mobility. We are working hard to create the latest materials for smart, eco-friendly vehicles such as high-tech polymers – a lightweight and aerodynamic alternative to metal and glass. The battery solutions we are developing are making a key contribution to safe and efficient e-vehicles. Realizing the vision of autonomous driving will be one of the most exciting and newest innovations in automotive construction. Our materials help us optimize and expand specialized vehicle designs: from autonomous driving to electro-mobility, from batteries to interiors to car bodies. Seamlessly integrated LiDAR sensors, radar and cameras ensure safe and intelligent coordination in our electric vehicles in traffic. LED matrix displays facilitate communication with pedestrians. These and other smart automotive solutions will make traffic more safe and climate-neutral in the future. This is a win-win situation for all of us in achieving sustainability goals.
SDG 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.
At Covestro, we believe that the future of cities will be a smart one. Many networked and innovative automation processes, like networking vehicles and street lamps and expanding 5G, require a large amount of energy. We want to make a vital, sustainable contribution to achieving these goals: we are using innovative raw materials to redesign the future of energy, and supporting wind turbine system manufacturers in using wind power efficiently to derive renewable energy for our future cities. Materials like PU infusion resin systems and corrosion protection paint can result in lower manufacturing costs, maximum durability and long-lasting protection for rotor blades. We are also continuously enhancing the performance of our new battery housings. With these materials, we are scaling up the possibilities of affordable, powerful wind energy technologies, promoting energy innovation in a sustainable, cost-efficient manner.
It is essential that the world’s population convert to sustainable consumption and natural resource conservation, in order to stabilize international ecosystems for the long term. Because of this, UNO sustainability goal 12 promotes more sustainable industrial practices like ecological and sustainable production patterns and more eco-friendly chemical disposal. Reducing and recycling waste materials, conscious consumption and sustainable production patterns play a key role in the SDG sub-goals. To create sustainable global consciousness, developing countries in particular must be supported with scientific and technological resources. Production and supply chains must also be optimized to reduce global food waste in consumption and to counteract post-harvest losses.
In order to help achieve UN SDG 12 and its individual sub-goals, Covestro takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability that covers the entire product life cycle, production patterns, and sustainable consumption in consideration of social, ecological and economic aspects.
Covestro is making significant contributions to the following sub-goals of SDG 12, for example:
SDG 12.2: By 2030, achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
Conserving natural resources is a high priority for our company. Because of this, we use alternative resources to supply the key element carbon. Our innovative CO₂ technology replaces the crude oil normally used to manufacture polyurethane materials, for instance in mattresses, with CO₂. This minimizes emissions and facilitates the establishment of ecologically cleaner manufacturing processes worldwide.
SDG 12.3: By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
Installing solar dryers in India and various ASEAN countries to preserve food is part of Covestro's “Inclusive Business” approach. Our goal is to support local economic development, reduce poverty and support social progress by integrating low-income communities into the supply chain. In addition, Covestro has integrated a four-stage process into the supply chain (create awareness, select suppliers, evaluate sustainability performance and develop suppliers) to enhance our sustainability practices.
SDG 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
Covestro is working continuously to ensure environmentally conscious chemical management for sustainable development. Our innovative gas phase technology is an ecological breakthrough, allowing us to save 60 percent of the energy used in the production pattern. The key to this pioneering success are the two chemicals toluenediamine (TDA) and phosgene, which react in their gaseous states. The reaction delivers outstanding process yields without any solvents, in contrast to traditional processes. The technology can be used, for instance, in generating the isocyanate toluene diisocyanate (TDI), which is used to manufacture soft polyurethane foam.
SDG 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.
Plastics recycling is one of the world's greatest challenges. To meet this challenge, Covestro is developing a specialized process that will be used for chemical recycling, converting used plastic into its individual molecules. By doing so, we are making a major contribution to reducing plastic packaging, a key source of oceanic pollution. In addition, waste produced in our manufacturing processes with a high heating value is burned to generate steam for our production systems.
SDG 12.6: Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
To underscore our understanding of ourselves as a sustainable company, we have adopted the “UN Global Compact” and its internationally recognized principles, and report regularly on our progress. In addition, we are part of the “Responsible Care” industry initiative, and take part in global sustainability forums.
Our sustainability reporting is based on accepted standards. We report on key topics and non-financial performance indicators in our group management report, adding further content to this information in accordance with the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
SDG 12.A: Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
Alongside our customers and both governmental and non-governmental organizations, we are developing affordable solutions based on our technologies and products to benefit underserved populations and regions through the Covestro initiative “Inclusive Business”. Our employees are focusing on the three regions of India, southeast Asia, and eastern and southern Africa, and are working to enhance the living conditions for disadvantaged, mainly low-income people groups. We focus on implementing modern, innovative solutions in the areas of “Creating affordable housing,” “Securing food supplies” and “Water and sanitation.”
Covestro's processes consume huge quantities of energy, so we are always working to increase our efficiency and reduce our environmental impact. As part of meeting this challenge, we develop sustainable concepts to promote environmentally-friendly production.
Soft foam is used in many everyday products such as mattresses and soft furniture. Currently, manufacturing basic chemical materials requires extremely high energy consumption. However, Covestro has created gas phase technology that saves 60 percent of the energy used in that production.
Plastics help improve humanity's living conditions in many areas, such as in the medical sector. However, plastics also create an extremely large amount of environmental pollution, so that plastic waste has become one of the world’s greatest environmental problems in recent years. According to estimates, 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year.
Global action is needed to prevent the dangers emerging for underwater life. Because of this, we have teamed up with 30 companies from all over the world to found the charitable organization The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). Together, we are focusing on developing, delivering and scaling solutions to reduce, recycle and reuse plastic waste
Covestro Taiwan is also working closely with all of the country's national parks and five national museums to teach children about waste management from an early age. Storytelling projects in the form of picture books and apps are designed to reach and increase awareness among school children living in coastal areas, where the problem is most apparent.
Our primary contribution to the goal of “Life on land” are preventative measures, through which we support the protection, restoration and sustainable use of inland waterways and terrestrial ecosystems.
We measure and manage our environmental impacts and dependencies. This includes our work to reduce the negative impacts that some of our products can have on ecosystems and biological diversity, by improving product recipes and product designs and by managing such products in downstream sectors. We directly reduce their impacts on the land and on other natural resources through better operational management, in order to stop environmental destruction and protect critical ecosystems.
This goal is an important framework condition for implementing all of the other UN sustainability goals within the Agenda.
In order to achieve SDG 16, we promote the application of our corporate principles and high standards across our entire value chain. Specifically, this impacts areas like personnel, safety, the environment, and human rights. We manage our companies in an ethical, responsible manner and in compliance with legal and official requirements in the countries where we work. Based on Covestro's global corporate focus, it is important that we not only act and produce in a sustainable manner ourselves, but that our suppliers and external partners also meet our standards as well. Our whistleblowing tool is designed to help detect and prevent compliance violations.
Partnerships and joint solutions are essential to achieve the UN goals by 2030. It is important to unite, support one another and learn from each other - strength is based on common action.
Covestro's internal research and innovation activities are complemented by an international network of partnerships with leading universities, institutions and companies. This allows us to quickly implement promising new ideas in successful projects. We work with many different universities, colleges and institutes across five continents.
We founded the organization The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, for instance, alongside over 30 global partners, in order to fight environmental pollution by plastic waste worldwide. Another example of successful collaboration with our partners is our joint project for plastic materials cycles. Covestro has developed a blockchain technology together with polyamide provider DOMO and materials manufacturer Circularise to elevate transparency and circularity in the plastic industry to a new level.
For us, collaboration and open innovation also mean promoting external research, and awarding good performance. This is why we created the Covestro Service Award for outstanding research performance in the area of materials based on chemicals.
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. Together, we are leaving our comfort zones and meeting the challenges necessary to achieve the UN sustainability goals. 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.
Covestro has identified six basic principles around which we base all of our actions and our thinking. These basic principles help us anchor sustainability as an essential component of our corporate action:
We pursue our corporate vision and mission based on these values, and all of our other internal guidelines are derived from them. In addition, we commit to sustainability in our mission statement: “Finding ways to help implement the UN sustainable development goals.” This goal is the basis for integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG report) into our management system, and supports comprehensive sustainable development. The principles and the charter we have signed are obligatory for all of our employees worldwide. We expect our partners to fulfill the same high sustainability standards we have placed on ourselves.
In this time of change, Covestro believes that consistently implementing the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) is particularly important. We want to take action! Through our HSEQ, HR, product safety and compliance standards, our energy efficiency programs, water risk and waste management activities, innovations and ongoing technical improvements at our production locations, we are helping to implement the UN sustainable development goals in our direct area of influence. Our sustainability management not only promotes the development of customer-oriented products, it also lessens environmental impact through resource-conserving, low-emission production. This allows us to generate economic value at the same time. Our group guidelines integrate concrete specifications on key sustainability topics. We then implement our sustainability strategy based on these guidelines.
Implementation of our five targets is firmly anchored in the requirements of the UN sustainable development goals, and we plan to achieve these targets by 2025 as follows:
It is particularly important for large companies like Covestro to take advantage of economic opportunities and minimize risks through the SDG indicators. The UN Global Compact sees global targets primarily as a tool for helping companies understand the expectations of stakeholders, particularly in the political realm. The following five changes to the Sustainable Development Goals, in contrast to the Development Goals from the last millennium, are particularly relevant for companies:
In relation to SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production – Covestro is a global pioneer in achieving sub-goal SDG 12.6.
SDG 12.6: Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
To achieve this sub-goal within our company, we must first significantly expand our business model. Covestro considers itself to be an important stakeholder in this process within the chemical sector, and has the potential to promote groundbreaking innovations.
We feel that the recommendations of the TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) are a useful addition to our previous reporting, in particular because of the forward-thinking elements these recommendations contain. They focus on disclosing the financial risks companies are exposed to due to climate change, as well as corporate opportunities to grow through comprehensive approaches. We have integrated core areas recommended by the TCFD such as corporate governance, strategy, risk management, as well as key figures and targets into our 2019 Covestro management report in the following categories:
The management report and sustainability information in the GRI supplement together make up our annual sustainability reporting. At Covestro, we base our sustainability reporting on international principles and recommendations, for instance to define and select non-financial indicators and report on these. We carry out sustainability reporting in accordance with the “core” option of the standard guidelines (Sustainability Reporting Standard, SRS) of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).