By 2025 the specialty chemicals group Altana will reduce its CO2 impact from production and energy procurement worldwide to zero. Already in 2020, the company’s entire power supply will be converted to renewable energies. Altana will compensate for the unavoidable use of natural gas until 2025 by financing equivalent climate protection projects in the regions where CO2 emissions are generated. The same applies to offsetting CO2 emissions arising from necessary business trips, company cars, and the transport of goods. The specialty chemicals group will thus achieve climate neutrality in its direct sphere of influence by 2025.
“We want to leave our footprint on innovations, not on emissions,” said Martin Babilas, CEO of Altana AG, explaining the decision. “With our CO2 neutrality program up to 2025, we are fulfilling our responsibility for climate protection and consistently pursuing our sustainability course.” In 2017, Altana had already achieved the goal it set itself in 2007 of reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent in relation to gross value added by 2020.
In order to further reduce its CO2 emissions, Altana is relying on greater energy efficiency as well as heat and electricity generation at its worldwide sites. In the long term, renewable energies should also replace natural gas as a source of energy. In addition to the existing solar systems at Elantas in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, and at BYK in Deventer, the Netherlands, a further photovoltaic system went into operation at Elantas in Pune, India, which covers the electricity requirements of the new research center at this site. In Collecchio, Italy, Elantas is currently constructing another photovoltaic system for a new production and laboratory building.
Aside from the measures at its own sites, Altana is setting up a program in close cooperation with its suppliers to consistently further improve the CO2 balance of purchased raw materials, too. This makes Altana one of the companies that consider the CO2 emissions of their entire value chain.
“Industry must create the facts, politics the framework”
According to Altana CEO Babilas, industry plays a decisive role in driving forward global climate protection. “The more companies that commit themselves to climate neutrality and create the relevant facts, the faster we can achieve the Paris climate protection targets.” However, he added, policymakers should create an indispensable framework for this. The climate protection targets cannot be achieved without sufficient electricity from renewable energies at competitive prices and the corresponding grid infrastructure. Based on current calculations by the VCI, the German Chemical Industry Association, the annual electricity needs of the German chemical industry on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 will increase to more than eleven times the current value (628 TWh compared to 54 TWh today).
"We are therefore calling on policymakers to promote renewable energies much more strongly and swiftly. Incentives must be created to ensure that sufficient electricity and heat capacities from CO2 neutral sources will continue to be available in the future,” says Babilas. “New procedures must be accelerated by public subsidies and barriers to use and own production must be eliminated. Furthermore, policymakers should create comparable competitive conditions for the industry with internationally uniform CO2 pricing,” he adds.
Innovations for climate protection
Altana has been a member of the UN Global Compact initiative for responsible and sustainable corporate management since 2010. At the Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries had agreed on a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C to combat dangerous climate change.
Altana's corporate goals for environmental and climate protection have been factored into the calculation of the variable income of top management since 2007. The goal of climate neutrality by 2025 that has now been formulated will also be integrated into the individual target agreements.
“Our decades of experience in researching and developing innovative solutions that contribute to sustainability will benefit us in the implementation of our climate protection target,” emphasizes Martin Babilas.
Wire enamels from Altana’s Elantas division, for example, are increasingly being used in electric vehicles and extend their service life. BYK offers a solution for the recycling of polypropylene in car batteries, which was previously not recyclable. An aluminum pigment in wall paints developed by the Eckart division ensures that up to 50 percent of the heat is radiated back from the walls into the room. A PVC-free seal from the Actega division helps beverage bottlers save 10,000 tons of steel for their crown caps. This corresponds to the weight of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.