Covestro on the Road to a Circular EconomyBy Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 10/11/2021 - 09:00
Q: What is Covestro’s approach to the circular economy?
A: Circularity can be achieved by several different processes: a product can be broken down and its materials used for similar processes; products can be decomposed chemically and incorporated into another chain; finally, the energy of the materials can also be used in another process. Covestro views the circular economy from a chemical perspective. Many products will be thrown away at the end of their life cycle but products can be made out of chemicals that are designed to be later incorporated into another value chain.
We achieve circularity through sustainable raw materials and using energy from renewable sources. Our new materials are designed to be used in several products. Polymers and plastics are precious materials because they require significant technology and energy resources.
We aim to make the world a better place and we believe that sustainability is the only way to do business in the future. Covestro also has a global aniline production line that uses timber scrap or other biomass products. In some raw material production, we take CO2 from the air to manufacture polyurethane. Our plant in Spain requires 30 percent less energy to produce chlorine than regular procedures.
Q: What are Covestro’s R&D priorities regarding sustainability?
A: Thanks to science, we can enjoy the quality of life we have now. R&D is the basis for all innovation and in 2020, we invested more than €$260 million (US$305 million) in R&D. By 2025, at least 80 percent of our investment in R&D will focus on sustainable solutions aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals. We cannot achieve a sustainable world alone. We need to work alongside our suppliers, clients, end-consumers and government to build a more sustainable world.
Q: How is Covestro supporting OEM’s carbon neutrality goals?
A: Covestro has proven to be a cutting-edge company in material technology. We are fully convinced that the entire sector should drive the change together. Covestro is present in many parts of the vehicle, particularly in temperature and sound isolation. Thermal isolation brings several benefits, including less use of fuel for heating or cooling. Covestro has lighter polycarbonates used in vehicle lights, which helps to lower fuel consumption. Our coatings use water-based paints and we have achieved better operational efficiency in our painting processes. Covestro manufactures materials that support EV batteries, which involve many thermal management products that allow the battery to perform in optimal conditions. Each one of our solutions provides a benefit. When these are combined, they support more sustainable practices.
Q: How did the pandemic influence Covestro’s operations?
A: COVID-19 proved that remote work is possible. Technology helped us significantly; the pandemic would have hit differently 10 years ago. Companies are working now based on results, rather than hours. Our technological infrastructure made our transition smoother.
The pandemic, however, delayed our planned expansion in the State of Mexico. This expansion will allow us to boost production and better serve our clients in the country. The production increase at our facility in Santa Clara, State of Mexico, will also focus on sustainable processes.
Q: How is Covestro making its operations more sustainable?
A: We are starting to use energy from renewable sources. In the short term, 30 percent of the electricity used by this plant will come from renewable sources. In the midterm, 100 percent will come from renewable sources.
All our motors use up to 30 percent less energy. Chemical processes can be exothermic or endothermic. The latter requires more energy to maintain so we have chosen to use only exothermic processes.
Q: What opportunities does USMCA provide to Covestro?
A: USMCA sets clear rules for the region and provides opportunities for companies in North America. Covestro complies with all the standards set by the treaty. We believe that supply chains spread among the three countries are more intertwined than before, which is strengthening the sector’s capabilities.
Covestro develops material science applications for a wide variety of sectors, including industrial, automotive and aerospace. It was part of Bayer AG and has a manufacturing facility in the State of Mexico.