President and Managing Director, Evonik India
Chemical Industry Digest (CID): Sustainability means many things to many people. It could be resource efficiency, avoiding or minimizing bad effects on the environment of any material or product or emissions from manufacturing processes. Some link it with CSR activities too. Can we get some clarity on this along with what the benchmarks are if any for sustainable manufacturing in the chemical industry?
Sanjeev Taneja (ST): Today in the chemical industry sustainability is closely linked with corporate strategy and it is an important element of responsible business. At Evonik, sustainability is a growth driver for many of our businesses. We defined six areas of action based on balanced management of economic, ecological and social factors. These six areas are: strategy & growth, governance &compliance, employees, value chain & products, environment & safety. Our responsibility ex- tends along the entire value chain from upstream within the supply chain and right through to downstream by enabling customers to reduce their ecological footprints.
CID: Many materials/products that are being used now are not satisfying the sustainability criteria. What should companies do to green existing products or replace them totally with more benign and environmentally friendly materials/products? Should companies revisit their existing product portfolios and even their manufacturing processes to reorient them towards sustainability requirements? What do you practice?
ST: It’s good that you have put this question. We constantly visit our product portfolio and our manufacturing processes. We are well-known for our culture of innovation which is geared more and more towards
Our innovation unit, Creavis, manages its
portfolio using the Idea-to-People-Planet-Profit (I2P3) process. Each strategic research project is assessed on the basis of environmental influences (planet) and societal aspects (people) as well as economic criteria (profit). I2P3 was developed jointly by our strategic research, the Life Cycle Management group, and the Innovation Excellence group, with external support from the renowned Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
sustainability. Our sustainable innovation work covers six growth fields: Sustainable Nutrition, Healthcare Solutions, Advanced Food Ingredients, Membranes, Cosmetic Solutions and Additive Manufacturing. For example at Evonik we are establishing additional products and services for sustainable nutrition of livestock and people.
CID: The World Environment Day this year on 5th June had the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. As you are aware a large part of the primary basic petrochemicals is converted into plastics or polymers which are non-biodegradable and creating mammoth pollution of our seas, rivers and land. Would you agree that from the sustainability perspective plastics was a ‘bad’ material ab initio and would this also be the inadequacy of chemistry not to have foreseen the consequences?
ST: We take this issue seriously. However, all plastics are not bad. Evonik has been observing the zero pellet loss campaign of the European Plastics Association whereby we ensure that pellet loss is minimized in production, processing and transportation. Micro-plastics as you know is a major hazard and we have been offering substitutes for this, mainly specialty silicas for personal care products.
CID: When it comes to the development of entirely new products/materials do you employ principles of sus- tainability ab initio? Are such principles & practices employed in your R&D? Do you feel the global public pressures towards cleaner environment & sustainability would give an impetus to R&D?
ST: More value, less resource is our credo.
Our market-oriented R&D plays a key role in improving the ecological footprint of our customers still further and differentiating us from our global competitors. We are therefore increasingly focusing our innovation pipeline on products for applications that make efficient and environmentally compatible use of resources.
Our innovation unit, Creavis, manages its portfolio using the Idea-to-People-Planet-Profit (I2P3) process. Each strategic research project is assessed on the basis of environmental influences (planet) and societal aspects (people) as well as economic criteria (profit). I2P3 was developed jointly by our strategic research, the Life Cycle Management group, and the Innovation Excellence group, with external support from the renowned Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
CID: End of the pipe treatment means not good chemistry; minimizing deleterious effect of environment is another approach; Recycling & reuse is being adopted in some cases and cradle to cradle/circular economy are being touted. What would be the most practical approach – in the short term and what is required to be done in the long term?
ST: We believe that whatever we do in one area should not create problems in other areas. We have created products with cradle to cradle certification. Evonik observes the tenets of the ‘Circular Economy’ with an internal expert group to drive this approach forward.
CID: Another major problem is that of climate change, global warming due to emissions of greenhouse gases. This
can be mitigated by manufacturing processes shifting to low carbon or no carbon load on environment. Are R&D efforts moving in this direction? Can a shift to renewable feedstocks from petro feedstocks help? In your manufacturing are you trying to reduce the carbon load of your processes?
ST: Our activities are geared to keep our environmental footprint small by continuously improving our own environmental protection performance and innovating climate-friendly products. One example is a new efficient process for producing methyl methacrylate that reduces carbon emissions by upto 40 percent.
Another example is the Rheticus project where Evonik alongwith Siemens is planning to use electricity from renewable sources and bacteria to convert CO
2 into specialty chemicals. In this joint research project we are working on electrolysis and formulation processes which have great potential to produce a broad variety of specialty chemicals.
CID: Can you give some examples/achievements of your company’s efforts on the sustainability front?
ST: Some of our achievements to provide innovative solutions based on sustainability are outlined below:
Evonik’s technology converts organic waste into green energy. Using its innovative membrane technology, biogas which is released during the wastewater treatment process or the anaerobic digestion process of household waste for example can be upgraded simply and efficiently to pure bio methane and fed directly into the natural gas grid or used as biofuel. Evonik has:
SEPURAN Green for upgrading biogas to bio
® ❍ methane SEPURAN Noble for energy efficient helium re
® ❍ covery from source gas
SEPURAN N for energy efficient nitrogen genera® ❍
2 tion from air
Membranes - Polyimide membrane modules for efficient and energy-saving gas separation, tailoring selectivity and permeability exactly to the specific application.
To meet the increasing demand for healthy and nutritious fish, Evonik is supporting the aquaculture industry with a set of innovative solutions. Evonik can build on the experience in the production of essential amino acids from over 60 years.
Silica & silanes for “green tire” - The Green Tire with lower rolling resistance reduces fuel consumption and CO emissions by up to 8%, compared to con
2 ventional automobile tires. Safety is improved due to reduced braking distance on wet roads.
Silica and Functional silanes to protect buildings. High Performance Polymers for lightweight applications or 3D-printing. Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) enables new design freedom, light weight components, rapid prototyping and more efficient spare parts logistics.
Around 50 percent of the sales generated by Evonik’s chemical segments already come from products that make a measurable contribution to improving resource efficiency in the use phase.
Evonik has already conducted life cycle analyses of around 70 percent of external sales generated by its three chemical segments as part of the sustainability analysis of its businesses. The aim is to extend this to 80 percent.
Sanjeev Taneja (BSBSc India, Process Engineering Degree - Frankfurt, MBA - USA) is the President and Managing Director of Evonik India.India He has 30 years of experience in various functional areas. Sanjeev started off his professionalsional career...