Leaving aside the usual generalizations, what does sustainability mean to you as the coo of clariant?
We at Clariant realized the importance and commercial significance of sustainability for the specialty chemical industry at an early stage and this is paying off now at the latest. The European Green Deal, the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement and China’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2060 will boost innovation, which will be both a challenge and a major opportunity for companies like us. We must develop distinctive new products and services which can help our customers to overcome the challenges associated with sustainability. This requires a strong focus on innovation, sustainability in supply chains and operational excellence. Clariant holds a very good position in this respect. Increasingly, our tensides are based on biomaterials or organic renewable resources. Our catalysts not only improve our customers’ yields but reduce their carbon footprint at the same time. And our sunliquid® technology converts agricultural waste into climate-neutral biofuels.
We also have ambitious new targets for reducing our CO2 emissions which go far beyond our previous targets. By 2030, we want to achieve a 40 percent reduction in direct greenhouse gas emissions from our own plants (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy (Scope 2) as well as a 14 percent reduction in indirect emissions from the production of procured goods and services (Scope 3). However, our own emission targets are just one side of the coin. It’s not just about reducing our own footprint but, more importantly, about reducing our customers’ footprints. That’s where our true strength lies.
What’s the strategic significance of your bioethanol production in Podari, Romania, in this respect?
In order to achieve the targets defined in the Paris Agreement, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut dramatically. A major role in this will be played by the transport sector, which accounts for more than 25 percent of global CO2 emissions. In Europe alone, it is assumed that current political targets will result in annual demand of 5 to 10 million metric tons of innovative biofuels by 2030, which would require a substantial increase in current production capacities. At our new Podari site, we can produce up to 50,000 metric tons of cellulose ethanol from more than 250,000 metric tons of cereal straw each year using our sunliquid® technology. This second-generation biofuel, which can be added to conventional fuels to produce E10, is characterized by its firstclass climate balance. A sunliquid® plant as large as the one in Podari can help cut annual CO2 emissions by some 120,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to the amount produced by around 35,000 cars. E10 (10 percent ethanol content) is already available in many European countries.
Why have you chosen GETEC to supply energy at the Podari site?
First of all, GETEC is a very reliable partner. Sustainable operations are increasingly important to us and we are strengthening our focus on sustainable production as a key driver in reducing costs. The goal here is not only to increase yields and reduce emissions but also to lower energy consumption. Our demonstration plant in Straubing had already shown that the sunliquid® process is self-sufficient in terms of energy, so it was a logical step to look for an efficient energy solution for our first industrial-scale bioethanol plant.
The sunliquid® process produces bioethanol from cereal straw, which is an agricultural waste product. GETEC uses lignin, a residual product from this process, to generate energy, supplying the entire Podari site with heat and electricity. We benefit from the fact that GETEC is one of the technology leaders in this field. This zero-impact production concept is very sustainable, efficient and innovative. Our two companies have been honored jointly for this with the German Energy Agency’s Energy Efficiency Award.
Are there other examples of collaboration between CLARIANT and GETEC?
At the end of 2018, GETEC acquired Infrapark Baselland AG in Muttenz, Switzerland, which was previously a wholly owned subsidiary of Clariant. Since then, a production plant operated by our Additives Business Unit as well as other Clariant companies have been tenants at the chemicals and life science park, which now operates as GETEC PARC.SWISS AG. Alongside energy and other production resources, we procure services such as waste water treatment, waste disposal, quality control, logistics and engineering for our additives plant. GETEC also provides the companies at the site with medical services, security, fire services and catering. Our collaboration with GETEC is constructive and forward-looking. Like GETEC, which has already announced investments in the further expansion of automation and digitalization at the industrial park, we will continue investing in our additives plant.
CLARIANT and GETEC were established at around the same time, CLARIANT as the spin-off from a large corporate group and GETEC as a start-up launched by an entrepreneur. What can be expected from your future collaboration?
Suppliers and partner companies are crucial to value creation at Clariant and have a substantial impact on the company’s sustainability performance. That’s why we are pleased to place our trust in partners such as GETEC which, like Clariant, have the goal of supporting their customers with innovative solutions to achieve sustainability targets.