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TAG overview

Sustainable product design

Respect for the environment is at the heart of sustainable conduct. We see it as our duty to not only conserve resources when developing our own products, but to also help our customers increase the sustainability of theirs. Our Life Science business sector develops solutions to make research and biotech production simpler, faster and more efficient, while our Performance Materials business sector focuses on solutions for the electronics market, for example semiconductor or display materials.

Our approach to sustainable product design

Our individual business sectors take different approaches to sustainable product design. In our Life Science business sector, we aim to reduce any adverse impact of our products on health and the environment. This applies to the entire life cycle, from manufacture and use to disposal. At the same time, we seek to make our products more efficient and user-friendly, asking ourselves right at the start of product development how to best reconcile these requirements.

Our Performance Materials business sector develops and produces numerous smart materials that help our customers manufacture high-tech products. Many of these materials allow people to save energy in their everyday lives. The avoidance of highly hazardous materials where possible is a principle that is embedded in our product development process. Working with our customers, we support their efforts to continue advancing technology innovation while at the same time employing products with minimum environmental impact.

How we include sustainability in product design

The Life Science business sector works across its business units to drive product-related sustainability. This includes our Design for Sustainability (DfS) program for environmentally sound Life Science products as well as DOZN™, a web-based tool for assessing more sustainable alternatives.

In 2020, we started the process of restructuring the sustainability governance of our Performance Materials business. We will provide information on the new structure in future reports.

The responsibilities described here also apply to product packaging and recycling.

Integration of Versum Materials

We achieved several implementation milestones with respect to the integration of Versum Materials in 2020. On June 1, we announced the completion of the integration of the Human Resources processes. The next phase will focus on the structural integration of business processes and systems. This is due to be completed by the end of 2021.

Our commitment: Chemicals and product policies

In order to meet the product safety regulations relevant to our company, our Regulatory Affairs Group Policy details Group-wide processes for managing and implementing product safety, including the necessary management structures.

Our processes for sustainable product design

Within our Life Science business sector, a strategic platform founded on a data-driven approach helps our experts to drive sustainability improvement during the development of products and packaging. Our Design for Sustainability (DfS) program, a comprehensive approach to increasing the sustainability of our products, focuses on three areas:

  • Our DfS: Development pillar focuses on embedding sustainability at the beginning of the R&D process.
  • Our DfS: Consulting pillar focuses on working with our customers to solve specific sustainability and/or Green Chemistry challenges they face.
  • Our DfS: Re-Engineering pillar focuses on our established portfolio of products and on looking at how we can improve the environmental footprint of these products by applying the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry in our process. We then use our proprietary web-based tool DOZN™ to assess the improvements. We have now expanded the use of this tool to our customers to aid them in assessing their own products and processes.

Within our Performance Materials business sector, our raw materials for the cosmetics industry meet the high standards of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and are produced in line with Good Manufacturing Practices for Cosmetic Ingredients (EFfCI ).

Ensuring business continuity during the pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our sites were fully committed to ensuring business continuity while protecting the health and safety of our employees.

The Performance Materials site in Suzhou was our first factory in China to restart operations after the Covid-19 outbreak. It resumed production on January 29, 2020. The Suzhou site provides essential photoresist products to display panel manufacturers.

Our technology is widely used in the displays of vital medical devices needed during the pandemic. Globally, our Performance Materials teams work to ensure a continuous supply of high-end liquid crystal materials to support the increased demand for medical equipment.

Putting the Convention on Biological Diversity into practice

We are committed to implementing the Nagoya Protocol, an international supplementary agreement to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has been transposed into EU law and was implemented in German law on July 1, 2016. We support the general principles set forth in the CBD, especially the third objective: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, in accordance with the Nagoya Protocol’s terms and conditions. A key element is access and benefit sharing, which ensures that countries providing genetic resources and knowledge also benefit from their use. The Nagoya Protocol plays a key role in our product development efforts, and we apply the agreement’s requirements when using genetic resources originating in countries covered by the protocol.

We employ a Group-wide standard entitled Access to Genetic Resources. Its objective is to define requirements, roles and responsibilities in order to ensure compliance with the Nagoya Protocol under applicable legislation. We conduct comprehensive training on this standard across relevant units. In 2020, we established an additional internal exchange within the Group to ensure continued cross-business alignment and to develop and deliver ongoing training. This keeps the relevant units informed of changes to access and benefit sharing.

Where appropriate, we seek to obtain genetic resources and traditional knowledge with the prior informed consent of the relevant Nagoya Protocol member state. Their use is governed by mutually agreed terms. If applicable, for instance when launching a new product, we disclose appropriate  declarations and keep all associated records as required by relevant legislation.

Each business sector defines specific procedures to help ensure that the requirements set out in our Group-wide standard are met.

Sustainable product design in the Life Science business sector

Through our Design for Sustainability (DfS) program, we have developed a comprehensive approach to increasing the sustainability of our Life Science products. The “DfS: Development” program provides our product developers with a range of tools that enable them to analyze product impacts in terms of materials used, energy and emissions, water, packaging, usability and innovation, circular economy, as well as supplier- and manufacturing-related issues. We have developed sustainability criteria that can be used to rank a product’s performance in each of these areas. When developing a new product, our aim is to improve on as many of these criteria scores as possible.

To understand the potential environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle, we conduct streamlined product life cycle analyses. The findings from these analyses inform our efforts to improve our products and are incorporated into subsequent development stages. Experts from R&D, Product Management, Quality, Procurement, and other departments collaborate along every step of the process.

In 2020, we launched the new version of our “DfS: Development” program. It comprises additional criteria and a new scoring system that helps our development teams to better address and minimize negative product- and supply chain-related factors and enables us to improve our communication of product sustainability credentials to our customers. We will progressively deploy these new elements across our organization.

Green Chemistry assessment tool

Through our “DfS: Re-Engineering” initiative, our Life Science researchers are developing innovative solutions in line with the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry developed by chemistry professors Paul T. Anastas and John C. Warner. These aim to make research as environmentally compatible as possible and to minimize negative impacts on human health.

Our proprietary web-based tool DOZN™ enables us to assess sustainable alternatives for various chemicals and to provide transparency to our customers. DOZN™ provides a framework for rating our products in the three stewardship categories of “Improved resource use”, “Increased energy efficiency” and “Reduced human and environmental hazards”. The system calculates scores on each substance based on a range of data that includes the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals () as well as Material Safety Data Sheet information. To date, we have used this matrix to assess and improve more than 50 products.

The customer-facing version of DOZN™ 2.0 allows customers to compare products and/or processes in a secure environment while utilizing the power of our system. DOZN™ 2.0 brings new possibilities of sustainable product design to our customers to make more environmentally friendly choices in their development processes. Since its introduction in 2019, approximately 500 users worldwide have registered to utilize it.

In 2020, we established partnerships with universities in the United States aimed at applying the DOZN™ tool in both virtual and in-lab chemistry curricula. Using DOZN™ in an academic setting yields many benefits. Firstly, it increases the overall accessibility and tangibility of Green Chemistry and its principles. Secondly, it provides a practical opportunity to calculate scores for chemical products and processes and further reinforce learning while highlighting the importance of sustainability in the minds of future scientists.

As of December 2020, more than 1,100 greener alternatives had been made available across our platform of solutions.

Wide range of solutions

Our Life Science portfolio comprises a broad array of products, with different properties that are taken into consideration when applying our DfS approach. The following examples illustrate the results.

Our Life Science portfolio comprises a broad array of products, with different properties that are taken into consideration when applying our DfS approach. The following examples illustrate the results.

Greener solvents

Our greener, bio-based solvents use non-food, renewable resources, making them more environmentally sustainable. Our solvent Cyrene™ is derived from waste cellulose and is used as a more sustainable alternative to substances such as  and , which are classified as toxic to reproduction. We were awarded € 12 million towards building a new Cyrene™ production facility in Europe by the EU research and innovation program Horizon 2020. As part of the project, we are committed to developing new applications for Cyrene™.

Beyond this initiative, we also continue to partner with leading academic institutions in order to develop innovative products that enable us to expand our green solvents portfolio.

Sustainable laboratory water use

Our Milli-Q® IQ 7000 lab water purification and monitoring system uses mercury-free UV oxidation lamps and has a hibernation mode to save energy while still preserving system water quality. Compared with previous systems, this system and its purification cartridges are 25% and 33% smaller, respectively, helping to cut down on the amount of plastic used.

Less plastic in cell culture creation

Our eco-friendlier alternative to our Stericup® sterile filtration system, the Stericup® E, allows our customers to connect the bottle containing the sample being filtered directly to the Stericup® E filtration unit, thus avoiding the use of a plastic funnel. Depending on the product version, the Stericup® E can reduce the amount of plastic used by up to 48% and the amount and size of plastic and corrugated packaging by up to 73%. The unit of sale is then lighter and smaller, which leads to a reduction of CO2 emissions during transportation. It also takes less space to store the product at our distribution centers or at customers’ facilities, while furthermore reducing the volume and cost of waste disposal (including biohazardous waste) for our customers. Taking the entire life cycle into consideration, this approach can reduce the global warming potential of the product by up to 46%. Stericup® E was recognized as “New Product of the Year” at the 2020 BIG Awards for Business.

Innovative single spin purification kits

Traditional DNA and RNA purification uses silica membrane columns to isolate nucleic acid from cell, tissue, blood, and other sample types. DNA or RNA are bound to silica using high concentrations of salts. These bind-wash-elute methods usually require multiple wash and spin steps. In 2020, we launched our GenElute™-E kits, which do not contain any chaotropic salts, organic solvents or , resulting in improved performance in downstream applications. Also, the kits align with both the “Prevention” and “Designing Safer Chemicals” principles of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. They offer several sustainability benefits, such as a 55% reduction of plastic consumables (tubes, pipets, tips) and the avoidance of hazardous liquid waste compared to silica-based kits. These kits also adhere to the principles of SMASH Packaging, our global strategy to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging.

Our Performance Materials products help boost sustainability in a variety of ways:

Our Performance Materials products help boost sustainability in a variety of ways:

Colloidal silica

Over the past decade, our semiconductor materials customers have been increasing their efforts to use more environmentally sustainable materials in their chip manufacturing, while simultaneously improving the performance of their computer chips at lower costs. We have responded to this challenge by developing next-generation colloidal silica products using at least 30% less colloidal silica. This reduces the volume of product needed, which in turn shrinks our environmental footprint.

We successfully launched a next-generation product that meets our customers’ technical and commercial targets, thereby reducing the number of shipping containers used for this product line by approximately 180 units annually. We also optimized our own production process, lowering process water consumption by over 53 million liters compared to our standard products. The availability of these next-generation colloidal silica products in concentrated form means that our customers are able to reduce their process waste treatment and have a smaller number of product containers requiring disposal.

NMP-free removers

The production process for semiconductor devices requires numerous cleaning steps to remove the organic material used to pattern the circuit design. These cleaning methods require complex solvent chemistries that selectively remove organic material without damaging the sensitive electronic components. However, the most effective solvents pose a significant environmental hazard. NMP, a mainstream solvent common in wafer cleaning processes, is highly toxic and is classified as an SVHC (Substance of Very High Concern) under the European Union’s REACH regulation. We are continuously working on developing new cleaning chemistries and launched several new products in 2020. By designing custom solvent systems for our customers’ cleaning applications, we help avoid hazardous chemistries while also reducing the volume of material used and waste generated.

Switchable windows

Windows that can be darkened within a matter of seconds are possible, enabled by eyrise®, our  window (LCW) technology. These darkened windows regulate the heat generated by direct sunlight. Estimates based on planned customer projects show that this technology can lower the energy consumed by building climate control systems and lighting by up to 10%, thereby replacing conventional shading. In addition, the people behind these windows feel more comfortable and work more efficiently thanks to the positive effects of natural daylight. To assess societal impacts, we have developed the Sustainable Business Value method. More information can be found here.

Shifting to more natural-based cosmetics

We are working closely with our customers in the cosmetics industry to find solutions for more natural-based cosmetics. The resulting cosmetic formulations comply with strict criteria. At the end of 2020, 78 of our cosmetic pigments and active ingredients had been certified to Ecocert’s COSMOS standard for organic and natural cosmetics. We had also obtained halal certificates for over 90% of our cosmetic products, including a significant proportion of the pigments we produce in Gernsheim (Germany) and Savannah (Georgia, USA) by the end of 2020.

Alternatives to microplastics in cosmetics

Functional fillers play a crucial role when it comes to the look, feel and quality of cosmetics. Microplastics are often used in cosmetics and functional fillers. However, they are highly resistant to environmental biodegradation, fragment into ever smaller pieces and do not dissolve in water. Wastewater treatment plants are able to filter out only 90% of microplastics.

We offer effective and scientifically proven alternatives to microplastics. Our RonaFlair® portfolio of functional fillers offers environmentally friendly mineral ingredients that deliver a variety of cosmetic properties.

Good manufacturing practice (GMP)
A system for ensuring that products are consistently manufactured and controlled according to quality standards. These guidelines are used in the production of medicines, active pharmaceutical ingredients and cosmetics, as well as foodstuffs and feed.
Liquid crystals (LC)
A hybrid of a crystalline and liquid state. In general, molecules are perfectly arranged only when in a solid crystal state, in contrast to the liquid state, when they move around chaotically. However, liquid crystals are a hybrid of the two states: Although they are liquid, they exhibit a certain crystalline arrangement. Their rod-shaped molecules align themselves like a shoal of fish. In addition, they respond to the electromagnetic waves of light like tiny antennae. Therefore, such swarms of molecules can either allow specially prepared “polarized” light to pass through, or they can block it. This takes place in the pixels of liquid crystal displays – as it does similarly in liquid crystal windows, which can provide shade against sunlight.
Due diligence
A risk analysis exercised with particular care.
GHS
Short for "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals", this refers to an international standard system to classify chemicals that covers labeling as well as safety data sheets.
NMP
N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone a polar aprotic compound that is miscible with water and has good solvency properties. NMP is used in the manufacture of polymers, semiconductors, batteries and pharmaceuticals. The ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has designated NMP as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) and included it in the candidate list for authorization.
DMF
Dimethylformamide is a clear, colorless, hygroscopic liquid with a high dielectric constant. It is employed as a solvent in the production of textiles, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and adhesives. The ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has designated DMF as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) and included it in the candidate list for authorization.
Chaotropic
A chaotropic agent is a molecule in water solution that can disrupt the hydrogen bonding network between water molecules. This affects the stability of the native state of other molecules in the solution by weakening the hydrophobic effect.
EDTA
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is a chemical agent that sequesters metal ions to prevent DNA degradation.
Liquid crystals (LC)
A hybrid of a crystalline and liquid state. In general, molecules are perfectly arranged only when in a solid crystal state, in contrast to the liquid state, when they move around chaotically. However, liquid crystals are a hybrid of the two states: Although they are liquid, they exhibit a certain crystalline arrangement. Their rod-shaped molecules align themselves like a shoal of fish. In addition, they respond to the electromagnetic waves of light like tiny antennae. Therefore, such swarms of molecules can either allow specially prepared “polarized” light to pass through, or they can block it. This takes place in the pixels of liquid crystal displays – as it does similarly in liquid crystal windows, which can provide shade against sunlight.

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Information

The current Sustainability Report 2021 can be found here.