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 the impact of our products on health and the environment. This applies to the entire lifecycle, 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 products that in turn help our customers manufacture sustainable and environmentally compatible goods. Our aim is to develop smart products that allow people to save energy in everyday life. The avoidance of hazardous materials is a principle that is embedded in the product development process.
How we include sustainability in product design
The Corporate Responsibility (CR) unit within our Life Science business sector is responsible for coordinating and driving product-related sustainability. This includes our Design for Sustainability (DfS) program for eco-friendlier life science products as well as DOZN™, a web-based tool for assessing greener alternatives.
Our Performance Materials business sector has its own CR Committee comprising representatives from all Performance Materials business units and other relevant internal units. The committee functions as a platform to discuss CR issues and meets three to four times per year.
The responsibilities described here also apply to product packaging and recycling.
Our commitment: Chemicals and product policies
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 variety of approaches help our experts to drive sustainability improvement during the development of products and packaging:
- With our Design for Sustainability (DfS) program, we have developed a comprehensive approach to increasing the sustainability of Life Science products through the analysis of different sustainability criteria.
- Our Life Science researchers are using a green chemistry assessment tool to develop innovative solutions in line with the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry developed by chemists Paul T. Anastas and John C. Warner.
- Our in-house-developed web-based tool DOZN™ enables us to assess the green alternatives of various chemicals, thereby creating transparency for our customers.
The following guidelines also set out requirements for sustainable product design within our Performance Materials business sector:
- The Green Product Policy ensures that we adhere to all national and international laws and statutes (e.g. REACH and the European Union RoHS Directive), as well as to industry and customer-specific requirements.
- Our raw materials for the cosmetics industry fulfill the high standards of the Cosmetics Directive and are produced in line with Good Manufacturing Practices for Cosmetic Ingredients (EFfCI GMP). As part of a regular process we reviewed the EFfCl GMP in 2018 and communicated the results to the plant managers operating in the field of Surface Solutions. A new manual for cosmetic suppliers was also made available in 2018.
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 Life Science products. The DfS program provides our product developers with a range of tools that enable them to analyze the impact of the product on the following areas: materials, energy and emissions, waste, water, packaging, usability and innovation. For each of these areas we have developed several sustainability criteria that are noted on a scorecard. When developing a new product, our aim is to improve on as many of these criteria scores as possible. We conduct product life cycle analyses to understand the potential environmental impacts within different stages of the product life cycle. The findings of these analyses show us how we can improve our products and are incorporated into subsequent development stages. During this process, experts from R&D, Product Management, Quality, Procurement and other departments are in constant contact with one another. By the end of 2018, 27% of these product development projects met three or more product sustainability criteria.
We are currently working on enhancing our DfS program, with the aim of helping our development teams better account for environmental impacts during the product development process and improving communication of sustainability attributes to our customers. In 2019, we intend to integrate the changes to the program into our product development process. The improvements will especially involve our suppliers, with specific criteria aiming at encouraging the majority of them to participate in the Together for Sustainability industry initiative. In 2018, we ran a first product development pilot project for which we engaged 10 suppliers of consumable parts who represent more than 85% of the manufacturing cost of the product.
Green chemistry assessment tool
In addition to DfS, our Life Science researchers are developing innovative solutions in line with the twelve Principles of Green Chemistry developed by chemists 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. More than 750 greener alternatives to conventional products have been made available so far.
Our in-house-developed web-based tool DOZN™ enables us to assess the green alternatives of various chemicals, thereby creating transparency for our customers. Under DOZN™, the twelve Principles of Green Chemistry provide a framework for rating our products in three major stewardship categories, namely “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 (GHS) as well as the Material Safety Data Sheet information. To date, we have used this matrix to assess and improve more than 40 products. It is our goal to make the tool available to our customers in 2019, so that they can evaluate the environmental footprint of their activities.
Wide range of solutions
Our Life Science portfolio comprises a broad array of products, each with different properties that are taken into consideration when applying our DfS approach and the Principles of Green Chemistry. The following examples illustrate the results.
Greener laboratory filters
We have significantly reduced the environmental footprint of our EZ-Fit™ Manifold laboratory filter, and it now requires 47% less raw material than its predecessor, the Hydrosol Manifold. The packaging is 100% recyclable cardboard and, overall, 99% of its parts are recyclable. Because the heads can be easily removed for cleaning, it is no longer necessary to autoclave the whole device, which saves energy and results in a 91% reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions produced during cleaning.
Our greener, bio-based solvent Cyrene™ is derived from waste cellulose. This solvent is used as a more sustainable alternative to substances such as dimethylformamide (formic acid), which is classified as teratogenic. Through Cyrene™ and other greener solvents, we are helping our customers make their production processes safer and more environmentally sustainable. Cyrene™ was shortlisted for the “innovation of the year” at the Ethical Corporation's 9th Annual Responsible Business Awards in 2018. We've teamed up with leading institutions and start-ups to co-develop other green solvents. In contrast to conventional solvents, these are based on natural resources such as corn cobs and sugar cane bagasse, making them eco-friendlier, more biodegradable and easier to recycle.
Eco-friendly lab water use
In mid-2017, we launched Milli-Q® IQ 7000, a new lab water purification and monitoring system. It uses mercury-free UV oxidation lamps and has a hibernation mode to save energy while still preserving system water quality. We were able to reduce the system footprint by 25%, and the cartridges by 33%, all of which cut down on the amount of plastic used, packaging and transportation, as well as waste levels.
Current product examples from Performance Materials
Our Performance Materials products help boost sustainability in a variety of ways:
Our liquid crystals provide high picture quality in LCD TVs, computer monitors and many more electronic devices, while also making them more power efficient. Self-aligned vertical alignment (SA-VA) is the next-generation liquid crystal (LC) technology and was launched in 2018. SA-VA helps conserve resources and is even more environmentally sustainable because less energy and solvent for the orientation layer are required to manufacture the displays. Moreover, its manufacture is more efficient as it requires fewer process steps. Furthermore, since SA-VA technology can be processed at lower temperatures, it is also suitable for sensitive materials such as those used in premium products, or for forward-looking applications such as flexible displays. Our reactive mesogen materials can also be used for ultra-thin optical films to improve the visual performance of LC and OLED displays, making them suitable for potential new flexible-type displays.
Mobile-device displays have increasingly high resolutions yet are still expected to be as energy-efficient as possible. This is where our liquid crystals for touchscreen applications come in. Based on ultra-brightness FFS technology (UB-FFS), these liquid crystals provide displays with 15% more light transmission. This can reduce the energy consumption of smartphones and tablets by around 30%, thereby prolonging battery life. UB-FFS also enhances picture resolution. Devices with the innovative UB-Plus liquid crystal technology and with a significant reduction in energy consumption are expected to enter the market in 2019.
Windows that can be darkened in a matter of seconds are now a reality thanks to our liquid crystal window (LCW) technology. These darkened windows regulate the heat generated by direct sunlight. The LC material was commercialized under our licrivision® brand, and in October 2018 a new brand for the product was launched under the name eyriseTM. Initial estimates show that this technology can lower the energy consumed by building climate control systems by up to 40%, thus replacing conventional sun shading. We have invested € 15 million in the construction of a facility in the Netherlands to manufacture these switchable glass modules, which began deliveries in 2018. In response to market demand, we prioritized solar control during 2018, and we have three sophisticated architectural projects in the pipeline to be fitted with solar control LCWs.
We were able to realize the first commercial project in October 2018: large solar control windows for the company Orkla in Oslo (Norway). Furthermore, we presented a selection of these innovative architectural solutions at the trade fair “BAU 2019”, where we focused on our eyrise™ technology. Among other things, we showed an iconic building design by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The building is currently being constructed for the company Kirow Ardelt in Leipzig (Germany). We also help partner companies build their own window production using our liquid crystal materials.
OLEDs – organic light emitting diodes
Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) increase the energy efficiency of displays while also providing brilliant colors and razor-sharp images. To further enable unique display applications and efficient production of large-area OLED displays, we are developing high performance OLED materials for vacuum evaporation methods and printing processes.
Our OLED production is designed with cost and resource efficiency in mind. Here, we also work together with our customers: When OLED materials are installed, some production material always remains in the used containers and machinery. Our customers can collect this residual production material and send it back to us. We then prepare it so that it reaches its original quality again and can be reused. This approach saves valuable resources and benefits the environment.
Life cycle approach to benefit our customers
At the plants where our effect pigments are produced, we focus on saving energy and reducing CO2-output. In 2018, this led to an 18% overall CO2-reduction for plants, which operate for our Surface Solutions portfolio. This is especially relevant for those customers who want to reduce their upstream CO2 footprint. We also conducted a gap analysis on the origin transparency of raw materials, the sustainability in product development and product sustainability. In the Surface Solutions area of our Performance Materials business sector, we use around 600 metric tons of renewable materials for the production of commercial products. This is mainly by extracting the natural compound glycerol from a variety of plant-derived oils.
More natural-based cosmetics
Responding to the ever-growing popularity of natural cosmetics, we are working closely with our customers in the cosmetics industry. Our cosmetic formulations comply with strict criteria and by the end of 2018, 68 of our cosmetic pigments and actives were certified according to Ecocert’s COSMOS standard for organic and natural cosmetics. We also obtained halal certificates for our Eusolex T and UV-Titan product ranges. Our aim is to develop more natural-based raw materials for use in cosmetics in the future.
Alternative to plastic microbeads
We manufacture mineral-based pigments and functional fillers that are used by the cosmetics industry. Our RonaFlair® functional fillers series provides an alternative to plastic microbeads that are used in skin care products. Through this range of 27 innovative products, we are supporting initiatives such as the declaration of Cosmetics Europe, which advocates a phase-out of microplastics in rinse-off products by 2020. Microbeads are tiny, non-biodegradable polymer particles that cannot be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants. They end up in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, where they can harm the organisms living there. We are continuing to develop other functional fillers that don’t make use of microbeads.