WACKER Joins Renewable Carbon Initiative
Dec 09, 2021
Wacker Chemie AG has joined the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI), which aims to advance decarbonization of the chemical industry. The Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) was launched by the nova Institute, a private research institute established in 1994 and headquartered in the Knapsack Chemical Park outside of Cologne. The institute advises the industry on transitioning to renewable carbon. Founding members of the initiative include Beiersdorf, Covestro, Henkel, Unilever and UPM.
“This initiative tackles exactly what we as a chemical company need, over and above the use of renewable energies, in order to achieve carbon neutrality one day – namely the establishment of a circular economy for carbon,” explains Dr. Peter Gigler, head of Corporate Sustainability at WACKER. As a chemical company, he pointed out, WACKER is necessarily dependent on carbon and, as such, needs a strategy for obtaining this raw material from sources other than fossil-based feedstocks.
The Renewable Carbon Initiative promotes technologies and supply chains aimed at replacing all fossil-based carbon with renewable carbon derived from alternative resources such as biomass, CO2 and recycling. In the words of the RCI vision statement, “This is the only path to chemicals and plastics that are sustainable, climate-friendly and part of the circular economy.” In this way, the initiative is addressing a problem at the heart of climate change, i.e., that carbon extracted from fossil materials underground – whether in the form of coal, petroleum or natural gas – ultimately ends up in the atmosphere.
“Fossil-based carbon, which is currently used for producing 99 percent of plastics, is the primary cause of human-induced climate change,” explains Michael Carus, who founded the initiative. Today, all plastics and many other materials could just as easily be obtained from biomass, CO2 and recycling. “The transformation of our system must not be based on oil,” says Carus emphatically. “It wouldn’t occur to anyone today to base a new mobility concept on oil. And that should be the case for plastics too!”
Andreas Collignon, who works on the customer and market end of the WACKER POLYMERS Polaris project, feels WACKER should also take a closer look at its products’ life cycles and at options for recycling the carbon they contain. This is another area where the Renewable Carbon Initiative could help, he observes. WACKER could, for instance, use the initiative for finding partners to advance technological development related to recycling issues, or for playing an active role in the political work involved in creating new standards.