Materials manufacturer Covestro has been recognized by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) for its successful use of CO2 in plastics production. In Florence, Italy, on Friday, the company received CEFIC’s Responsible Care Award in the Environment category. Covestro has recently started using carbon dioxide to produce a key component for making high-grade polyurethane foam thanks to an innovative process that saves on the petroleum-based raw material traditionally used.
“We’re proud and honored to receive this important recognition from CEFIC,” said Covestro’s Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Markus Steilemann. “It shows we’re on the right track using CO2 as an alternative raw material and playing a pioneering role in this future-focused development. We’re aiming to make a contribution to resource conservation and sustainability by producing as many types of plastic as possible using carbon dioxide,” he added.
Pioneering scientific achievement
CO2 is extremely inert, so harnessing it represents a scientific breakthrough in the chemical industry. Thanks to the right catalyst and process technology, Covestro is now able to produce a new precursor for polyurethane foam with 20 percent CO2. An initial production facility opened this year at the company’s Dormagen site in Germany. If all goes according to plan, the new material will soon reach end customers in the form of mattresses and upholstery.
The carbon dioxide replaces petroleum and its derivatives, on which the chemical industry is otherwise almost entirely based. This broadens the industry’s raw material base while also dispensing with petroleum processing and thus both saving energy and cutting emissions.
CEFIC recognized this achievement with the award it has been presenting annually since 2004. It is named after the Responsible Care initiative embraced by chemical companies and associations the world over who acknowledge their joint environmental and social responsibility and give high priority to sustainability.