We want to be leading in everything we do. This particularly concerns our innovative products, which contribute to conserving resources and protecting the climate. We help our customers manufacture with low emissions and energy-efficiently. Furthermore, we help them enhance the safety of their products, for example with our completely chromium-free zinc flakes.
Sustainable Product Strategy
ALTANA offers companies around the world specialty chemicals solutions that make products used in daily life better and more sustainable. We convince our customers with added value and give them a competitive edge through our work. Some solutions improve, for example, the functions of end products and increase their lifetime. Others optimize our customers’ value chain in terms of energy and resource consumption. And still others enable our customers to reduce the amount of critical substances in their end products or to replace them with less critical ones. Innovative, environmentally friendly, safely processable products play a key role. They help ALTANA’s customers implement their own sustainability concepts. Based on this understanding of sustainability, the Group continuously leverages new fields of business and paves the way for further profitable growth.
Due to their strong customer orientation, many ALTANA companies gear their innovation strategies systematically to a catalog of sustainability criteria at a very early stage of product development. This includes responsible handling of resources (water, energy, and raw materials) as well as the goal of developing products whose effects on the environment are as low as possible without detracting from the product’s function. This is reflected by the increasing number of coatings, additives, and pigment formulations that are conceived for water-based applications and therefore do not contain organic solvents..
Another aim of ALTANA’s product strategy is to replace critical components with less critical ones whenever possible. For products that need classifications due to national or international hazardous substance regulations, ALTANA’s companies have special data sheets on hand that provide consumers with important information on safe storage and further processing. Moreover, certified lifecycle analyses are available for certain products.
The Keep Changing Agenda from 2016 will support the ALTANA Group’s sustainability strategy in the future, among other things. A central action field of the future agenda is “Take the lead in sustainability.” To achieve this goal, new criteria were defined in 2017 in purchasing and research and development; in the initiative to improve corporate processes, called ALTANA Excellence; in M&A; and related to investment. In addition to economic aspects, these ALTANA projects address ecological and social topics. For example, pframework of thelanned product innovations are analyzed early on within the framework of the stage-gate process, a model for innovation and product development, taking into account possible environmental effects.
Also, ALTANA is working on establishing ongoing exchange between research and development experts within the Group and the Environment, Health & Safety department (EH&S) on the issue of sustainability. Joint regional and global workshops and special Intranet platforms are the basis of this exchange.
In addition, the companies in the ALTANA Group are invited to propose projects with high environmental relevance. From more than 25 ideas, ALTANA selects the most important ones and treats them as so-called “sustainability lighthouse projects” with a high priority.
Pigments for Food Contact
More and more food packaging is printed using ink that contains metallic-effect pigments. This packaging has to comply with the specifications of the packaging and food industry and the EU regarding consumer and health protection. Therefore, ECKART set up a special production facility at its Hartenstein site to manufacture aluminum-based metallic-effect pigments for printing inks. In this method, the pigment specialist uses alcohol to prevent health-endangering substances from migrating from the packaging into the food. The pigment pastes manufactured using the method, such as the new Rotovario FPG (Food Packaging Grade) series, are produced in accordance with international standards, including Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations. The formulations made using these pigments also meet the requirements for indirect food contact laid down in the Swiss Ordinance on Materials and Articles in Contact with Food.
Products Promoting Climate Protection
An important part of ALTANA’s understanding of sustainability is the development of products that enable customers to save energy and thus contribute to climate protection.BYK’s Viscosity Control Technology (VCT) is a good example. It combines thickening and diluting additives to make the processing of reactive resins (duroplastics) more energy efficient. One of the most important applications is the manufacture of wind turbines. The additive combination used in resins for bonding rotor blades has a positive influence on the entire value chain, from faster and more effective manufacture, to space-saving transport, to reduced waste generation.
Wherever possible, the ALTANA Group refrains from using solvents in products and in their manufacture. This reduces emissions of ecologically harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC). In the 2017 reporting year, ALTANA made further progress. For example, ACTEGA Foshan became the first Chinese company to develop a VOC-free coating expressly for the Asian market. The water-based coating is used for paper-based blister packaging, for which there is an ever-growing demand. The packaging is used for tablets, batteries, and toothbrushes, among other things.
Impregnating agents used to insulate electric motors have to withstand strong mechanical and thermal loads. Solvents were long regarded as being indispensable for the manufacture of the resins employed. With the new ELAN-Guard family, ELANTAS PDG is offering the first impregnating-resin product line with significantly reduced amounts of solvent or even completely VOC-free compositions for hermetically sealed motors. Specifically for coils in tractor units, ELANTAS Zhuhai developed a VOC-free polymer that enables crack-free impregnation.
The additives and instruments specialist BYK also expanded its VOC-free portfolio, adding a number of wetting and dispersion additives and defoaming agents. Several defoamers are suitable for coating systems that meet the specifications of the EU Ecolabel.
Use of Biotechnology
It is not only the products themselves that can contribute to sustainability, but also the processes used to manufacture them. In additives manufacture, BYK makes use of biocatalysts if this results in significant energy consumption advantages. An example is the manufacture of an additive with improved surface properties used in the automotive industry. The biocatalyst employed is based on renewable raw materials and enables a much lower production temperature. The additive can be synthesized at 60 °C instead of the 110 °C hitherto.
Replacement of Critical Substances
In the year under review, ALTANA succeeded in replacing further critical substances. An example are chromium compounds that are used, among other things, as corrosion protection in galvanized and hot-zinc dipped connecting elements such as screws, bolts, and other fastening components, say, in the automotive industry. Since chromium compounds are suspected of posing hazards to human health, chemical regulations such as REACH have recently begun strongly restricting their use. The effect-pigment specialist ECKART offers an alternative to the aforementioned methods, namely, special, completely chromium-free zinc flakes. They ensure lasting corrosion protection in the corresponding paint and coating systems with lower material consumption, as thinner layers are needed. The zinc flakes are also used in mounting components for wind turbines. Further advantages for users: Processing primers using zinc flakes requires less energy compared to galvanized coatings. In addition, no wastewater is produced in the coating process.