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Our innovative products contribute to conserving resources and protecting the environment. At the same time, we help our clients manufacture with low emissions and energy-efficiently, and assist them in enhancing the safety of their products.
ALTANA offers companies around the world specialty chemical 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 shelf life. 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 do not need 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 for the future supports the ALTANA Group’s sustainability strategy, 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 purchasing, research and development, M&A, investment-related activities, and in the initiative to improve corporate processes, called ALTANA Excellence, in order to address ecological and social aspects in addition to economic ones.
The trend toward usage of water-based coatings and resin systems continued in the period under review. Legal regulations, for example the restriction on organic solvent-containing coatings in China, and customer requirements have led to a growing demand for water-based products.
A good example are the activities of ALTANA’s largest division, BYK, which recognized this development at an early stage and in the last five years has developed and marketed more than 30 new products for water-based systems. The additives and instruments specialist achieves more than 40 percent of its sales alone with wetting and dispersing additives, defoamers, and water-based rheology additives. An exemplary product is the recently introduced VOC-free defoamer BYK-1786 for aqueous systems used to remove microfoam. This defoamer has a wide range of applications and is particularly suitable for environmentally friendly architectural and general industrial coatings. In general, BYK is relying on aqueous systems as a future technology. Water-based coatings are topical alternatives to conventional systems. In most cases they perform just as well and are as easy to process, while being profitable and environmentally sound at the same time.
ELANTAS is also continually developing new products with improved environmental properties. The focus is on low-emission water-based systems. A challenge in the development of organic solvent-free technologies is the preservation or improvement of the product characteristics and the performance features. Therefore, the rheological properties of water-based systems can be optimized and thinner films can be achieved with the same or better efficiency. With the product ELAN-Guard 6965, an impregnating resin for electric motors, for example, this is achieved through special emulsion manufacturing processes.
In the period under review, ACTEGA Rhenania developed and marketed new water-based products with significantly lower emissions. These products are used in packaging for animal feed products, among others.
ALTANA products can simplify our customers’ manufacturing processes and simultaneously significantly improve the products’ properties. Both effects not only have economic advantages, but also have a positive impact on the environment.
ELANTAS’ rapidly hardening impregnating resins, for example, make a lasting contribution. Through the use of this technology both the electricity consumption and the time needed for impregnating low-voltage motors can be reduced significantly. Furthermore, through targeted adjustment of the flow properties the use of solvents can be largely avoided, contributing to occupational safety, sustainability, and cost reduction.
With a focus on using resources more efficiently, ACTEGA acquired a technology for a new label printing process. One advantage is that printing can be carried out with significantly less waste. This technology is currently under development, and the first commercial products are expected in the coming years.
In the packaging coatings sector, mercury vapor lamps and LED lights are used to cure certain coating systems. The latter have clear advantages: longer runtimes, consistent quality, lower energy needs, less heat generation, and avoidance of dangerous mercury. Legal requirements restrict the use of mercury vapor lamps in Europe. For curing with LED lighting systems, ACTEGA has successfully developed suitable printing inks and coatings and established them on the market.
In the year under review, ALTANA succeeded in replacing further critical substances. For example, at BYK a solvent was replaced whose use hitherto was drastically limited by export regulations. An alternative solvent combination was found that leaves the product properties unchanged.
The substitution of N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), classified as a reprotoxic substance, was pushed forward in several projects. For instance, new formulations of wax dispersions could be developed without NMP.
At ECKART, the effect-pigment specialist, a group of emulsifiers was replaced whose use has been restricted increasingly within the EU in recent years due to the toxicological effect of its degradation products on water organisms. As an alternative, ECKART developed metallic pigments for environmentally friendly aqueous uses on a different raw-material basis and introduced them on the market.
At ACTEGA, adhesives for the PROVALIN product family were developed without Bisphenol A. In addition, these products are free of PVC plastisols and plasticizers suspected of having negative effects on health.
In the year under review, ELANTAS Beck developed a hardener for epoxy systems obtained from the shells of cashew nuts, a raw material that is amply available in India and has no other use (for example, as a foodstuff). Also, the manufacture of this hardener is more energy-efficient and waste-neutral than classical chemical manufacturing processes using fossil sources.
An example of the usage of a recycled raw material is the use of purified polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for the manufacture of a wire enamel. This process leads to significantly reduced energy consumption and lower waste volumes.