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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 energyefficiently, and assist them in enhancing the safety of their products.
Sustainable Product Strategy
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 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.
Products and Technologies for More Climate Protection
In the year under review, all of our divisions made progress with products and technologies for greater climate protection.
At ACTEGA, the development of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) was further intensified in the reporting year. The Bremen site manufactures TPE compounds, which are used as sealing compounds in food and beverage closures, as well as TPE granules, which are used in medical technology and the consumer goods industry. This product group is characterized by the fact that it meets the requirements for sustainability and environmental compatibility to a high degree. For example, vulcanization, which is time-consuming and temperature-intensive, is no longer required during processing. This saves energy and thus reduces CO2 emissions. Even the production of the granules requires less energy than soft PVC. In addition, working with granules generates less dust and the amount of waste is lower. Furthermore, the potential for migration of undesirable substances is minimized and the material is 100 % recyclable. Chlorinated compounds, on the other hand, pollute the environment during manufacture and disposal. During production of the granules sold under the PROVAMED® brand name, raw materials are used that meet the requirements of the European Pharmacopoeia or are biocompatible. These TPEs comply with the regulations for food contact materials in Germany and the EU, and those stipulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the gold standard of the independent Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
ECKART further developed and significantly optimized an existing process for the production of effect pigments for the powder coatings industry. The new product range gives powder coatings greater color intensity and simplifies application. Moreover, these products have significantly improved heat stability. This property has an especially positive effect on storage and transport in warmer regions, for example in Asia. With the new process, ECKART can additionally conserve up to 75 % of the energy used in production compared to the established process and avoid waste products such as solvents.
Low-Emission Products and Technologies
All of the divisions launched new products that help reduce various emissions. One focus at BYK was the development of emission-free products in the wetting and dispersing, surface, defoaming, and rheology application areas. These new additives can be used in solvent-free and water-based coating systems and meet the requirements for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
ELANTAS also developed corresponding products, for example by using solvents that do not contain nitrogen. This makes it possible to avoid the formation of harmful nitrogen oxide gases, which can occur during subsequent combustion. The switch from a highly volatile, organic diluent to a novel, low-volatility, label-free system led to a significant reduction in VOC content and toxicity without compromising the desired product properties.
Replacement of Critical Substances
In the reporting year, ALTANA succeeded in replacing other critical substances. For example, a series of products was developed at BYK that no longer contain tin in the formulation. As a result, these products meet current requirements, especially those of customers in the furniture industry. The formulations also comply with special regulations, including the ordinance for the safety of toys. Owing to changes in legal requirements, the formulation of some wax products was adapted so that they continue to satisfy current European chemical law requirements (REACH).
Contributions to a Circular Economy
The topic of a “circular economy” is becoming increasingly important for the chemical industry. The transition from linear to circular value chains includes reuse as well as mechanical and chemical recycling. This also includes waste incineration processes in which the heat generated is used as a source of energy and, in the future, will include the reuse of the resulting CO2 as a chemical raw material. Product design figures prominently in this process. The aim is to achieve both the desired product properties and simple recycling of the raw materials. An example is packaging films for foodstuffs. To achieve the required properties, films are now used that consist of different materials and multiple layers. Such multiple-component films cannot be mechanically recycled using the technical methods available today. The aim of an innovation in this context is, for example, to replace individual components with a single coating layer. ACTEGA developed such an innovative solution. The aqueous thermoplastic elastomer dispersions of the YUNICO® technology are creating a new generation of functional coatings. The new technology enables various properties to be combined in a single dispersion, including barrier effects and heatsealability as well as haptic effects and recyclability in accordance with the global standard of the Paper Technology Research Foundation (PTS). The dispersions of YUNICO® technology are based exclusively on water and are emulsifierand solvent-free. This is an important aspect in production and processing, as no harmful substances are released into the air or can get into the filling material. In addition, these dispersions meet all requirements regarding direct food contact and have the corresponding Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EU approvals.
Under the brand name ACTGreen® Sustainable Coatings, ACTEGA also launched a sustainable portfolio of overprint varnishes for folding cartons, publications, and commercial prints. The portfolio includes products based on recycled raw materials of fossil origin and bio-based materials, as well as coatings on the basis of renewable raw materials in the form of plant-based resins.
In addition, Schmid Rhyner AG, which was acquired by the ACTEGA division in the year under review, brought an innovative UV silver coating onto the market that achieves high metallic brilliance in printed products. This process produces significantly less waste than the conventional process with metalized board or hot/cold foil decoration.
At BYK, too, solutions promoting a circular economy have already been established on the market. RECYCLOBYK® is a group of additives that improve the processing and long-term thermal stability of plastics such as polyolefins and polyethylene terephthalates (PET), enabling new, highquality applications. For instance, plastics from used car batteries can be redeployed as plastics in the same or even a higher-value application after reprocessing. When it comes to recycling used plastics, especially food packaging materials, odors often pose limitations for reuse. The origin of such odor emissions is often small amounts of volatile components generated during processing or they come from residual amounts of the filling material. Products from BYK can bind these odor-causing substances and remove them from the plastic.
In addition to these specific product developments, ALTANA is also involved in national and international initiatives, such as the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC).