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As a good corporate citizen, ALTANA supports and sponsors social projects focusing on education, science, and research. To strengthen our local environments and to be a good neighbor, we especially promote initiatives near our sites worldwide. ALTANA also helps when there are disasters. In the year under review, ALTANA primarily supported people who were particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The natural sciences, mathematics, informatics, and technology are among the drivers of economic development and social progress around the world. In this context, ALTANA wants to help introduce young people to these disciplines at an early stage and to kindle their enthusiasm for them. In addition, the ALTANA Group is involved in a number of selected social projects. In cooperation with experienced partners from the education sector, we support concrete projects, often in the immediate proximity of our sites. To maximize lasting impact, the company usually promotes these projects over a period of several years. In 2020, events that ALTANA has actively supported for many years had to be canceled owing to the pandemic. These include, for example, the Research Days, which ALTANA has accompanied for many years as a network partner of the Germany-wide foundation House of Junior Researchers, and the lighthouse event of the civic foundation KREAKTIV. In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, we not only protected our own employees at our sites from contracting the virus, but also, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, helped out local hospitals and first responders, for example, by providing protective clothing, masks, and disinfectants that we did not absolutely need ourselves. In addition, ALTANA and the BYK, ECKART, ELANTAS, and ACTEGA divisions supported numerous coronavirus aid projects in the year under review.
Educational Coaching of Elementary Schoolchildren
ALTANA has supported the educational coaching project at GGS Innenstadt, the largest public elementary school in Wesel, for seven years now. The project was initiated by the City of Wesel and implemented by the Klausenhof Academy in close cooperation with GGS Innenstadt. The main aim is to promote elementary schoolchildren and to achieve equal opportunity for children with a migration background and from socially deprived backgrounds. ALTANA financed the personnel and material costs for a socio-educational expert at the Klausenhof Academy. The expert assigns “personal mentors” to each child, trains the mentors, and coordinates their work. A total of 51 children have been supported since the project began in 2014. Currently, 17 volunteer mentors are taking part. They support and challenge the children in their personal development according to their abilities. The coronavirus pandemic has also posed a great challenge to educational coaching. It is particularly important to stay in contact in these times, especially with children and parents from particularly socially strained backgrounds. The specialist regularly exchanges ideas with the mentors, parents, the school and, in some cases, with family aid and the youth welfare office, working with them to find pragmatic solutions that help the children cope in their everyday lives and provide them with the best possible support despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. At the beginning of the year, the children were still able to meet regularly with their personal mentors; during the first lockdown in the spring, however, new possibilities had to be found to support the children. For example, the children received packages with craft ideas, puzzles, and books. Then, during the summer months, the children and their sponsors went on field trips again in local areas. Many of the mentors also helped the kids with their homework by phone or via digital tools. This was a tremendous help, especially during the distance learning phases.
Youth Startups Competition
In 2020, ALTANA again supported the online competition “Jugend gründet” (Youth Startups), sponsored by the German Federal Government, offering a special prize in chemistry for the sixth time in a row. In the national finals in the year under review, a team of students from Berlin not only won the ALTANA Special Prize for Chemistry in recognition of an innovative, well thought-out, and sustainable business idea in the field of chemistry, but also the overall 2019/2020 competition. The Berlin students developed a business plan for a biodegradable plant pot intended to completely replace the conventional plastic pot. Together with the plant, the pot is planted in the ground, where it rots, fertilizes the plant, and protects it when it starts to grow. Thus, potential customers would not only avoid plastic waste, but also save themselves the trouble of repotting and fertilizing. The so-called KomPot is made from natural raw materials produced as waste in the wood and paper industry. Using the injection molding process, the pot can be shaped into form like other thermoplastic materials, making it almost as stable as a plastic pot.
The ALTANA Special Prize for Chemistry is coupled with a trip to Wallingford on the East Coast of the U.S., where the students can visit one of the ALTANA Group’s largest research and production sites at BYK USA and take part in an interesting social program. The trip could not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic and will be made up for at a later date.
Support in Times of Coronavirus
Many were completely unprepared for the extent of the pandemic, especially at the beginning. The demand for the necessary protective clothing, masks, and disinfectants far exceeded the supply, and these items were not available in many places. Although ALTANA itself does not manufacture disinfectants or raw materials needed for them, we helped out as much as we could at the local level by providing materials such as protective masks, disposable suits, and gloves that we did not absolutely need ourselves. We also offered to help refill disinfectants and furnished suitable containers for medical facilities when needed. ACTEGA North America’s packaging experts deployed their skills and resources at the start of the pandemic and, after querying key requirements, produced several thousand PET face shields, which they distributed to hospitals and first responders in the greater Providence area in the state of Rhode Island. In addition, they manufactured and distributed more than 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to facilities in New England and New Jersey and other places where they were urgently needed. Many U.S. distilleries pivoted to producing hand sanitizer to meet the enormous demand. ACTEGA North America used its industry contacts for an unusual sourcing initiative to quickly identify alternative and available containers for the bottlers, because the typical bottles for sanitizers were quickly out of stock.
As the pandemic progressed, ALTANA also financially contributed to the purchase of so-called CO2 traffic lights for elementary schools, among other things. These items measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the rooms and indicate when ventilation should be provided. Hence they help reduce the risk of infection in classrooms.
Last but not least, we make a contribution with our products and solutions in particularly important areas such as supply, transport and logistics, as well as food and medical needs. These include insulating materials and potting compounds for use in respirators or syringes, additives for the manufacture of respirators and medical protective clothing, as well as PVC- and plasticizer-free sealing compounds for baby food. In the magazine section of this report starting on page 19, we present further examples of applications of our innovative solutions.
Worldwide Donation Campaign
The year 2020 presented the global community with challenging tasks, some of which were existential. In this exceptional situation, ALTANA decided to provide assistance beyond its own sites and independently of its actual focus on education, science, and research. Together with Aktion Deutschland Hilft e. V., a strong alliance of German aid organizations, we identified three projects, in Bangladesh, Malawi, and Yemen, which support people particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, more than 850,000 Rohingya forced out of Myanmar live in extremely difficult hygienic and cramped conditions. The necessary isolation of people suffering from COVID-19 is hardly feasible here. The project of the aid organization CARE that was selected aims to protect 65,000 particularly vulnerable people from being infected with the coronavirus and other diseases; to improve their medical care, drinking water supply, hygiene, and nutrition; and to provide girls and women with lasting protection against violence, sexual abuse, and the emerging human trafficking.
In Yemen, 24 million people are now dependent on survival aid. Ten million of them are suffering from acute hunger, most of them children. The health system there had already collapsed before the coronavirus pandemic. The project of the aid organization CARE selected aims to protect 400,000 particularly vulnerable people in Yemen against infection with the coronavirus and other diseases and to sustainably improve their medical care, drinking water supply, hygiene, and nutrition. The goal is to reduce the scale of the disaster by taking precautions for as many people as possible.
In Malawi (Southeast Africa), all schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. A prerequisite for reopening them is a functioning hygiene concept. But many elementary schools in Malawi do not even have access to clean water. The objective of the project of the aid organization Habitat for Humanity that was chosen is to make it possible for some 3,000 students to attend school safely. In addition, the hygiene measures serve to reduce contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and diphtheria in the long term.
ALTANA allocated a total of 50,000 euros to these initiatives and enabled its employees and business contacts to participate online in deciding how the sum should be divided among the three projects. ALTANA’s website provided all the relevant information on a special page. Furthermore, in an electronic Christmas card for 2020, the ALTANA Group called on its employees and business partners to make their own donations, thus increasing the amount donated. By December 31, 2020, an additional sum of more than 30,000 euros had been collected in this way. ALTANA would like to express its sincere thanks to all donors for their contributions.
Social Commitment and Other Donations
The coronavirus pandemic also had an impact on other social commitment endeavors. ELANTAS Beck India supports projects that focus on education, health, and hygiene, and did so even before 2014, when companies in India were legally obligated to assume responsibility for society. On top of that, the company has always helped when there were natural disasters in the country. In 2020, India was hit particularly hard: In addition to the ever-changing pandemic situation, natural hazards such as cyclones and floods victimized the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. This presented ELANTAS Beck India with the difficult task of deciding which of the many coronavirus relief projects the company should support. Ultimately, it opted for two broad-based emergency relief and disaster funds.
Despite pandemic-related interruptions, many educational programs in India could be offered online. As part of its commitment to sustainability, ELANTAS Beck India supported the educational initiative Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Sanstha for the third time in a row. With its program, the initiative enables girls from socially disadvantaged backgrounds to receive an education, strengthening their self-confidence and allowing them to become role models for others in society. The aim of the initiative is to increase the girls’ and women’s social participation through education. ELANTAS Beck India financed the school and education costs for 33 girls in the 2020 reporting year. The process of selecting the participants for the education program is based on the girls’ performance at school and their families’ income situation.
ELANTAS PDG in St. Louis, U.S., has also supported local social projects for many years and at the same time reinforced its employees’ personal commitment to sustainability. The staff actively supports people who live in the neighborhood of the site and has been doing so for more than 14 years in some projects. Among the most important aid projects are the social initiatives Back to School Supplies and Annual Holiday Drive, which are coordinated by dedicated employees at ELANTAS PDG. For the Back to School Supplies initiative, the project coordinator collected funds from employees again in 2020 which were used to buy school supplies such as notebooks and pencils for needy children attending the nearby Nance Elementary School. Similarly, the organizers of the Annual Holiday Drive initiative once again used the money donated by colleagues to assist five needy families and help them have a nice Christmas by giving them gifts such as shoes, toys, and clothing, as well as a basket of food.
In the U.S. state of Connecticut, many people lost their jobs on account of the pandemic, causing existential hardship in some cases. At the same time, donations to food banks, which provide those in need with food, clothing, and essentials for day-to-day living, decreased significantly. At its Wallingford site, BYK USA looked for ways to support these people in times of contact restrictions and increased working at home. First, the company donated facemasks to the local charity Master’s Manna enabling the organization’s employees and volunteers to protect themselves while sorting and distributing food that had been donated. Then BYK USA launched a virtual drive for donating food to Master’s Manna. Employees participated so extensively that instead of the planned 300 food packages, a total of 522 packages were donated to the aid organization.
The ECKART division also demonstrated a commitment to society again in the year under review. As part of an annual Christmas campaign called “Donations Instead of Presents,” the company provided a total of 20,000 euros. The donations were given to two children’s charities and “Curatorium Altern gestalten,” a nonprofit company that promotes future-oriented models for aging and old age through active contributions and knowledge transfer.