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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 chains 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, for example, 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. With an eye to an increasing circular economy and to further improve the ecological footprint of its products, ALTANA also evaluates the use of renewable raw materials or raw materials from recycling processes, without disregarding its high standards of quality and compliance with chemical regulations. With the ALTANA Excellence program, manufacturing processes are constantly being optimized in terms of energy efficiency as well as emissions and waste avoidance.
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 BYK, further additives were developed that can significantly extend the electrochemical stability and shelf life of batteries. They bring about improved distribution and stabilization of the conductive carbon materials used, which are deployed as electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries in particular. This conserves resources and generates added value for the customer.
ACTEGA continued the success story of PVC-free sealing materials. While chlorinated compounds pollute the environment during production and disposal, the newly developed materials make due without halogen-containing materials. In addition, material savings of up to 30% are possible in the application and no harmful plasticizers are used. This is a major advantage, and not only for sensitive applications in the food sector. The energy requirements for the manufacture and use of the materials are also lower, which is reflected in a better CO2 balance.
ELANTAS achieved a breakthrough with the use of a new component for the manufacture of products based on unsaturated polyesters. Monomers or diluents used in unsaturated polyester resins often contain high levels of volatile organic components and are sometimes of regulatory concern. Thus, they can cause harm to humans and / or the environment if used improperly, resulting in special precautions during production, transport, and use. Thanks to the novel component, the products made from it are free from any hazard classification and labeling. At the same time, they retain their excellent electrical, chemical, and mechanical insulating properties and significant amounts of waste are avoided. This is another example of how innovations in the chemical industry, in particular, contribute to climate protection and sustainability.
Low-Emission Products and Technologies
All of the divisions launched new products that help reduce various emissions. This not only reduces possible stresses at the workplaces and thus improves protection of the respective users, but also conserves resources and is environmentally friendly.
BYK developed and launched zero-emission products for various applications and launched them on the market. The spectrum ranges from wetting and dispersing agents to rheological additives, defoamers, and additives that have a positive influence on the properties of surfaces. Rheological additives, for example, significantly improve the flow behavior of powder coatings during curing. Hence BYK supports its customers in further improving the general applicability of these solvent-free coating systems. Unlike other coating systems, powder coatings offer the possibility of collecting and recycling so-called overspray, that is, material that flies past the component to be coated. This reduces the amount of waste. By adjusting the flow behavior of the not yet cured coating, the novel additive increases the thickness of the layer, particularly at the edges. This improves the corrosion protection and thus extends the service life of the protective coating and the actual component. In addition, the product contains renewable raw materials from certified sources.
Other ALTANA companies are taking a similar approach. For example, traditional markets are increasingly switching to applications devoid of organic solvents. The materials are either converted to aqueous systems or solvents are dispensed with altogether. In order to continue to achieve the desired properties, the requirements profile for ALTANA products is constantly expanding. It is often the elimination of minute amounts of volatile organic compounds that provides the key advantage. The customers obtain the desired effects without unwanted emissions. And this delivers added value along the entire value chain all the way to the end consumer.
Replacement of Critical Substances
In the year under review, ALTANA succeeded in replacing other critical substances. For example, ECKART developed novel metallic effect pigments that can obviate the need for chromium VI compounds. Plastics are still treated with toxic chromium compounds in galvanic processes to generate metallic coatings. Chromium VI compounds have harmful effects on human health and have a deleterious impact on the environment. Due to their properties, the novel effect pigments can replace electroplated surfaces. As a result, the desired optics can be achieved, for example, on trim strips in automotive interiors, without the risks described above.
In the reporting year, BYK developed further surface additives and defoamers in which special manufacturing processes remove unwanted by-products in the form of silicone cycles. As a consequence, the products meet the special requirements even of sensitive applications, thus enriching customers’ options for manufacturing their materials in the best possible form. Through the use of novel catalysts, BYK succeeded in continuously expanding its range of tin-free wetting and dispersing agents. The products meet the current requirements, especially those of customers in the furniture industry. In addition, the formulations comply with special regulations, including the Toy Safety Direction.
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.
ACTEGA developed a water-based primer with barrier properties for cardboard packaging. In combination with an associated top coat, the cardboard packaging coated in this way can serve as a substitute for polyethylene-laminated or extruded sheets. One area of application is food packaging, such as takeaway ice cream cups and cold drink cups. Typically, a layer of polyethylene is used, either extruded or laminated to board. Polyethylene serves as a barrier layer for food and prevents water or grease from penetrating into and through the sheet. These multi-component films cannot be mechanically recycled using the technical methods available today. The novel, water-based barrier coatings from ACTEGA, on the other hand, are an environmentally friendly alternative without a polyethylene layer. After use, the cardboard can be recycled in the usual paper stream; the coatings do not interfere with this process. On the raw material side, too, the transition to circular processes offers considerable advantages. For instance, BYK uses an external service provider for the distillative recovery of an important raw material. Apart from avoiding around 200 tons of waste per year, this means that around 120 tons of raw material which meets the strict regulatory and quality requirements in all respects can be recovered. And because it uses less energy than the actual manufacturing process, the secondary raw material has a better carbon footprint than the primary one. The same concept is already being used successfully today for other materials. ALTANA sees this as a good opportunity to conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby promoting dialog with appropriate suppliers and service providers.
Regenerative and renewable raw materials also lead to improved eco balances. ELANTAS developed an epoxy system based on biobased building blocks. And in the year under review, BYK introduced further products that are based on up to 100% renewable raw materials and in some cases are fully biodegradable.
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).