Climate Neutrality by 2025: How ALTANA Will Achieve this Goal

ALTANA will become climate neutral by 2025. In concrete terms, this means that all ALTANA Group companies will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in production and energy procurement worldwide to zero by 2025. Compared to 2014, we have reduced our CO2 equivalents by over 70 percent.

December 2015, Paris: At the UN Climate Change Conference, 195 countries agreed to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius. The aim is to reduce the harm done to people and the environment. We can only reach this goal together. ALTANA has therefore set itself the goal of being climate-neutral by 2025. On the way to achieving this objective, the company is relying on a mix of measures: 

Energy efficiency improvement and new technologies

Own electricity and heat generation from climate-neutral sources

Compensation through climate protection projects

Energy efficiency improvement and new technologies

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ALTANA is focusing on improving its energy efficiency and on new technologies. To this end, the company regularly reviews its operating processes, plants, and machinery in order to identify and implement CO2 savings potential. One example is the optimization of thermal afterburning at its home site in Wesel. There, the BYK division has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 400 tons of CO2 equivalents by increasing the efficiency of heat generation from 85 to 95 percent. You can read about more projects in the “Environment” chapter of our Corporate Report.

Own electricity and heat generation from climate-neutral sources

Whether solar, hydropower, or biogas, all of our worldwide sites have been purchasing electricity from renewable sources since March 2020. At six sites, the ALTANA Group relies on its own generation of electricity and heat from renewable energy sources. In addition to the existing solar plants at ELANTAS in Ascoli Piceno and Collecchio in Italy, and at BYK in Deventer in the Netherlands, another photovoltaic plant was commissioned at ELANTAS in Pune, India, which meets the electricity needs of the new research center at this site.

ECKART has also started to generate electricity from hydropower, in Hartenstein, Germany, and at BYK in Denekamp, Netherlands, the go-ahead was given to operate a biogas plant. In total, ALTANA generates and uses 2,840 MWh/year from renewable energies, enough to supply around 100 single-family homes with energy. The ALTANA Group’s renewable energy generation at a glance:

Stronger and faster promotion of renewables needed for climate neutrality

ALTANA CEO Martin Babilas is playing a key role in driving the transformation to a climate-neutral company. For him, industry plays a decisive role in pushing forward climate protection worldwide. "The more companies that commit themselves to climate neutrality and create the relevant facts, the faster we can achieve the Paris climate protection targets,” he says.  However, he adds, policymakers should create an indispensable framework for this. The climate protection targets cannot be achieved without sufficient electricity from renewable energies at competitive prices and the corresponding grid infrastructure. Based on current calculations by the VCI, the German Chemical Industry Association, the annual electricity needs of the German chemical industry on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050 will increase to more than eleven times the 2018 value (54 TWh) to 628 TWh. 

“We are therefore calling on policymakers to promote renewable energies much more strongly and swiftly. Incentives must be created to ensure that sufficient electricity and heat capacities from CO2-neutral sources will continue to be available in the future,“ Babilas says. “New procedures must be accelerated by public subsidies and barriers to use and own production must be eliminated.“ Furthermore, policymakers should create comparable competitive conditions for the industry with internationally uniform CO2 pricing.

Compensation through climate protection projects

On the way to climate neutrality by 2025, the ALTANA Group is focusing on suppliers in addition to its own sites. In close cooperation with its suppliers, ALTANA is developing a program to consistently further improve the carbon footprint of purchased raw materials as well. In this way, the company is taking greenhouse gas emissions into account along the entire value chain.

ALTANA is offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be avoided by 2025, mainly from the use of natural gas, by financing equivalent climate protection projects in the regions where the greenhouse gas emissions occur. The same applies to compensation for greenhouse gas emissions from necessary business trips, company cars, and the transport of goods. As a result, ALTANA will achieve climate neutrality in its direct sphere of influence by 2025.

Climate neutrality by 2025: First production sites are CO2 free

And the mix of different measures is working, as illustrated by the ALTANA Group's first two CO2 -free sites, ACTEGA in Brazil and ECKART in China. At two other Asian sites, less than 10 tons of CO2 equivalents were emitted in each case in 2021. By comparison, the average CO2 footprint of a person in Germany is also around 10 tons.

Questions and answers on climate neutrality by 2025 at ALTANA

The neutral position encompasses the company’s own production, administration, and research. Included are greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels (primarily natural gas – 90 %) (Scope1), as well as indirect greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption, particularly in the form of electricity (96 %, Scope 2).

In addition, climate neutrality by 2025 includes the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from necessary business trips, company cars, and goods transport (Scope 3). All values are calculated in accordance with the international guidelines of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol).

We have implemented various measures to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from production and energy procurement (Scope 1 and 2). For example, switching our global electricity demand to green power in 2020 halved our emissions from 182,000 tons (2019) to 93,000 tons (2020) of CO2 equivalents. Furthermore, ALTANA will gradually offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated in Scope 1 and those generated by necessary business trips, company cars, and the transport of goods (Scope 3) until 2025. 

As a general rule, ALTANA as a specialty chemicals company has relatively low energy requirements compared with other companies in the chemical industry. The greenhouse gases emitted by ALTANA in relation to the volume produced are around 30 percent below the industry average. Nevertheless, we are pursuing the goal of using all energy sources efficiently in order to keep greenhouse gas emissions as low as possible and to increase the share of energy from renewable sources (for example, solar, wind, and water). As a consequence, we are minimizing our dependence on energy from fossil sources.

We have set ourselves the goal of reducing our already low energy requirements by a further two percent per year in relation to finished goods produced, even with rising sales.

We are consistently pursuing our sustainability course. In our plans to save energy, we rely on technically proven energy efficiency measures such as the use of even more efficient heating systems or the utilization of waste heat from production. Thanks to these measures, in 2017 we already achieved our self-imposed target of reducing CO2 emissions in relation to gross value added by 30 percent from 2007 to 2020. We are also continuing to step up the use of heat pumps and highly efficient electric motors.

In the coming years, ALTANA will deal with the future issue of hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas as an energy carrier. The decisive factor will be the availability of hydrogen from regenerative sources (for example photovoltaics, transport via pipeline, bulk delivery, and in-house production) in an economically viable manner.

ALTANA has always stood for sustainable profitable growth. Which is why we are investing in our future worldwide, despite the challenging market environment. This includes the implementation of climate neutrality. Even with increasing sales, we will be climate neutral by 2025. Thus, we are not only fulfilling our responsibility for climate protection, but also strengthening ALTANA as a company in the long term. Because we are convinced that we can only be economically successful in the long run if we keep ecological and social aspects in mind and firmly anchor them in our company.

Sustainability has been a growth area at ALTANA for many years now. Our solutions make everyday products better and more sustainable. There are already many examples of this today, and we are constantly working on new sustainable solutions for our customers.

Product innovations

As a matter of principle, we calculate our emissions as CO2 equivalents. But we include all greenhouse gas emissions emitted by ALTANA, not just CO2, in the calculation. Climate neutrality means that we set greenhouse gas emissions in our direct sphere of influence to zero.

In the case of unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions, we also rely on offsetting.

We proceed very carefully when selecting projects and are guided by common certifications such as the “Gold Standard”. ALTANA now supports corresponding initiatives in China in Hebei and Zhejiang provinces and in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. In India, for example, we support a project for generating energy from hydropower in the district of Kinnaur, and an initiative for sustainably generating electricity from wind in the Anantapur district.

At ALTANA, the operating companies are responsible for implementing and anchoring sustainability. The company’s goals for environmental and climate protection have been included in the calculation of the variable income of the top management since 2007. In this context, the managing directors of the different companies aim to continuously reduce the environmental impact of the company's business activities and to permanently improve safety at the respective sites. The individual sites are also responsible for introducing suitable management systems and having them certified. Furthermore, special cross-divisional expert platforms are used to exchange information on relevant topics and to highlight best-practice models. There are no geographical differences. The first CO2-free production sites are in China and Brazil. The goal of being climate-neutral by 2025 is also integrated into the individual target agreements. Implementation is coordinated by ALTANA’s corporate Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) competence center.

ALTANA intends to replace natural gas with renewable energies in the long term. However, this will take several years, as many of our production technologies are still based on this energy source.

9. When will the raw materials that ALTANA purchases also be climate neutral?

Not all raw materials of fossil origin can be replaced immediately. It depends on the suppliers and, very significantly, on policy, for example the availability of electricity from renewable energies at competitive prices as well as the corresponding grid infrastructure.

But many of our products are already making industry more CO2-neutral today. An example from our ACTEGA division is ACTGreen® overprint varnishes. The latter include products based on recycled raw materials of fossil origin and bio-based materials, as well as coatings based on renewable raw materials in the form of plant-based resins.

Our colleagues are encouraged to travel in the most climate friendly way possible. When company vehicles are required, we create incentives for the use of models that reduce the amount of CO2 emitted.