Shaping a circular future together

Covestro supports climate targets of the automotive industry

  • Innovative material solutions promote Circular Economy
  • Market launch of the world's first climate-neutral polycarbonate
  • Use of alternative raw materials and energies
  • Chemical and mechanical recycling technologies
 

The automotive industry is currently facing major challenges: It has to do its share to meet the European Union's stricter climate targets, preserve natural resources and increase the lifespan of vehicles. Concurrently, consumers' demands regarding the design, comfort and functionality of automobiles are also increasing. Covestro is working towards innovative and more sustainable material solutions and recycling technologies to meet these requirements and build a Circular Economy, and will be showcasing them at the VDI PIAE 2021 international trade congress on September 8 and 9.

"Our aim is to introduce the world's first climate-neutral polycarbonate plastics this year," Jochen Hardt, Marketing Mobility Covestro, told media representatives. "This is an important step in achieving our vision of becoming fully circular. At the same time, we offer products and solutions that combine outstanding performance, cost efficiency and sustainability designed to help our customers in the mobility industry succeed in achieving their sustainability goals."

World's first climate-neutral polycarbonate

The polycarbonates are climate neutral "from the cradle to the factory gate1" thanks to the introduction of raw materials sourced from mass-balanced biowaste and residues2, as well as renewable energy accumulated during the production process. Covestro is already offering ISCC Plus-certified polycarbonates, which are attributed to renewable raw materials using the mass balance approach and enable a considerable reduction in the carbon footprint.

By incorporating renewable energy, Covestro will probably fully reduce CO₂ emissions from the cradle to the factory gate for these selected products. The products have the same high quality and performance as fossil-based polycarbonates and are a drop-in replacement without having to change existing processes or workflows.

Covestro has also collaborated with partners to develop polyurethane raw materials in which up to 20 percent of the petroleum-based raw materials previously used are replaced by the climate gas CO₂. Applications of such polyols, called cardyon®, are also currently being developed in the automotive sector. Partially bio-based precursors for automotive clear coatings from the Desmodur® N range also contribute to circularity as alternative raw materials.

Innovative recycling technologies

Plastics recyclates are an important building block in significantly reducing a car's carbon footprint from raw material and component production through the use phase to recycling. In addition, Covestro is increasingly driving forward the development of chemical recycling technologies. A decisive factor in the success of such developments is that the products satisfy the high quality requirements and specifications of the automotive industry. Covestro supports the mechanical and chemical recycling of plastics through its role as a member in associations such as the Circularise Plastics project group. This group's goal is to establish a new standard for the traceability of plastics back to the raw material.


1 Cradle-to-Gate is an assessment of a partial product lifecycle from resource extraction (cradle) to the factory gate. This assessment is based on Covestro's internal calculations and is currently being externally validated.
2 The calculation of the carbon footprint takes biogenic carbon uptake into account.

  • Production waste is a valuable raw material
  • Reprocessing on an industrial scale possible
  • Contribution to more sustainability and resource conservation

The Maezio® brand of continuous fiber-reinforced polycarbonate composites (CFRTPs) developed by Covestro are characterized by their extremely light weight, very high strength and exceptional flexibility of design. This means that waste generated during the production of composites also becomes a valuable raw material. However, because they consist of different materials that cannot be easily separated from one another, the recycling of composites is a challenge. Covestro is cooperating with recycling specialist carboNXT® on this. It has developed a process that allows the waste to be processed on an industrial scale.

"We are very excited about this joint solution, as we cannot process the materials ourselves for technical reasons," explains Lisa Ketelsen, Head of Thermoplastic Composites at Covestro. "By recycling according to type at our partner's plant, the raw materials can be converted back into valuable products with similarly good properties as those characteristic of virgin materials. The recycling of materials makes it possible to use them again in other products. In this way, we save raw material resources and contribute to the focus on the circular economy."

"Our company has many years of experience in recycling carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastics and has the necessary plant technologies to process such waste. We were therefore the partner of choice for this task," says Tim Rademacker, general manager at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and responsible for the carbon fiber recycling business. "From the processed waste, we produce high-quality new compounds of carbon fiber-reinforced polycarbonate for Covestro at CarboNXT®."

Demand for such recycled products is high because they are valuable raw materials, but also because more and more industrial customers and consumers are looking for more sustainable products. The project will now be further developed to market maturity by Covestro, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and possibly other partners. It is part of a global strategic program with which Covestro is focusing all its energy on the circular economy.


About Covestro:

With 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion, Covestro is among the world’s leading polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. In doing so, Covestro is fully committed to the circular economy. The main industries served are the automotive and transportation industries, construction, furniture and wood processing, as well as electrical, electronics, and household appliances industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. At the end of 2020, Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,500 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).

Find more information at www.covestro.com

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Forward-looking statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.