The circular economy is an important economic factor and contributes significantly to conserving resources and protecting the climate. Our integrated production system is a crucial basis for the efficient use of resources and energy.
In a circular economy, materials are reused, reprocessed and recycled for as long as possible in order to prolong the life cycle of the products. Waste is thereby reduced to a minimum. We are taking this opportunity to minimize our ecological footprint.
Use of Renewable Resources
With our product portfolio, we are steadily increasing the use of biobased raw materials. One approach here is to replace fossil raw materials with identical materials from renewable sources. With the biomass balance method, we have launched alternative lines in key product groups, in which we replace fossil raw materials with certified sustainable biomass. WACKER is thus the first chemical company to replace the fossil-based organic component in sealants with plant-based materials.
Examples of our product ranges certified to REDcert2, in which biobased raw materials are used in production:
- ELASTOSIL® eco (construction)
- VINNECO® (construction applications, coatings, adhesives, carpets, nonwovens and fibers)
- LIOSIL® eco (household and personal care)
- BELSIL® eco REG 1102 (cosmetics, personal care)
Biomass Balance Method
The biomass balance method allows the proportion of renewable raw materials to be allocated to particular sales products where renewable and conventional raw materials, the latter usually obtained from fossil sources, are both used as feedstocks within an integrated production system.
WACKER uses the biomass balance method to manufacture products based on renewable raw materials. Instead of methanol or acetic acid from fossil raw materials, we use biomethanol and biobased acetic acid. The raw materials used are derived exclusively from waste streams, correspondingly certified and purchased from regional producers. We thereby increase the share of renewable raw materials in our supply chain, reduce the carbon footprint of purchased raw materials and so help enable our customers to make fossil-free products for their markets.
In the period under review, the TÜV Nord technical inspectorate certified WACKER’s biomass balance method for verifying renewable raw materials in production. In the test according to the REDcert2 Standard, we have shown that the amount of renewable raw materials required for the sales products is fed into production and the corresponding amount of fossil raw materials has thus been replaced. Certification requires the purchased biobased raw materials to have been produced sustainably and the feedstocks to come from certified sustainable sources. This is continually checked by means of annual recertification.
Product Examples of the Biomass Balance Method
WACKER already uses this certified method for manufacturing biomethanol-based silicone products for the textile, paper and consumer goods industries. In the case of ELASTOSIL® eco, we offset all the organic ingredients of the ready-to-use silicone sealant with methanol from biomass.
With our LIOSIL® eco product family, we employ our biomethanol-based production process in the field of household applications. We replace the fossil components required in its production entirely with certified plant-based raw materials.
The VINNECO® brand is used to market our VAE-polymer-based binders produced using biobased acetic acid. The biobased acetic acid used in production is generated as a byproduct of the wood-processing industry, for example in pulp manufacture. The wood itself originates from sustainably managed forests. The biobased acetic acid is certified in accordance with the international standard Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC®).
Creating Sustainable Material Cycles
Another way to analyze our material cycles and test out alternatives is to cooperate with external partners. We support a project by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) to set up an innovation platform for sustainable construction. Funding the “ChangeLab! WACKER / KIT Innovation Platform for Pioneering Sustainable Construction” is aimed both at the institute’s students and at architects, engineers and construction experts seeking to learn about and discuss new ideas and conceptual approaches in the fields of materials development and sustainable construction.
We are cooperating with leading label manufacturers in CELAB (Circular Economy for Self-Adhesive Labels), a recycling initiative for release liners. Future recycling of coated wastepaper is to be achieved by creating a collection system and a sustainable circular economy. Under its brand name DEHESIVE®, WACKER manufactures silicone release agents that are used to coat such release paper. We have successfully tested the recycling processes within a pilot project at our Burghausen site.
Our approach to the circular economy includes spearheading packaging for our products. For example, in the period under review, we conducted a pilot project at the Burghausen site, to switch the material used in transport bags for dispersible polymer powder from bleached to unbleached paper in 2020. Our suppliers recorded a reduction in CO2 emissions of 60 percent for the manufacture of these more tear-resistant and less expensive bags compared to the paper that had been used previously.