Sustainability Report 2019/2020

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Creating tomorrow’s solutions

Sustainable Products

Our planet’s climate is changing. Climate change affects the environment, the economy, and society, as well as our living conditions. We meet these challenges with innovative technologies that save energy and conserve resources.

WACKER contributes to sustainability through a diverse array of products, addressing global future topics such as renewable energy sources, future cities, digitalization, mobility and health, as well as quality of life. The transformation of the value-creation chain into a circular economy will play an increasing role. Together with customers and partners, WACKER is working on recyclable products.

Renewable Energy

WACKER supports energy generation, for example from wind and hydropower. Here are a few examples:

  • Some of our room-temperature-vulcanizing (RTV) silicone rubber compounds of the ELASTOSIL® RT class are particularly suitable for producing hydropower generators.
  • ELASTOSIL® Solar is used for bonding photovoltaic components and ensures a long lifetime under variable climatic conditions and strong sunlight exposure. 
  • HDK® pyrogenic silica is used in applications for bonding the rotor blades of wind turbines and anchoring them in the foundation. 

As one of the largest global suppliers of polysilicon for the manufacture of solar modules, we support the switch to renewable energy sources. In the period under review, we joined the Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance initiative. The quantity of solar silicon produced in each case saves an equivalent of 466 million metric tons of CO2 as a result of renewable energy. WACKER’s polysilicon has the lowest specific CO2 emissions in production and is particularly efficient compared to conventional power generation via fossil energy sources. The CO2 emitted by our production plants is consequently 50 percent lower than in Chinese production.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) is an innovative technology in which the sunlight is concentrated via parabolic mirrors and converted into heat. This heat can be used directly as an energy source for processes or fed into power networks. WACKER offers HELISOL® as a heat-transfer fluid. Case study: a solar thermal power plant in Antwerp, Belgium, which uses this product replaces an annual gas consumption of 500 MWh with solar power. 

Future Cities

Over half of people now live in cities – posing new challenges for our communal life. The quality required by the construction sector is increasing both for new buildings and for the conservation of existing ones. Consequently, great emphasis is being placed on efficient construction methods, sustainability and high-tech construction materials. WACKER, as an important partner of the construction industry, has consistently aligned its product portfolio to support these trends. Our infrastructure must consume fewer resources, construction methods must become smarter, and materials more lightweight. Dispersible polymer powders and dispersions from WACKER improve the longevity of construction materials, lengthening intervals between renovations and thereby reducing resource consumption.

With our construction chemicals, we contribute to the development of cities with a high quality of life, thereby also supporting UN sustainable development goals SDG 11, SDG 12 and SDG 13 when it comes to climate-protection measures. Here are a few case studies:

  • Climate change will make it necessary to insulate buildings from heat as well as cold (web content available in German only). At our Dubai technical center, we use a model house to demonstrate how our technologies help to save energy and improve the air quality in the house. 
  • The requirements on a modern exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS/ETICS) include adhesion between inorganic and organic elements, protection from moisture, and resistance to widely different weather conditions, fire and mechanical stress. VINNAPAS® binders in the bonding and embedding mortar contribute to good adhesion to substrates, improve the mortar flexibility, increase the durability of the EIFS/ETICS and flexibly compensate for the different coefficients of expansion of the materials used. 
  • Our dispersible polymer powders, such as VINNAPAS® H and VINNAPAS® E Class, contribute to protecting buildings by rendering the topcoat water-repellent and resistant to weathering. The dispersible polymer powder VINNAPAS® 7150 E forms the basis of efficient waterproofing membranes. This dispersible powder, approved for use with drinking water by the German Institute for Risk Assessment, is free of solvents and does not use plasticizers or film-forming agents, and does not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It can be used to formulate recipes that have very low emission values (placing them in the EMICODE® EC1 emissions category set by Germany’s GEV (Association for the Control of Emissions in Products for Flooring Installation)).
  • Modern construction methods save time and conserve resources without affecting the functionality. For example, the polymeric binder VINNAPAS® 8812 T, besides good non-slump properties, also provides tile adhesives and wall troweling compounds with very good water resistance – the prerequisite for use in wet areas through to swimming pools.
  • To create a healthy indoor climate, we supply binders for paints made without formaldehyde-emitting substances or APEO-based surfactants (alkylphenol ethoxylates), and with only minimal amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VINNAPAS® EP 3560 is a vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) dispersion that enables wall paints to meet the requirements of various ecolabels, such as the “Nordic Ecolabelling for Indoor Paints and Varnishes.” Paint makers now have a product that can help them meet the growing demand for lower-emission paints. 
  • Paints and plasters, too, play a crucial role in protection and in maintaining a building’s insulating properties. SILRES® BS silicone resins are the basis of silicone resin emulsion paints that, with their high water-vapor permeability and low water absorption, increase the energy saving potential of insulated facades. The facades remain dry for longer and increase their energy saving potential by up to 40 percent. SILRES® BS can extend the renovation cycle of facades by up to 25 years.
  • Poorly insulated windows are responsible for 20 to 30 percent of heating energy losses. ELASTOSIL® silicone rubber seals windows, is weather-resistant and withstands temperature fluctuations. With ELASTOSIL® eco (4000, 4100, 7000N, 7100P, 7750N), we offer a range for joint sealants in which up to 100 percent of the fossil-derived ingredients have been offset with plant-based raw materials. 

Mobility

We actively support climate-friendly mobility – whether in battery research or as a manufacturer of high-tech materials for electric vehicles. After all, the transformation from combustion engines to electric vehicles is one of the most important approaches to reducing CO2 emissions. Here are a few case studies:

  • Gap fillers minimize the thermal resistance between electronic components and heat sinks. They protect, for example, drive batteries and power electronics in electric cars against overheating. We provide the thermal interface materials (TIMs) required for this in the form of our SEMICOSIL® TC product line. 
  • Low-temperature elastic silicone gel of the SEMICOSIL® LT product line protects the control electronics for the drives of electric rail vehicles, permitting reliable rail operation even in extreme climatic zones.
  • It is crucial for the required batteries to be lightweight to ensure high efficiency and sustainable use of electric vehicles. Silicon’s storage capacity for lithium ions is almost ten times that of graphite, and it thus offers huge potential for weight reduction. We are working on materials for this together with the UK battery specialist Nexeon Ltd. 
  • Fuel-cell technology permits cleaner mobility compared to combustion engines. Ultrathin ELASTOSIL® Film – a grade of silicone film – is used to seal fuel-cell stacks. Multiple fuel cells are combined in a stack to generate more energy together. 

Health and Quality of Life

Affluence is on the rise in many parts of the world. As a result, standards for health, nutrition and quality of life are also increasing. WACKER is spearheading innovations to meet these expectations sustainably. We want growth in standards of living – particularly in emerging markets – to be supported by our energy-saving and resource-efficient products.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it only too clear to us how important it is to be healthy. WACKER also has extensive expertise in the fields of health and nutrition. The raw materials, technologies and products that WACKER supplies make a key contribution toward ensuring sound health and – highly topical – combating Covid-19.

Pharmaceutical Actives

As a CDMO (contract development and manufacturing organization), Wacker Biotech combines the Group’s biopharmaceutical activities. Since the period under review, we have marketed our technology platform for developing and manufacturing live microbial products (LMPs) under the trade name LIBATEC®. LMPs are a highly promising class of actives. They enable new therapies, for example for combating cancer, healing infectious, metabolic, inflammatory and dermatological diseases, and for disease prevention.

Wacker Biotech’s Amsterdam site has been producing vaccines for clinical development and commercial supply for 20 years. The portfolio ranges from conventional live and killed vaccines to protein-based, polysaccharide and glycoconjugate vaccines. It is more sustainable to produce vaccines using bacterial systems than, for example, using chicken eggs. In the period under review, we expanded our portfolio with new classes of actives. We invested in our Amsterdam site to produce mRNA-based vaccines there. 

In the period under review, we acquired 100 percent of the shares in the pharmaceutical contract manufacturer Genopsis Inc., based in San Diego, California, USA, and renamed it Wacker Biotech US Inc. We are using the acquired pDNA technology (plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid) to develop nucleic acid-based gene therapies and vaccines.

Food

Healthy nutrition is key to a healthy life. WACKER contributes to this, for example, with ingredients that improve heart health and lower blood cholesterol and sugar level. Our portfolio includes the nature-identical hydroxytyrosol HTEssence® and the highly bioavailable coenzyme Q10 CAVAQ10®.

CAVACURMIN® is a complex of cyclodextrins and curcumin that is more readily soluble in water. It is a plant-based dietary supplement that improves the absorption of curcumin in the human body. Curcumin, the biologically active constituent in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

For manufacturing vegan foods, we offer high-quality, certified products. For example, WACKER’s CAVAMAX® brand of alpha-dextrin is used as a substitute for eggs in baked goods or in barista toppings.

Drip irrigation systems with ELASTOSIL® LR silicone membranes permit water for plants to be metered with pinpoint-accuracy. Water is delivered directly to the roots, which enables economical management of agricultural soil in particularly arid areas.

Quality of Life

Our LIOSIL® range of silicone additives is used in a variety of applications, for example in the household and personal care industries. Silicone fluids and silicone emulsions improve textile and surface care agents and enhance sanitary papers. We label our additives LIOSIL® eco based on a resource- and climate-friendly mass-balance method as.

In our biomethanol-based production process, up to 100 percent of the fossil-derived ingredients are offset with plant-based raw materials. We also employ the biomass balance method to make products under the BELSIL® eco brand for the cosmetics industry.

Digitalization

With SEMICOSIL® Electronic Silanes, WACKER has developed a diverse array of products that ensure reliable functioning of components used in electrical, electronic and lighting applications, and have been qualified by international chip manufacturers. For this product range, we use high-purity chemicals, which we obtain by distillation of side streams from silicone production. This is a tried-and-true example of how we reclaim materials and reduce waste through our integrated production system.