Sustainability Report 2019/2020

Creating tomorrow’s solutions

Introduction by the President & CEO

Portrait of Dr. Christian Hartel (President and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG) (Photo)
Dr. Christian Hartel
President and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG

Dear Reader,

Sustainability has top priority at WACKER and has been a core component of our strategy for years. I am convinced that our future will be decided by the sustainability of our actions. For us, sustainable management stands or falls with the consistency of our actions – at all levels of the value -creation process. That is why the targets we have set ourselves cover all three levels of this process.

First, we are developing sustainable products for our customers. By 2030, 90 percent of our products are to make a neutral or positive contribution to sustainability; by 2050 at the latest, that will apply to our entire product range.

Second, we are significantly improving our ecological footprint in production. This includes raising process efficiency at our plants and reducing energy and raw-material consumption. By 2030, we aim to cut our specific carbon footprint by a third and halve our specific energy demand. In order to reach these targets, we are working to partially restructure our processes and our integrated production system.

Third, we are focusing on our entire supply chain in order to make production permanently carbon neutral. Our goal is for 90 percent of our key suppliers to deliver a positive contribution to sustainability. By 2050 at the latest, that figure is to rise to 100 percent.

We are looking into how we can meet our goals sooner than currently planned.

Our products are a key aspect on the path toward a climate-neutral future. Take polysilicon, for example. One year’s production of our high-quality material for sustainable solar energy enables our customers to avoid 466 million metric tons of CO2  emissions. That is equivalent to 30 years of CO2 emissions for a city like Hamburg, with a population of over 1.8 million.

Our dispersible polymer powders are another example: 30 grams per square meter can replace 10 kilograms of thick-bed mortar made of sand and cement, lowering CO2 emissions by 2.4 kilograms per square meter. These examples underscore our aspiration to provide answers to the big challenges of the future. The key to climate-preserving production is the electrification of our production processes. Today, 60 percent of our processes are already electrified,putting us in a better position than many other chemical companies.

But we want to achieve more, which is why we are developing new ideas. What do we have planned specifically? We want to use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen at Burghausen, our biggest site. Together with our partners, we have submitted a funding application to the EU for a project to build a 20-megawatt electrolysis plant. The plant will use water and electricity from renewable sources to produce green hydrogen.

A further step is construction of a synthesis plant, where green hydrogen will be used to transform carbon dioxide from other production processes into renewable methanol. Compared with existing production processes, that will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80 percent. We have cleared the first hurdle: the project, called RHYME Bavaria, has reached the second round of the EU funding process. If this pioneering project is chosen, construction of the plant could already start in early 2023. This example shows that we are actively helping shape the transition to climate neutrality.

Without chemicals, it will not be possible to solve the problems of our time – neither the fight against the coronavirus, nor the digital transformation, nor climate change. We are sending out clear signals: in June 2021, we were one of the first companies in the German chemical industry to join Foundation 2°, an initiative to lend even more momentum to sustainable management in the corporate world. We at WACKER stand for the future – and for the optimism to shape it.

Munich, July 2021

Dr. Christian Hartel
President and CEO of Wacker Chemie AG