Specialty chemicals company Lanxess has set itself an ambitious climate protection target. By 2040, the group intends to become climate neutral and eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions from around 3.2 million metric tons of CO2e today.
Cologne/Germany — Under the Paris agreement, the global community decided to limit global warming to less than two degrees. This requires massive efforts on the part of everyone involved. Lanxess is also committed to this goal and wants to become carbon neutral by 2040. To this end, the company is taking a three-pronged approach: In addition to climate protection projects, this includes decoupling emissions and growth as well as strengthening process and technology innovations.
Over the next few years, the company will put into action special projects to significantly lower greenhouse gases. For example, the Group is currently building a facility for the decomposition of nitrous oxide at its Antwerp, Belgium, site. The new facility will begin operations in 2020 and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by around 150,000 metric tons of CO2e. After a second expansion in 2023, CO2e emissions will fall by another 300,000 metric tons.
In addition, the group is switching the entire energy supply at its Indian sites to renewable energy sources. There, the Group is massively expanding its supply of biomass and solar power and will no longer use coal or gas in the future. This will cut CO2e emissions by a further 150,000 metric tons from 2024. With these projects and other measures, the company will decrease its CO2e emissions by a total of 800,000 metric tons by 2025, investing up to $ 110 million in the process.
Decoupling Emissions and Growth
Lanxess is on growth course. But despite increasing production volumes, emissions of greenhouse gases in the individual business units are set to decline. In addition to technological efficiency, changes to governance instruments play a role, with the impact on the company’s carbon footprint becoming an investment criterion for organic growth and acquisitions. This gives business units that achieve better than average reductions in greenhouse gas emissions a direct financial advantage. Moreover, lowering CO2e will be introduced as an assessment criterion in the bonus system for managers.
Strengthening Process and Technological Innovations
Lanxess is revising many of its existing production processes in order to become climate neutral by 2040. For example, the Group will continue to improve its “Verbund” structures, e.g., when it comes to heat exchange between plants and air purification. Other procedures must first be developed on an industrial scale. The Group is therefore focussing its research more closely towards climate neutral process and technological innovation.
50 % Decrease in Greenhouse Gases Since Company Established
Since it was founded, Lanxess has made substantial progress on its way to becoming more environmentally friendly. Between 2004 and 2018, the Group halved its greenhouse gas emissions from around 6.5 million metric tons of CO2e to about 3.2 million metric tons. Substantial contribution came from a nitrous oxide reduction plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany, commissioned in 2009. The project has received multiple awards, including in the “365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas” competition and the “VCI Responsible Care Award North Rhine-Westphalia”. The specialty chemicals company has also carried out numerous other projects to lower emissions at its sites around the world and supports local initiatives to tackle climate change. Lanxess has already achieved its previous targets of improving energy efficiency in conjunction with reducing specific CO2 emissions and emissions of volatile organic compounds by 25 % each against 2015.
To measure its emissions, the company looks at the emissions of greenhouse gases defined in the Kyoto Protocol and calculates their greenhouse effect in comparison to carbon dioxide (CO2e). The specialty chemicals company includes emissions from its own production (Scope 1) and from external energy sources (Scope 2) in the calculation.