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Sustainability in Action – The ACC Sustainability Leadership Awards

A roundup of all the winners of the American Chemistry Council's Sustainability Leadership Awards, including Covestro, Dow, DuPont, Evonik, SABIC and WM.

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Sustainability presents different challenges for different organizations. For this episode, we partnered with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to share the stories of companies that have been recognized for the efforts when it comes to sustainability. For today’s show, we conducted quick, 10-minute interviews with representatives from each of the winning organizations. Winners of the ACC’s Sustainability Leadership Awards for 2023 include:




(Note: This transcript was creating using artificial intelligence. It has not been edited verbatim.)


Rebecca Lucore, Ganesh Nagarajan, Adwoa Coleman, Anson Wong, Wolfgang Goertz, Matthew Marks, Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon  00:00

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Hello everyone and welcome to the Sustainability SmartPod. Sustainability presents different challenges for different organizations. And since one of the goals of this show is to share sustainability strategies and ideas from an array of industries, today’s episode is going to have a unique format. We partnered with the American Chemistry Council or ACC, to share the stories of companies that have been recognized for their efforts when it comes to sustainability. Each year companies compete in various categories for the accs sustainability Leadership Awards. So today, we’re gonna hear from each of the winners for 2023. The list of award winners includes Covestro, DuPont, Dow, Evonik, SABIC, and WM. For today’s show, we conducted quick 10 minute interviews with representatives from each of these winning organizations. If you want to learn more about the awards, or ACC’s overall sustainability programs, check out the links in the show notes. Right now, let’s get the show started with the first winner.

Okay, everyone now I’m joined by Rebecca Lucore. Rebecca is the head of sustainability and corporate social responsibility for Covestro and the United States. Rebecca, how are you doing today?

Rebecca Lucore

I’m great. How are you?

I’m doing fantastic. We’re here to talk about the award you won for the American Chemistry Council sustainability Leadership Awards. Covesto won the social responsibility and community engagement Award. He tell us a little bit more about the product that got that award for you.

Rebecca Lucore  02:37

Absolutely. Yeah, it’s it’s really exciting for us because it’s something that we worked on really hard. And I think we’ve seen a lot of great results in community engagement from so we’ve launched something back in 2017, called THINC30. THINC stands for transforming, harnessing, innovating, navigating, collaborating for a sustainable future by 2030. And what it is, it’s a CSR platform. It’s a thought leadership event that really introduced the Pittsburgh community. And then, in years after the broader communities, to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It’s about letting people know about the 17 goals, how we can work together, looking at opportunities and challenges and communities across all sectors and a very diverse group of people. Alright, so

Sean McMahon  03:25

what specific challenge did this product address? It sounds like you’re just trying to get everyone literally on the same platform. But you know, what were some of the challenges in achieving that? Well,

Rebecca Lucore  03:35

the first thing was, we noticed back at the beginning of this in 2017, Covestro had been a global initiator and signer on to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But here in Pittsburgh, which is our headquarters region, in the US that you want, goals weren’t really being talked about. We were very engaged at that time in the community and working with partnerships across sectors. But we would bring up the goals and not a lot of people knew about them. So we thought, you know, we have an opportunity here, and a responsibility to maybe introduce them to the region and kind of gather people around them. And it was really a grassroots initiative. And it was fantastic. Because we brought local leaders together from business from academia and government, philanthropy, we had nonprofits there, as well as just general engaged citizens. I wanted to learn more about them, embrace them and really act on them. And the thing I loved most about it, and we were very purposeful on was not just bringing the community leaders that are always out there speaking like the kind of the well known leaders that show up at all the events, but there was a lot of good work going on in communities, and a lot of leadership from people that aren’t as well known. And this was their opportunity to bring them in to talk about the good work they’re doing.

Sean McMahon  04:56

Yeah, it sounds like you had a lot of engagement from various stakeholders at the ice levels. And then like you said, kind of grassroots. So in one of the ways is Covestro, measuring the success of 30?

Rebecca Lucore  05:06

Well, we really hoped through this, that we would see people starting to engage and implement the UN goals as part of their strategy. So the two measurements here, the one was, the amount of people that showed up in came to our events. So we actually started the first two in person we had between 250 to 300. At the first event, we had over 300. At the second event, then we slowly had to pivot like the whole world did when the pandemic hit. And we went to virtual events, and we paired them down a little bit. But we’ve stayed engaged since 2017. And we’ve had over 2000, plus individuals engaging in virtual and in person events over the years. And the thing that’s been so exciting, and I would say has definitely been on the chart for success is after we launched the two first in person, we saw local universities, and we saw large economic transformation organizations, and we saw nonprofits, all of a sudden have curriculum, or strategies or programmatic content around the UN goals. And they started using these goals as a roadmap for sustainability thinking in their organizations. And that’s what we wanted. That’s what it was all about. It was about introducing engaging, and getting organizations to really rally around the goals and use them as a roadmap.

Sean McMahon  06:34

Are there any specific sustainable development goals that you target with these programs? Obviously, there’s a lot of them, and some of them are probably easier for your group like Covestro to target than others? So have you broken it down that way? Are you still taking like a holistic approach,

Rebecca Lucore  06:47

we really do take a holistic approach. Obviously, there are programs that are more closely related to what we do, then I would say the most important goal is number 17. By far, and that’s partnerships for the goal, can’t do any of this achieve any of this alone. That’s that’s something we’ve we’ve proved for this and bringing such a diverse audience and, and groups together. And what I’ve really liked about these conversations, and you know, for Covestro, and for the industry that we’re in, is we do not shy away from uncomfortable conversations, we brought organizations that may not always be on the same page as US may not always want to speak around problems the same way we do or opportunities. And we brought everyone to the table, and we had really open engaging good conversations. And that was really important to us. Because, you know, we want to be a part of that we don’t want other organizations talking about, you know, maybe some some challenges that they might see in our industry without us being part of the conversation. So it was really beneficial to bring everyone together and just be open and have those good conversations together. And we have ended up partnering with some of these organizations now in you know, in doing work,

Sean McMahon  08:02

what were some of the most difficult topics to start talking about.

Rebecca Lucore  08:05

The two first events we talked a lot about, we had some at the time, it was a CEO of the Sierra Club, and we talked about clean air and water. And, you know, we got into some for Pittsburgh, clean air has always been an issue part of it’s our geography and how we’re, we’re kind of sandwiched in with, you know, some mountain ranges. But some of its, you know, environmental and there’s some organizations, nonprofits doing some really good work that are really passionate about it. But it was really good for us and other industry to engage with him and talk about things. And we had some really good conversations.

Sean McMahon  08:42

That sounds great. So how does THINC30 fit into pedestrians overall sustainability goals? Obviously, it’s your global company. So where does this fit into that whole matrix?

Rebecca Lucore  08:51

This is a US based, really started in Pittsburgh, but now is we’ve been able, when we pivoted and went virtual, we were able to incorporate some global speakers and global participants from our other sites around the world, other parts of the country. So while we lost the, you know, we lost the great energy that you get for an in person event, we were able to broaden the event to include more voices and people. But for us, this is really the platform of our corporate social responsibility program in the US, it’s we know we do a lot around volunteerism, and we have our donations program and we have our workforce development STEM education. This is kind of our heart of it or community engagement where we can be a thought leader on important topics and a convener and a conductor. We’re always very purposeful about connecting diverse groups together, and making sure all voices are represented. And I think something that we are really good about the thing 30 really targeted and allowed us to do was when we’re having conversations about topics and creating change that’s needed in a community You can’t not have at the table, the people that are most affected by the outcomes of those discussions. And we see that a lot. But we’re very purposeful about making sure they have a voice at a table, even if it’s about, you know, clean energy jobs and you know, great opportunities and new maybe training programs to put people into those jobs. And sometimes without the realization, when you actually talk to the people that would benefit and you and you understand from them that where they’re located, there’s no public transportation to get to the training or the jobs. So they can’t really, you know, they have to take three buses or, or they can’t get to the institution that’s providing the training. So it’s really we’ve always been very purposeful about including their voices also. So we’re understanding, you know, holistically what the challenges are.

Sean McMahon  10:50

Yeah, well, I commend you on getting down to that grassroots level. And you don’t even think about those issues, right? If you think about job training, some folks don’t even realize like, oh, or they think, hey, well offer the program. And that’s good enough. It’s like, Well, where is it? Exactly at? You know,

Rebecca Lucore  11:02

yeah. And can they end with pop every city is different with public transportation? Can the people that would most benefit from that training? Can they even get there? You know, and so you look at adapting, okay, we need to bring the training to them. We need to meet them halfway, or we need to come to them and, and then it works. Well,

Sean McMahon  11:19

that’s a great realization. And it sounds like it’s one that THINC30 helped you in the team at Covestro. Realize, so thank you very much for sharing information about this platform, and congratulations on the award.

Rebecca Lucore  11:29

Thank you. Yeah, we really appreciate it. We hope to continue the discussions and continue to engage in transformational work in our communities.

Sean McMahon  11:44

I’m now joined by Ganesh Nagarajan. From WM, and Adwoa Coleman from Dow. Their two companies combined to win the external collaborator award from the ACC’s Sustainability Leadership Awards. Ganesh, Adwoa, how are you doing today?

Ganesh Nagarajan  12:00

Are you good? Thanks, Sean.

Adwoa Coleman  12:02

Thank you for having us. Sure.

Sean McMahon  12:03

Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you. Obviously, you know, too well known companies like yours collaborating is a positive thing. So much so that you won an award here. Can you give us a brief description or overview of what the initiative that your firms collaborated on?

Ganesh Nagarajan  12:16

Sure, Sean, I’ll start off here. Yeah, WM and Dow right. I know, it’s a bold collaboration initiative to improve residential recycling for heart to recycled plastic firms, by allowing customers and select market areas to recycle materials that are directly into the curbside recycling, right? If you look at the statistics, right, according to the recycling partnership, lay about 1.9% of US households have access to curbside recycling for film, it’s one of the plastic materials with the lowest recycling rate. Currently, film is there as a contaminant in the bins whether we like it or not, the objective for us is really to pull out those film streams from the curbside recycling bins through investments in new technology, you know, and then eventually expand this program to allow residents to intentionally recycling curbside bins. So what this does is it allows us to unlock supply to meet the demand for recycled materials. Now, if you look at the commitments that are made by the brand owners, and the investments that are announced, or plan or by year 2030, you will need roughly about 14 million metric tons of feedstock to meet that demand, compared to about 3 million metric tons that we are recycling today. So there is obviously a huge gap, right, we got to bridge that gap. You know, film, as I mentioned, is one of the lowest recycled material. Only 45% of the film that’s recycled, is recycled out of the 10 million metric tons of plastic waste that’s generated. So this program, you know, once it’s fully operational at full capacity, it’s our intent to divert roughly about 120,000 metric tons of plastic firms from landfills annually. So this is a brand new collaboration, right? If it’ll get access to, like I said, once it’s done, probably perhaps reach about 8% of the households.

Sean McMahon  14:13

And what specific aspect for this initiative is the biggest challenge to overcome? Is it getting residential homeowners to participate? Is it kind of the logistics of gathering it all? What is it?

Ganesh Nagarajan  14:22

Yeah, it’s all the above, right? You know, for many years, we were educating the residents not to put film in the beds. As I said, film is known to be a contaminant in our plastic streams. Right now we are telling the customers to put film in, right. So I think it’s a it’s a big, big change. And then, you know, it’s from community to community. The standards vary, right from one company to another recycling company. The standards vary, right. So I think having different standards across the country, you know, it’s a huge problem for people and I think really, ultimately for all of us to have a sustainable program right now not only we need to be collecting this firms and try to recycle this firms, we need to have a viable in market. I think that’s why this collaboration with the Dow is important, trying to make sure there is a viable end market, which is sustainable at the end of the day for communities and the residents to keep supporting this recycling programs.

Sean McMahon  15:21

Okay, then, from Dow’s perspective, what’s the biggest sustainability challenge this is trying to address?

Adwoa Coleman  15:27

I think Ganesh has covered quite well, some of the reasons why we got into this collaboration and why it’s important. But what I was specifically like to add is that flexible packaging, because it is widely not accepted and curbside today, then by and large ends up in the landfill, which is not something that we want to see happen long term not just for films, but for other materials where we could potentially enable circularity or bring back into the loop in a circular economy. So this project directly addresses that aspect of recovering materials that could maintain their value throughout their lifecycle, unintentionally ending up in a landfill or being considered waste. And the role that Tao will play here as part of the collaboration is to help to develop that space, that technical space to allow for flexible plastics that have made it post to use post consumer use to actually end up back into new products and back into our house potential.

Ganesh Nagarajan  16:34

We see this as an opportunity right now not necessarily a challenge, right? When you look at the demand that’s in front of us, and the amount of plastic film that’s used, right, you know, it’s it’s a large untapped potential for us to get those film back and circularity, which is what our customers are demanding, right. And our both our customers like, larger national retailers, they want their products back in circulation. So this allows them to showcase the world, right? You know, really, these products can be put back into circularity and back into products they use on the shelf. Again, I think that’s really the opportunity we see not necessarily as a challenge, but the opportunity in front of us, for all of us, right, with the investments and the commitments that brands are making. This is a big opportunity for all of us.

Sean McMahon  17:20

Okay, so with that opportunity, how are you measuring success here? Are there any kind of metrics you’ve established?

Ganesh Nagarajan  17:26

We see recycling on film is a long journey, right. And now, it’s our intent to install several of these film recovery units and accept film and as many communities we serve. Right now, WM is investing well over a billion dollars in upgrading and automating our moves. And some of the investments are going to specifically towards accepting film and the installation of new technology for film recovery. Chicago is our flagship recycling center, we are expanding this pilot. And as the success for us is to demonstrate one, there’s a technical feasibility that we are able to separate this and pull out the streams and the recycle bins, and finding viable and sustainable in markets. Right. And I think we can say we are making significant progress. And both those that enter the collaboration is critical. As I mentioned before, we have to have a long term, sustainable value, right. And that’s the engagement. But the value chain is critical. We can do it alone. I think we are making progress today. Agile the ability to add,

Adwoa Coleman  18:32

maybe using a broad brush to define success, as he said, is seeing film recycling happen at curbside at scale. But um, underneath those, I think there are several granular key performance indicators are for us within the project. Starting first of all, with something that you mentioned at the beginning of the of the conversation, Sean, where you depict that, you know, are residents recycling it? Or are they doing it in the right way that we would want? That’s a first metric for us as part of this project in the communities where we we turn on this functionality, and then going all the way down to where can the material actually end up? And how does it function technically, within those different end users? So several milestones in between. But certainly, the broader goal of seeing film recycled curbside at scale is is utopia for us.

Sean McMahon  19:27

Yeah, for sure. I think you mentioned earlier like there’s a lot of minds to be changed, you know, going as you’re saying how, you know, consumers have been trained for years to not throw that that plastic bag in there. But now we got to kind of reverse that. So stepping back and taking a broad look. Obviously companies like WM and Dow have massive sustainability strategies. How does this initiative fit into the overall puzzle for each of your companies?

Adwoa Coleman  19:50

So from Dow standpoint, we set out a goal that we’re calling transform the waste where we pledge that by 2030 we will transform plastic waste and other forms of alternative feedstocks to commercialize 3 million metric tons of circular and renewable solutions annually. In order to be able to feed this circular loop, we need access to material, right? So it’s really the mindset of materials that were previously considered waste becoming resources that become our raw materials of the future. And this project really helps to drive towards that goal, and to provide supply for this loop at scale.

Ganesh Nagarajan  20:31

From a WM perspective, right, you know, we have three pillars or three larger objectives from a sustainability perspective, right. One is, the material is recovered, energy is renewable, and the communities are thriving. Right. So I think the, for the purposes of this conversation, we are focusing on plastics and plastics waste, right. So we believe in all material should be repurposed, right, creating a circular solution. So WMS goal is to recover materials by 60% to about 25 million metric tons from currently we are we’re doing about 15 million metric tons by 2030. We want to be at 25 million tonnes, but the near near term interim goal of about 25% increase by 2025. So plastics are a key component of that material recovery. Right. And unlocking that feedstock in particular firm as we are discussing today goes a long way in supporting that commitment made by brand owners as well as our collaboration with our here in meeting their stated goal, right. So we got to unlock every bit of material that’s out there to meet those demands as an industry as a whole. So we are really focused on supporting as a feedstock supplier supporting those investments suppose supporting that commitments, making sure the feedstock is available, and contributes to our 60% goal for increasing our material recovery by 60%. By 2030.

Sean McMahon  21:59

Obviously, bringing plastics into the loop of circularity is a high priority across society. So I’m glad to hear your two companies are collaborating on this and congratulations on the award.

Ganesh Nagarajan  22:09

Thanks, Sean for the opportunity, glad to share the platform with Adwoa.

Adwoa Coleman  22:14

Thank you very much. Thank you for having us.

Sean McMahon  22:25

Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us. Right now I’m joined by Anson Huang from DuPont, Anson, how you doing today?

Anson Wong  22:33

Great, how about yourself?

Sean McMahon  22:34

Great. I’m excited to talk to you because I understand that DuPont won the Environmental Protection Award from the American Chemistry Council’s Sustainability Leadership Awards Program. Tell me more about the product that won you that award.

Anson Wong  22:46

Sure. So perhaps I’ll start off with a quick intro of all of what we do here. So I’m coming from DuPont performance building solutions, and they are a leading material provider for all six sides of the building envelope, focusing on providing solutions for air sealing and weatherization, thermal protection, disaster resiliency, as well as the total system that leverage the strength of our entire building envelope portfolio. So with that, the part that I want to talk about that won the Sustainability Award is the styrofoam brand extruded polystyrene foam or XPS In short, it is a high performance buildings insulation product, which is used in residential and commercial building to increase building energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. For over a decade. XPS insulation products have relied on hydrofluorocarbons, or HFC in short, as one of the primary Boeing Asian to achieve important form properties such as thermal insulation performance. However, HFCs has a relatively high intrinsic global warming potentials or GWP, which presents the need for a low GOP solution to meet market needs for low embodied carbon products and to drive climate action. DuPont recognized this opportunity and we invented our Styrofoam brand insulation by developing an innovative solution that has achieved a significant reduction in greenhouse gas or GHG emissions across the product lifecycle. In order to accomplish this, we develop and optimize extra for hydrophone, our fan base, low GWP Boeing agent formulation that enable us to achieve a wide range of product properties such as mechanical strength, for more insulation, performance, and moisture and fire resistance, all of which are critical to our customers applications to further reduce the embodied Carbon beyond the innovative bonding agent formulation itself. We have further paired this technology with a state of the art infrared attenuator technology to reduce radiative heat transfer. This technology enables us to reduce the use of Boeing engine while still achieving the desired for more insulation performance, therefore, further reducing the GWP impact of our product. Together, these innovations have led to a substantial 94% reduction in embodied carbon in our latest low GWP style foam insulation products, while maintaining the high performance and reliability that our customers seek. This embodied carbon reduction has been verified through a third party lifecycle assessment and environmental product declaration assessment.

Sean McMahon  25:53

Okay, well, I think everyone who’s listening, this show knows the importance of of installation products like this. So I’m not going to ask you this to describe how these products work. But how does this product contribute to du Pont’s overall sustainability goals? I mean, obviously, you have a lot of offerings. So you know what kind of feedback you’re getting from clients in terms of the popularity of this but also internally, like how big of a piece of businesses is 31?

Anson Wong  26:15

Yeah, so I can speak to that in both in the internally how does it contribute to the company’s overall sustainability goal, and also, what kind of sustainability challenge that this product is addressing as a whole. So speaking internally, first, this innovation has helped enabled Japan to achieve 35% reduction in scope one and two emissions from the 2019 baseline by the end of last year and 2022. This achievement already suppresses DuPont original 2030 sustainability goal of 30% reduction, eight years ahead of target. Because of this, DuPont has further strengthened our overall sustainability commitment to reduce our scope one and two GHG emissions by 50%. By 2030. From the 2019 baseline. This commitment has been validated by sbti, or science based targets to align with the Paris accord to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, Japan has announced our first scope three goal to reduce emissions from purchase goods and surface and end of life treatment of solid products by 25% from 2020 baseline and this innovation will be a significant step towards that goal. This innovation also supports DuPont 2013, delivering solutions for global challenges sustainability goal to align 100% of our innovation portfolio to minimum fully advanced the United Nation sustainability development goals and create value for our customers at the same time. So that that is the how that this project aligned with our corporate sustainability goals. And Dupont. Now what this product or innovation address in terms of the overall sustainability challenge in the world. And now I would like to speak to that. So while XPS provides excellent insulation, insulation properties, mechanical strength, moisture resistance and durability. There has been perhaps a narrative that suggests XPS might not be the most environmentally friendly insulation product due to its relatively high and body carbons. However, with our low GWP style foam invention with 94% reduction in body carbons, we believe that we have totally changed the ballgame. The bill environment is responsible for nearly 40% of the global GHG Emission annually. We do think these emissions food the application of green building standards is key to making an impact on climate action and meeting the Paris Climate Agreement target to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We strongly believe that our innovative low GWP XPS will help our customer make a significant step towards decarbonisation in the building and construction industry. For example, LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability, achievement and leadership. Our low GOP style form has achieved the maximum points possible under the embodied carbon and lifecycle assessment optimization credit within the LEED green building certification scheme. This is the direct result of the significant magnitude of the embody carbon reduction from disinfection. This will help our customer to achieve the embodied Carbon Challenge set forth by the construction industry leading architecture 2030 initiative to reduce embodied carbon by to 65% by 2030.

Sean McMahon  30:17

Okay now, how does DuPont itself measure the success of this product?

Anson Wong  30:21

So we have measured the success of our low GWP XPS insulation from two main perspectives, the quantified reduction in the embodied carbon of the paddock and quantify a reduction in GHG emissions from the styrofoam manufacturing operations in North America. As mentioned based on the certified third party EPD assessments, our new low GWP XPS insulation has achieved significant 94% reduction in embodied carbon relative to the previous Styrofoam formulation. In regards to reducing GHG emissions from the styrofoam manufacturing operations, we have taken a phased approach to convert our plants to enable us to minimize waste to supply and to continue meeting the market need for efficient, doable installation. By the end of 2022, we have already successfully achieved a 41% GHG emission reduction from our XPS manufacturing facility across North America. Well it have to our baseline year of 2019. As we continue our journey to complete our asset conversion to low GWP formulation, we expect continued GHG emission reduction to be realized through the end of 2023.

Sean McMahon  31:48

Well, definitely sounds like you’re making some some impressive progress on that already. So what does the future hold for a product like this any further innovations coming down the pipeline you can share with us? Are we gonna keep that tight?

Anson Wong  32:00

We are definitely looking at different ways to to further improve our sustainability profile performance. So all that I can say today is stay tuned, more to come.

Sean McMahon  32:14

Okay, well, I’ll be keen to hear what else is coming down. So Anson, thank you very much for your time today. And congratulations to you and your team on this award.

Anson Wong  32:21

Thank you so much.

Sean McMahon  32:29

Hello, everyone. And now I’m joined by Wolfgang Goertz, the Vice President at Evonik. Wolfgang, how are you doing today?

Wolfgang Goertz  32:36

I’m doing great. Sean, how about you?

Sean McMahon  32:39

Doing fantastic. I’m excited to talk to you because Evonik won one of the American Chemistry Council Sustainability Leadership Awards. You won for product safety, innovation and transparency. So tell us more about the product that won that award?

Wolfgang Goertz  32:51

Well, the product name is RHEANCE one. And it is actually a biosurfactant that our customers use when they make sustainable personal care products, for example, shampoos, or facial cleansers. So surfactant is something that that typically cleans right, and they use it for cleaning of hair or skin. And it is part of another platform of multifunctional biosurfactants. They’re called glycolipids. And the name tells you that they are made of sugars. But they also have lipophilic part that enables them to clean. The product is 100% Bio Base. And it’s coming from 100% renewable raw materials and we use actually sugar or dextrose as a raw material. We make them by fermentation, which is a biotech process. And the structure is identical to those found in nature and therefore it’s a natural product which is very compatible to the skin and very mild to the skin. So because it’s also 100% biodegradable, it’s a very environmentally friendly product. And we can also trace the raw materials back to the farm.

Sean McMahon  34:10

Okay, well obviously a cosmetic product like this is very relatable everyone out there, you know uses shampoo and things like this. So, what I want to ask you about is what sustainability challenge does this product particularly tackle?

Wolfgang Goertz  34:21

Well, you know, consumers nowadays they are increasingly focused on on concerns or issues about around sustainability like the care for natural and mild ingredients. They’re looking for product safety, they’re looking for and environmental friendliness and and so we designed this product to meet all these these challenges, right. There’s also need for responsible sourcing in the in the cosmetic industry because people want to know where the feedstocks and other raw materials are coming from and how things are processed. And then the larger context, we even need to address climate change and carbon footprint, right. So the reasons one actually addresses all these concerns. As I mentioned, the molecule is something that you also found in nature. And it performs very well, even in low usage concentrations, which is also a good aspect in terms of, of sustainability. We use those sugars as raw materials only. So there is no tropical oil involved or anything else is just sugar. And the micro organism that we use is trained or educated, let’s say, to make this surfactant structure out of it. It has a very low carbon footprint, as you can imagine, we use fermentation. So not a lot of energy, or heat or steam used in the process. And you could say the process is a bit like brewing beer right at the end, we just need to clean the product and make it available in a cosmetic rate. Typically, we use corn as a raw material, and this is coming from local or regional sources. So also avoid you know, long transport for shipping raw materials around the world we can really, really sauce locally.

Sean McMahon  36:17

If the process is similar to brewing beer, I imagine the team there in Germany knows what they’re doing. Have a little bit history with that, right?

Wolfgang Goertz  36:24

Yeah, they actually do that is made in Europe. It’s not made in Germany. It’s made in Slovakia. We are building a plant right there. But it’s, uh, you know, Slovakia also know how they would appear.

Sean McMahon  36:36

Okay, well, how does Evonik you know, gauge the success of this product? I mean, is it non sales or customer feedback or anything like that? What, how are you gauging this?

Wolfgang Goertz  36:45

Yeah, so the product is on the market. And we have very positive customer feedback, we have a lot of applications already we are in, we are talking about the entire personal care range. I mentioned shampoos, I mentioned, facial cleansers. micellar. Water is a very good product for micellar. Water, you can even use it in toothpaste, or mouthwash. It has no bitter taste, like many other surfactants do. So you don’t have to mask with high loads of flavor. That’s an advantage. But Evonik we also look at more aspects of how to measure success, right? I mean, we are happy that the product is in the market, and we have good sales. But we also look at things like lifecycle analysis, right, looking at the entire process, we call it from cradle to grave, what’s happening with your carbon footprint in terms of sourcing, in terms of processing, and even after life, you know, even after application by the consumer, the product goes back to nature, basically, because it’s 100% biodegradable, the carbon in the product goes fully back to nature, where it’s then transformed or metabolized into co2 again, which then can be used, you know, to make those sugars that we take as a raw material. So we really have a closed carbon loop.

Sean McMahon  38:08

Okay, and then also, how does this product contribute to Evonik overall sustainability goals, maybe not just within the cosmetics product line, but everything?

Wolfgang Goertz  38:17

Yeah, Evonik has a couple of sustainability goals, ranging from research and development through the portfolio management, and also into corporate culture. So right now, we are at a status where we generate 43% of our sales with solutions that have a very strong positive sustainability profile. And we aim to increase the proportion of that turnover to more than 70% by 2032. In nutrition care, which is the life science division of Evonik, we are also heavily investing into what we call next generation solutions, which are at a very high level of sustainability. And Evonik will invest more than 3 billion Euros by 2030. And the returns one and the biosurfactants platform is is a huge part of that investment. Also, beyond the product, we’re gonna invest additional 700 million of euros in next generation technologies where we want to improve and optimize our production processes and our infrastructure to reduce and avoid co2 emissions.

Sean McMahon  39:29

Okay, well, Wolfgang, I gotta say, I really appreciate hearing about how Evonik is weaving sustainability into its everyday products like your cosmetic line. So thank you for taking the time to share the details.

Wolfgang Goertz  39:39

Yeah, I’m happy to share them and we are proud that the American Chemistry Council recognized Evonik with this with this award, because sustainability is at the heart of what we do. And it’s great to see that that this is recognized. Thanks very much. Thank you for your time.

Sean McMahon  40:05

Hello everyone and welcome back. I’m joined now by Matthew Marks the leader of the Circular Economy for the Americas at SABIC. Matthew, how you doing today?

Matthew Marks  40:14

I’m doing very well. Thank you for the opportunity to present.

Sean McMahon  40:19

Yeah, absolutely. SABIC won the circularity award. So can you please provide us a little brief description or an overview of the initiative that garden that attention?

Matthew Marks  40:25

Absolutely. And again, thank you for the opportunity. SABIC as a global leader in the chemical industry was awarded a 2023 sustainability Leadership Award for Exemplary achievements and circularity by the American Chemistry Council. And we recognize what that means it’s important that we collaborate together to bring ocean bound plastic back into a circular material. So we’re proud to receive this prestigious award and it acknowledges the importance of collaboration and the efforts to recover and reuse this ocean bound plastic as feedstock in production in new polymer materials. So SABIC received this 2023 circularity word for his leadership and implementing these solutions for recovered and recycled ocean bound plastic and it’s really the collaboration with value chain that allowed us to be recognized so we work with companies ahi, a Malaysian based plastics recycling company, poly voga, European manufacturer of flexible packaging film products, we have a pesca Nova group, a leading Spanish food brand, and he helped to introduce the world’s first frozen food packaging using certified circular polyethylene resin from cervix through circle program with ocean bound plastic bead stuff. And then lastly, scientex major Asian manufacturer of flexible packaging they introduced the world’s first flexible premium brand noodle packs made from statics certified polypropylene using ocean bound plastic.

Sean McMahon  41:55

So obviously, this sustainability challenge that this tackled was clear, you know, ocean bound plastic. So how does your company measure the success of this initiative?

Matthew Marks  42:03

Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, Satish leadership and implementing and these effective solutions. Using recovered and recycled ocean Don plastics specifically contributes to the United States un sustainability development goals number 14, which is Life below Water, you know, by deriving these successful collaboration and these collaborative projects. With industry players, as I mentioned, we can demonstrate that advanced recycling can be effective in converting ocean down plastic that could potentially enter the waterways and oceans and into and convert that into valuable feedstocks to produce high quality food contact packaging. And so what

Sean McMahon  42:41

was the interaction like with some of those companies that you partner with for this technology? Obviously, this is a hot topic around the world. So you know, where they came to partner with SABIC.

Matthew Marks  42:50

That’s right, it’s really collaborating with the entire value chain up and down not only from the providers of materials, the collectors from the ocean down materials, but the brand owners and converters themselves. You know, ocean bound plastic, is abandoned materials have ended plastics found within 50 kilometers of inland waterways, and it’s at risk of being washed into the ocean by rainfall, rivers and tides. The ocean bound plastic used in these collaborations was recovered and then converted into pyrolysis oil, and using advanced recycling processes. Saavik has its own oil as an alternative feedstock to produce certified circular polymers for new high quality applications. The ocean down plastic feedstock in itself is certified by zero plastics ocean and Sadek certified polyolefins are certified under the International sustainability and carbon certification ISCC plus chain of custody that uses transparent mass balance accounting of the recycled content for polymer production into the final applications.

Sean McMahon  43:55

Now obviously SABIC is a large global company. So how does this ocean bound plastics initiative fit with statics overall global sustainability goals.

Matthew Marks  44:06

Seven associate on plastics solutions form part of our true circle portfolio and services which also are comprised of designed for recyclability, mechanically recycled products certified renewable polymers from bio based feedstocks, as well as closed loop initiatives. Sadek has made a commitment to process 1 million metric tons of true circle solutions by 2030. And this ocean bound plastics program is an important contribution to help us achieve these goals.

Sean McMahon  44:36

Again, I mentioned this was collected within 50 kilometers of river miles and other and other waterways. So what’s that process? Like? I’m just curious, the collection process seems like it’s not an easy task.

Matthew Marks  44:46

It’s definitely not an easy task, which is why we value and leverage those that have the experience I mentioned HHI a very valuable and important to collaborative partner in Malaysia that does that the very He’s organizing groups and activities that they do in order to be able to collect that waste, process that into the advanced recycled materials and pyrolysis oils. And then we’re able to convert that into, again, final products, but very labor labor intensive activity, but it’s really the collaborations that make it successful.

Sean McMahon  45:20

And what’s your hope for the overall growth of programs like the social bound plastics solution that SABIC has?

Matthew Marks  45:26

It’s one of many initiatives within our portfolio, true circle solutions. Ocean down plastic is obviously we want to prevent the leakage of materials into the environment, we want to develop the infrastructure to be able to take back and collect use plastics, because they do have value. That value can be converted into different types of streams, whether it’s mechanical recycling, or whether it’s advanced recycling solutions. And in the case of Saavik, you know, our portfolio is what our customers are looking for, and helping to, to execute and commercialize. So the commitments that we made as a corporation allows us as an overall organization to contribute to what our customers needs are. And it’s important that we execute to successfully as we move into the future.

Sean McMahon  46:13

All right, well, Matthew, hey, solutions for this kind of problem with the oceans and plastic in the oceans is obviously front of mind for everyone. So I appreciate your work and the team and SABIC and congratulations on the award.

Matthew Marks  46:23

Thank you very much. Have a great day. Thank you.

Sean McMahon  46:29

Alrighty, well, that’s our show for today. I know that was a lot of information coming at you from a bunch of industry leaders, but I hope you’re able to take some notes. I want to thank the American Chemistry Council for their help in producing this episode. And again, to learn more about the ACC’s sustainability efforts, check out the links in today’s show notes. Thank you all for listening. And if you haven’t already, please subscribe or follow this show on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts. And as always, please be sure to share it with your friends and colleagues. Have a great day.