26. Nov 2019

Non-fossil resources to the rescue

Non-fossil resources to the rescue

At the recent Raw Materials Summit 2019 in Berlin, the discussion centred on how waste, plants, CO2 - the resources of the future – can propel the transition away from a throwaway society. ‘Products must be recycled in an ecologically efficient manner’.

With sustainable raw materials from waste, plants and CO2, the chemical industry can support the transition to a circular economy. At the Raw Materials Summit 2019, which took place on Monday at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany representatives from business, politics and science called for the increased use of such sources instead of crude oil. Accordingly, non-fossil resources help to close the carbon loop and can contribute to climate protection. At the summit the “Resource Innovator” start-up prize was awarded to the young company Ineratec from Southern Germany.

“The chemical industry is actively pushing ahead with the transformation to a circular economy,” said Dr. Klaus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management for Production and Technology at Covestro. The materials manufacturer organized the summit again jointly with the Technical University of Berlin and the Dechema Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

Waste as a valuable resource

According to Schäfer, it is particularly important to see plastic waste as a resource: “After their use, products must no longer end up uncontrolled in the environment, but must be recycled in an ecologically efficient manner, for example through chemical recycling”, stated Schäfer with a view to politics.

The German government was represented by Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), who delivered the opening speach. The BMU as well as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research acted as patrons of the event.

Professor Christian Thomsen, President of the Technical University of Berlin, stressed that the academic sector could provide important impetus for research and development into new recycling processes and alternative raw materials. Thomsen: “The interaction of application-oriented basic research and science-based industry is the key to success”.

Promoting a start-up culture

Professor Kurt Wagemann, Managing Director of Dechema, emphasized the importance of a vibrant start-up scene for the realization of new ideas for sustainable production processes and products: “The start-up culture in Germany needs to be more pronounced so that Germany can keep up with international competition”.

Wagemann also selected the “Resource Innovator 2919”. This year's prize at the Raw Materials Summit went to Karlsruhe-based Ineratec GmbH, which was founded in 2016. The company has succeeded in downsizing large chemical plants to miniature size. With these decentralized reactors, high-quality raw materials for the chemical industry can be produced from exhaust gases such as CO2.


Image: How to get to a Circular Economy was the subject at Raw Materials Summit 2019 in Berlin with representatives from business, politics, media and science. (Credit: Covestro)

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