Viewing waste as raw material in the circular economy
The moral imperative for moving to renewable solutions is encapsulated in the circular economy concept, which is changing attitudes and thinking on sustainability. It is a holistic rather than a piecemeal approach to achieving a more sustainable world and society.
The Circular Economy - the moral viewpoint
This concept goes beyond cradle-to-grave since at its core is zero waste. It by definition designs out waste, therefore, the starting point for the circular economy is to choose materials that can be recycled, reused or returned to the bio-sphere without harm.
Renewable materials from responsible sourcing are central to this low carbon economy concept, and one that all of us - governments, businesses and society must buy into.
With the end consumers voicing growing concern in these matters it is essential that we listen, especially since the chemical industry has a big environmental impact. We are approaching the tipping point where renewables are moving from “nice to have” to “must have”. Many actors in the industry agree that moving from mineral oil to renewable material is the next logical transition for the coating industry. More importantly, the time has come when it now makes sense for business to switch – morally and commercially.
Moving towards a zero-waste position will take time, but we are committed to eliminating or reducing waste from our production processes. We firmly believe that waste is a failure of imagination, we need to start viewing waste as simply a product that has not found its market yet.
Headed in the right direction
We have already made progress in the direction of zero-waste in sourcing raw materials, repurposing waste liquid and providing cities in Sweden with district heating that utilizes waste heat generated from our production plants. During 2017 at our Penta plant in Toledo, Ohio we invested in a system to purify and reutilize the waste liquid from the production as a raw material. Instead of being sent for treatment, the waste stream has been reborn as a new product and due to this we are dramatically decreasing the volume of chemicals sent from this plant for disposal.
Shifting to renewables
Another excellent example of how we are reusing waste is in our Pro-Environment portfolio where we are using biogas derived from manure as a raw material. You can watch our movie to learn more about how it works.