logo

Bayer touts sustainability goals

By: Frank Esposito

October 15, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — Even as it celebrates its 150th anniversary, Bayer AG is looking to the future.

The firm's Bayer MaterialScience unit — a global leader in engineering plastics — unveiled new sustainability targets for 2020 at K 2013 in Düsseldorf.

"Sustainability has grown to such a level that it equates to better life," BMS executive Richard Northcote said at an Oct. 15 press event at the show. Northcote serves as the unit's head of communications, public affairs and sustainability.

The new targets include reducing the impact of BMS' manufacturing operations. These steps include reducing specific carbon- dioxide emissions by 40 percent vs. 2005 levels and increasing energy efficiency by 30 percent, also vs. 2005. Leverkusen, Germany-based BMS also wants to continuously drive its safety culture to zero accidents.

Other 2020 sustainability goals for BMS (Hall 6/A75-1, A75-3) include driving initiatives that identify cost-effective, renewable and bio-based raw materials. The unit also wants to ensure that transportation of finished products made from its materials is as environmentally friendly and safe as possible.

BMS new business head Manfred Rink added at the event that all of Bayer's sustainability actions must adhere to its principles of people, planet and profit — "the three Ps" — which are designed to allow BMS to do business more sustainably and contribute to "a better life."

The BMS motto at K 2013 is Sharing Dreams, Sharing Value — Be Part of It. The firm's three key themes of Safe, Free and Happy also are embedded in its K show stand.

Bayer was founded in 1863 as a dyestuffs factory in Wuppertal. Fifteen decades later, BMS materials were used on Solar Impulse, a solar-powered aircraft that earlier this year completed a flight across the U.S. without using a single drop of fuel. BMS is a partner on the Solar Impulse project. Its rigid polyurethane foam was used to insulate the cabin against both heat and cold.

Also at K 2013, BMS will extend applications of its materials in the HAL exoskeleton made by Japanese technology firm Cyberdyne. The exoskeleton is being used to help old and infirm people to move without the help of others. It's also being used to protect workers involved in the cleanup of Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor.

Another K 2013 focus for BMS is Cello 2.0, a musical instrument made from the firm's aliphatic polyurethane. BMS officials said that PU components used in the cello prototype are lighter than other materials and can incorporate a number of design features. The ergonomic shape of the instrument was developed with Teams Design Co.

The cello design begins with the neck and fingerboard, which are typical of electric cellos. The belly, which is made of cast PU resin, is then built around it. All the technical components required for sound and visualization are integrated into the neck and fingerboard.

In another move related to sustainability, BMS officials earlier this year disclosed plans to build a commercial-sale plant making polyurethane and related products from carbon dioxide in Germany by 2015. The plant would have annual capacity of between 10 million and 20 million pounds and would prove world-scale economics for the process, officials said.

BMS posted sales of almost $15 billion in 2012. The firm is a major producer of PU, polycarbonate and other specialty plastics. It employs 14,500 and operates 30 production sites worldwide.

In the first half of 2013, BMS posted sales of 5.65 billion euros (US$7.35 billion), down almost 2 percent vs. the year-ago period. The unit's pretax profit fell 19 percent to 516 million euros (US$671 million) in the same comparison.

Within BMS, first-half sales of polyurethane grew almost 3 percent to 3.02 billion euros (US$3.93 billion), while sales of polycarbonate in that six-month period dipped 7 percent to 1.33 billion euros (US$1.73 billion).

BMS accounted for more than 27 percent of Bayer AG's first-half sales in 2013. That placed the business second among Bayer's three operating units, trailing only health care.