Raw materials

Renewable resources

  • Around 3.5% of raw materials purchased worldwide from renewable resources in 2013
  • Development of “mass balance method,” which utilizes renewable raw materials in Verbund
  • First commercial-scale production of 1,4-butanediol from sugar

Responsible resource management is an integral part of our strategy. It is applied within the company through our Verbund concept, our innovative products and the use of renewable raw materials. In the search for alternative raw materials, we employ solutions that contribute to sustainability.

Stations along the value chain

The diagram depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in each chapter address the station shown in dark green. (Here: Suppliers)

Strategy

The Verbund system is an important component of our resource efficiency strategy: The by-products of one plant often serve as feedstock elsewhere, thus helping us to use raw materials more efficiently. In 2013, BASF purchased a total of around 30,000 different raw materials from more than 6,000 suppliers. Some of our most important raw materials are naphtha, natural gas, methanol, ammonia and benzene. We examine the use of renewable resources in our Verbund system and are involved in the responsible cultivation and utilization of renewables in numerous projects along the value chain.

Renewable resources

In 2013, around 3.5% of the raw materials we purchased worldwide were from renewable resources. We intensified our research and development activities for products and production processes based on renewable raw materials in 2013. For example, we developed the innovative “mass balance method” together with TÜV SÜD, in which fossil resources in the current Production Verbund are replaced by renewable resources with sustainability certification. The formulation and quality of the corresponding end products remain unchanged. In this process, renewable raw materials are used as feedstock at the very beginning of production in the Verbund, and allocated to the respective sales products using the new certification methods. The certified products thus contribute to sustainable development by saving fossil resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are supplying the first of these products – dispersions for construction adhesives – to a major manufacturer in adhesives whose products include flooring adhesives for the construction industry.

Together with our partner, Purac Biochem B.V., we established Succinity GmbH for the production of bio-based succinic acid. The bacterium used in this process can create succinic acid naturally from various renewable raw materials. This makes bio-based succinic acid an economically and ecologically viable alternative to petrochemical raw materials. Succinic acid is used in a number of applications, such as in the production of bioplastics, chemical intermediates, solvents, polyurethanes and plasticizers.

Furthermore, we produced the first amounts of 1,4-butanediol on a commercial scale using sugars as a renewable feedstock in 2013, based on a licensing agreement with the company Genomatica Inc. Butanediol and its derivatives are also used for producing plastics and solvents as well as electronic chemicals and elastic fibers.

Together with Cargill Inc. and Novozymes A/S, we are developing technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. As part of this cooperation, trial amounts of 3-hydroxypropionic acid have been produced from renewable raw materials since 2013. This is a potential precursor for bio-based acrylic acid. One of the main applications for bio-based acrylic acid is in the production of superabsorbents for the hygiene industry.

Since 2012, BASF has invested in the technology company Renmatix Inc., which owns a method for obtaining industrial sugar from biomass. This technology can expand the base of renewable resources for BASF’s future processes.

Together with Cargill and the German governmental agency for international cooperation, we also continued our project for the economical, environmentally friendly and socially responsible production of coconut oil in the Philippines. Our goal is to develop and implement sustainability standards for the certification and production of this oil. As a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, BASF is involved in projects which include the conservation of biodiversity in the cultivation of palm oil. By 2015, we aim to use palm and palm kernel oil only from agriculture certified according to sustaina-bility criteria.

Mineral raw materials

  • We investigate the origins of the minerals we use and reserve the right to conduct external audits

In 2013, we once again performed an analysis to find out if we obtain raw materials from “conflict mines.” To our current knowledge, this is not the case. Our suppliers have confirmed to us that they do not source their minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or its neighboring countries. We investigate the origins of the minerals we use and reserve the right to conduct an external audit and, if necessary, terminate our business relationship with that supplier. Through a standardized questionnaire, new suppliers must disclose to us in advance if their products contain conflict minerals.

Preserving ecosystems

  • Worldwide investigation shows no impact on biodiversity of our production sites adjacent to Ramsar Sites or IUCN Category I, II or III protected areas
  • European network of eleven farms established for preservation of biodiversity

We as a company are dependent on ecosystem services and also have an impact on them. Examples include the availability of clean water and renewable resources, or even the regulating effects of ecosystem services on the preservation of air, water and soil quality. Biodiversity forms the foundation of ecosystem services. In 2013, we investigated our production sites around the world to discover which are located near internationally protected areas: 2% of our production sites (excluding Oil & Gas) are adjacent to a Ramsar Site, 1% to a Category I, II or III protected area of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and none of our production sites is adjacent to a UNESCO protected area. We did not discover any impact of our activities on biodiversity in these areas in 2013.

In order to help preserve biodiversity and natural resources using modern agriculture, BASF established a European network with eleven “biodiversity farms.” Within this network, we are developing biodiversity promotion measures together with one of the largest farms in Germany as well as with experts from science and nature conservation organizations. The farm network aims to grow into a global network by 2020.

Information relevant to the principles of the Global Compact