Raw materials

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. 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 effects of ecosystem services on the preservation of air, water and soil quality.

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

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 2014, 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

  • “Mass balance” method established
  • Facility begins operations for commercial production of bio-based succinic acid

In 2014, around 4.5% of the raw materials we purchased worldwide were from renewable resources. We are advancing our research and development activities for products and production processes based on renewable raw materials. We also further established our “mass balance” method on the market in 2014. This method uses renewable raw materials from certified sustainable production in place of fossil resources from the very beginning of the value chain in the existing Production Verbund. Savings of fossil resources are calculated for each product. The formulation and quality of the end products remain unchanged. The method is currently applied for BASF products, such as superabsorbents, engineering plastics and dispersions, that are accordingly independently certified. We have been selling mass-balanced BASF polyamide since 2014.

Succinity GmbH, our joint venture with Corbion Purac, started up a facility for the commercial production of bio-based succinic acid in 2014. The plant, located in Montmeló, Spain, has an annual capacity of 10,000 metric tons. This process employs a bacterium that creates succinic acid naturally from various renewable raw materials. The succinic acid generated through these means has a better carbon footprint than that produced from fossil resources, which allows us to provide our customers with an economically and environmentally viable alternative to petrochemical raw materials. Succinic acid is a versatile chemical intermediate, used for example in the production of bioplastics, solvents, polyurethanes and plasticizers.

Since 2013, we have also provided our customers with 1,4-butanediol on a commercial scale using sugars as a renewable feedstock based on a licensing agreement with the company Genomatica Inc. Butanediol and its derivatives are used, for example, to manufacture plastics for the automotive and textile industries. In 2014, the polymer and fiber manufacturer INVISTA announced the commercial availability of bio-based LYCRA® brand spandex fibers; based on BASF’s butanediol, these are made from renewable raw materials.

BASF is 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 future processes. The partners announced a collaboration for the further development of the method at the end of 2013.

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 sustainability criteria.

Mineral raw materials

We investigate the origins of the minerals we use to see if they come from conflict mines, and reserve the right to conduct an external audit; we also reserve the right to, 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. Our suppliers have confirmed to us that they do not source their minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or its neighboring countries.

Preserving ecosystems

  • Our production sites reviewed for proximity to internationally protected areas
  • MAQS® Beehive Strip launched in key European markets

Biodiversity forms the foundation of ecosystem services. Internationally protected areas play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity around the world. This is why, in 2014, we once again investigated our production sites to discover which are located near internationally protected areas: 2% of our production sites (excluding Oil & Gas) are adjacent to a Ramsar Site and 1% to a Category I, II or III protected area of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). None of our production sites are adjacent to a UNESCO protected area. We did not discover any impact of our activities on biodiversity in these areas in 2014.

Moreover, we develop products that contribute to the preservation of biodiversity. For example, together with our Canadian partner NOD Apiary Products, we launched the MAQS® Beehive Strip in numerous key markets in Europe in 2014. These strips offer honeybees protection from the varroa mite, which is considered the greatest threat to bee health.