Air, Waste and Soil

We want to minimize the impact of our activities on people and the environment by further reducing emissions to air, preventing waste and protecting the soil. Our plants are operated responsibly and we use natural resources with respect. We have set ourselves standards in global requirements and are continually improving the resource efficiency of our processes with our Operational Excellence program.

The graphic depicts the different stations along the value chain. The topics in each chapter address the station shown in light blue. (here: BASF, Customers) (graphic)


  • Minimizing environmental impacts
  • Maximizing recovery options

Regular monitoring of our emissions to air is a part of our environmental management. In addition to greenhouse gases, we also measure and analyze emissions of air pollutants to avoid potentially harmful substances as best possible.

Our waste management is based on the systematic tracking of material flows and follows a clear hierarchy. We aim to avoid waste as far as possible. If this is not possible, we review the options for recycling or energy recovery in terms of a circular economy. Non-recyclable waste is disposed of properly and in an environmentally responsible manner. BASF’s Verbund structure helps us to avoid or reduce waste. We regularly audit external waste disposal companies to ensure that waste is disposed of properly. In this way, we also contribute to preventive soil protection and keep today’s waste from becoming tomorrow’s contamination. If soil and groundwater contamination occurs at active or former sites, appropriate remediation measures are reviewed and implemented.

Emissions to air

  • Emissions to air slightly lower

Total emissions of air pollutants from our production plants amounted to 23,791 metric tons in 2020 (2019: 25,040 metric tons1). Emissions of ozone-depleting substances as defined by the Montreal Protocol totaled 14 metric tons in 2020 (2019: 26 metric tons1). The successive changeover to alternative coolants has significantly reduced these emissions, down from 229 metric tons in 2002. Emissions of heavy metals2 in 2020 amounted to 4 metric tons (2019: 5 metric tons1).

1 The comparative figure for 2019 has been adjusted to reflect updated data.

2 Heavy metals are included in the figure for dust (see the table “Emissions to air”).

Emissions to air (Metric tons)

Air pollutants from BASF operations



CO (carbon monoxide)



NOX (total nitrogen oxides)



NMVOC (nonmethane volatile organic compounds)



SOX (total sulfur oxides)






NH3 (ammonia) and other inorganic substances







The comparative figure for 2019 has been adjusted to reflect updated data.

We want to further reduce our emissions with various measures. For instance, we use catalysts to reduce nitrogen oxides or feed waste gases back into the production process. One example of this is the production of adipic acid at the Ludwigshafen site in Germany. The nitrous oxide generated in the process is not broken down, but isolated and used in the BASF Verbund as a feedstock for intermediates. This reduces our emissions and simultaneously increases process and resource efficiency.

In addition, our portfolio contains a variety of products to help reduce the emission of air pollutants – from process catalysts for industry applications and plastics additives to catalysts for the automotive industry.

Management of waste and contaminated sites

  • Total waste volume slightly lower
  • Systematic management of contaminated sites

We use the BASF Verbund to efficiently manage our material flows. The by-products of one plant often serve as feedstocks for another plant, avoiding waste. At the Antwerp site in Belgium, for example, we re-use a carboxylate solution from the cyclohexanone plant in the production of soda ash. Other material flows can be used to generate steam, which saves fossil fuels.

We are working intensively on solutions for a circular economy. We want to further reduce our demand for primary resources and at the same time, help to reduce waste generation through better recycling, for example, of platinum group metals, or the use of recycled feedstocks such as pyrolysis oil from mixed plastic waste or used tires. We are also involved in various initiatives to avoid waste and strengthen the circular economy. For example, as a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), we cooperate with around 50 other companies along the value chain to put plastic waste to good use and reduce the amount that enters the environment. The AEPW intends to invest up to $1.5 billion in various projects and cooperative ventures to this end, mainly in Asia and Africa.

Waste generation in the BASF Group (Million metric tons)




Total waste generation



Waste recovered






Thermally recovered



Waste disposed of



Through incineration



In surface landfills






Classification of waste for disposalb



Nonhazardous waste



Hazardous waste



of which transported hazardous waste




Physical/chemical and biological treatment, underground disposal


Waste is classified as hazardous or nonhazardous waste according to local regulations.

We have global standards for managing contaminated sites. A worldwide network of experts ensures these are implemented. We develop remediation solutions that balance nature conservation, climate protection concerns, costs and social responsibility. This means making customized decisions on a case-by-case basis, founded on the legal framework and current technological standards. Contaminated sites are documented in a database. Ongoing remediation work around the world continued on schedule in 2020 and planning was concluded on future remediation projects.

For more information on provisions for environmental protection, see the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements:
Note 9
Note 23

More information on the Alliance to End Plastic Waste:

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

In 2019, we co-founded the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) with other companies from along the value chain – from plastics producers and consumer goods manufacturers to waste disposal companies. The AEPW has around 50 members, who together aim to develop solutions that stop plastic waste from entering the environment, especially the ocean. There are four main focus areas: developing infrastructure for waste collection, promoting innovative recycling methods, education and engagement of various stakeholders, and cleanup of areas heavily impacted by plastic waste. BASF supports the AEPW’s goal of establishing a circular economy for plastics with its ChemCycling™ project. BASF is also involved in Alliance initiatives such as cleanup efforts. For instance, almost 300 BASF employees participated in the AEPW’s All Together Global Cleanup campaign in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Shanghai, China, in September 2020.

Alliance to End Plastic Waste (Photo)