For BASF, circular economy is much more than waste management. The aim is to close cycles and use products and resources in the best way possible across the entire value chain. The chemical industry and its innovations can lead the way in this change. BASF is already applying circular economy in several ways and approaches.
Mass balance approach
The chemical industry uses a small number of raw materials to create tens of thousands of different products. The lion’s share of chemical production starts in the steam cracker, where steam is used to split or “crack” naphtha, a long-chain hydrocarbon, into smaller molecules. These molecules then serve as the building blocks for downstream production. They include, for example, hydrogen, methane, ethylene and propylene, which are mainly processed into plastics, coatings, solvents and crop protection products.
In the chemical industry, renewable or recycled feedstock is added at the beginning of the production process and allocated to the end product. This calculation-based principle offers multiple advantages: It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil feedstock inputs, while the quality and properties of a product remain the same. As a result, the products can be processed exactly like conventionally produced materials. There is therefore no need to adapt formulations, plants or processes.
Biomass balance approach
BASF has broken new ground with the development of the biomass balance process for the use of renewable raw materials in the chemical industry. This approach allows fossil fuels to be replaced by renewable raw materials in BASF's Production Verbund. By providing biomass-balanced products, BASF contributes to environmental and climate protection while maintaining high quality.
Benefits of the biomass balance approach are various: saving fossil resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, driving the use of renewable resources, ensuring identical product quality and properties, and more. The approach is applied for many BASF products, such as superabsorbents, dispersions, plastics and intermediates. The resulting biomass balanced products offer BASF customers a differentiation opportunity such as a quantifiably improved CO2 footprint and savings of fossil resources.