Consumers are increasingly interested in products based on renewable raw materials that they perceive as healthier, more natural and having a positive environmental impact. Many brand owners and retailers are therefore seeking to position themselves accordingly by defining strategies and goals for using renewable raw materials. In Europe, for instance, the use of renewable resources is also being driven by the European Commission’s measures to cut CO2 emissions and to support the bioeconomy; similar programs exist in other regions.
BASF uses renewable raw materials for two reasons: On the one hand, we want to respond to the market pull resulting from consumer and retailer demand. On the other hand, renewable feedstocks make it possible to develop products with new functionalities and molecules that would otherwise not be accessible or less well accessible via fossil-based routes.
BASF has products related to renewable raw materials at all stages of the value chain: We manufacture products derived from renewable feedstocks. Additionally, we offer fossil-based products that are used to grow and process crops and that act as enablers for the use of renewable raw materials, e.g., resin binders for natural fibers. BASF has also developed an independently certified biomass balance approach that allows a proportion of fossil feedstock to be replaced by renewable feedstock in BASF’s Verbund and for it to be allocated to selected products.
In addition, BASF is using its extensive chemical process and synthesis know-how to make the use of renewable raw materials more competitive. BASF experts are working on process innovations in the areas of reaction technology (e.g., fermentation) and work-up.
Currently, renewable raw materials account on average for around 5% of our global raw material purchasing volume, although the figure is significantly higher in specific businesses. As with other feedstocks, our use of renewable raw materials depends on factors such as availability, cost- competitiveness, customer needs and environmental and social issues. Fossil feedstocks will continue to be BASF’s dominant raw material for the foreseeable future.
Renewable raw materials can contribute to sustainable development by reducing CO2 emissions and replacing fossil raw materials, but they are not per se sustainable. Issues such as competition with food, land use and biodiversity play an important part in the debate about renewable raw materials. Therefore, BASF is a member of initiatives, which verify and certify the sustainability of the renewable raw materials it buys and uses. We are also placing a strong focus on developing technologies for renewable feedstock derived from non-food resources.