14 September 2023

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Beckers joins Renewable Carbon Initiative to boost sustainable raw material base

Initiated by the nova-Institute in Cologne (Germany) the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) is a novel approach to breaking the dependence on fossil fuels. It responds to the challenges that the chemical and materials industries face to achieve EU climate goals and reacts to wider global climate emergency challenges.  

Beckers has already carried out a project with the nova-Institute to identify renewable carbon routes to several of its key raw materials and has now joined the RCI as a member.

Decarbonization, where carbon is entirely removed from processes, is not an option for Beckers: organic chemistry requires carbon. But there is already a strong scientific case for developing alternative ways to derive that carbon from renewable, non-fossil sources. Hence, nova-Institute developed the renewable carbon strategy with the goal of turning an exciting theory into viable commercial reality. The vision here is for fossil carbon to be completely substituted by renewable carbon. This is carbon derived from alternative sources including biomass, CO2 and recycling. Such a transition would enable chemicals and plastics to become sustainable, climate-friendly and part of the circular economy.

beckers renewable carbon initiative

The importance of renewable carbon for Beckers 

As a coatings manufacturer, Beckers formulates with a very complex raw material mix manufactured by a wide direct supplier landscape. 70 per cent of the raw materials that are used are specialty organic chemicals. These go into many competing applications in other industries. Carbon, the major raw material in these organic chemicals, is right now almost exclusively derived from fossil sources. Thus, around 90 per cent of Beckers current product carbon footprint (from cradle to gate) is embedded in the raw materials. 

“Looking ahead for the next 10 years and beyond, we see sustainability as the most important innovator in our industry. Sustainability leadership is the primary driver at Beckers today. Our ambition is to lead the transformation of our industry, which will generate significant business opportunities. Successfully shifting from fossil to renewable sources is the game changer,” says Thomas Lüder, Global Director Sustainability Partnerships at Beckers.  

How can Beckers create the most positive impact – RCI helps tackle the challenge 

“As a medium-sized player operating in a variety of upstream markets, with limited buying power, our most viable strategic path is through establishing external partnerships. Wherever possible we employ industry-wide standards and third-party validation. This is in line with the approach outlined by the Renewable Carbon Initiative,” adds Lüder. 

In 2022, Beckers started a major supplier integration project (“Towards Renewable Carbon”) with key global suppliers. And in 2023, the company began to build own capabilities for carrying out Life Cycle Assessments. One of the benefits of being part of the Renewable Carbon Initiative is the opportunity to exchange with members on topics arising from this work.