Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing and polymer materials specialist Covestro are among eleven companies to launch a new initiative aimed at speeding up the transition from fossil carbon to renewable carbon for all organic chemicals and materials.
The Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI), launched this month under the leadership of Germany’s Nova-Institute, strives to herald the end of the fossil age for all organic chemicals and materials by 2050. Within the RCI, Lenzing will focus on further greening up the textile and non-woven businesses.
Other founding members include Beiersdorf (Germany), Cosun Beet Company (The Netherlands), Henkel (Germany), LanzaTech (US), NESTE (Finland), SHV Energy (The Netherlands), Stahl (The Netherlands), Unilever (UK) and UPM (Finland).
The RCI addresses the core problem of climate change, which is extracting and using additional fossil carbon from the ground. The vision is stated clearly: By 2050, fossil carbon shall be completely substituted by renewable carbon, which is carbon from alternative sources: biomass, direct CO2 utilisation and recycling.
The founders are convinced this is the only way for chemicals, plastics and other organic materials to become sustainable, climate-friendly and part of the circular economy.
“We at Lenzing believe that we need to create strategic partnerships to implement systemic change,” says Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer of the Lenzing Group. “Therefore, we support the Renewable Carbon Initiative. First of all, because it is the right thing to do and, second, it is also fully aligned with our corporate strategy. Therefore, we are part of the RCI from the beginning and its commitment to start acting now.”
Michael Carus, CEO of Nova-Institute and head of the RCI, adds: “This is about a fundamental change in the chemical industry. Just as the energy industry is being converted to renewable energies, so renewable carbon will become the new foundation of the future chemical and material industry. The initiative starts today and will be visibly present from now on. We want to accelerate the change.”
The main avenues on which the initiative wants to deliver change are threefold. One, the initiative strives to create cross-industry platforms that will demonstrate feasibility of renewable carbon in tangible activities. Two, one main target will be to advocate for legislation, taxation and regulation changes to give renewable carbon a level commercial playing field to play on. Finally, the third avenue will be to create a wider pull for sustainable options by raising awareness and understanding of renewable carbon level amongst the business community and the wider public.
The RCI, which has the personal support of more than 100 industry experts, hopes to gain many additional members and supporters in the upcoming months to keep the momentum of the initiative.