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Cognis adopts principles of green chemistry to hit environmental goals

By Leah Armstrong , 10-Jun-2009
Last updated on 10-Jun-2009 at 12:20 GMT

Speciality chemicals supplier, Cognis, has adopted a new set of guidelines to combine the internationally recognized 24 principles of green chemistry and green engineering.

The company has said that it aims to “reduce its environmental footprint and put in place a clear framework for the development of high-performance, natural source products aimed at the growth markets of wellness and sustainability”.

The adoption of these guidelines was announced at a sustainability symposium hosted by Cognis at its head office in Monheim, Germany, on 3rd June. The founder of the ‘24 principles’, Paul Anastas, led a discussion on the future of ‘green’ chemical solutions.

The 24 principles

In 1998 Paul Anastas, Director of Yale Centre for green chemistry and green engineering, published 12 principles of green chemistry. These principles aimed to avoid contamination and waste, make maximum use of renewable materials to ensure that all products are biodegradable and to use the energy needed for reactions as efficiently as possible.

In 2003, another 12 principles were added, this time for green engineering, which aim to develop industrial processes that fulfill the tenets of sustainability.

Sustainability as a business model

Cognis, which produces naturally sourced raw materials for food, nutrition and health care markets as well as cosmetics, has implemented these principles as part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability.

CEO Antonio Trius said: “The 24 principles help us to strike the right balance between environmental goals, economical viability and product performance and convenience. Cognis is one of the first companies to put a set of objective ‘green’ criteria at the heart of its decision making and operational processes”.

With the new adoption of the 24 principles, the company now hopes to further increase its existing 50% use of renewable raw materials, make better use of residues, further optimize catalysts and make additional cuts in its emissions.

Cognis’ production of Euperlan wax dispersion for hair and body cleansing products is an example of how it has implemented these principles in its work. “This was a new addition to an already comprehensive product line, which consists of our sugar surfactant APG made of vegetable oils and starch. And because it is cold-processable, our customers save energy and time- fully in line with the 24 principles”, said Richard Ringer, Vice President of Cognis Care Chemicals and chairman of Cognis’ Sustainability Council.

Anastas praised Cognis’ adoption of the 24 principles at the symposium in Germany. “Green chemistry and green engineering is not some kind of noble wish. It is not only about being nice to the birds and the trees, but about designing chemicals to be environmentally benign and commercially successful. Companies who integrate green chemistry into their operations enter a promising field of new technologies and new business opportunities.”

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