BASF is the first company in the world to voluntarily compile details of its carbon footprint on a regular basis. The results now published for 2008 show that when used by customers, BASF products save three times more greenhouse gas emissions than are released in the manufacture and disposal of all products made by BASF. The company published its first carbon footprint in February 2008.
BASF uses the lifetime principle to calculate greenhouse gas emissions; in other words it analyzes the entire lifecycle of the company’s products. This involves looking not just at in-house facilities, but also raw materials and inputs and how these are manufactured and transported, and the disposal of chemical products at the end of their lives. At the same time, the BASF product portfolio was analyzed to see what volume of greenhouse gas emissions could be saved by using the products for climate protection. The product groups selected from the entire company portfolio were those that save at least twice as much greenhouse gas emissions when used by BASF customers as are released in their production and disposal. In 2008, these products made up about 10 percent of BASF sales.
The BASF carbon footprint for 2008 is derived from a comparison of emissions and savings. Emissions from raw materials, inputs, production and disposal come to roughly 90 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents (28 million of these from in-house production). By comparison, the use of BASF products saves 287 million tons of CO2, resulting in a ratio of 3 to 1. An independent study by the Institute of Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) in Freiburg has confirmed the accuracy of BASF’s calculations.
At just under 250 million tons, the greatest contribution to reducing emissions comes from products for the construction and housing sector, mainly insulation materials for renovating older buildings and concrete additives. Contributions in other sectors include plastics for making cars lighter, nitrification inhibitors in agriculture and materials used in the generation of solar and wind power .
Carbon footprint as a quantitative measure of climate protection
“As the world’s leading chemical company, we support climate protection in two ways,” says Dr. Ulrich von Deessen, head of the Competence Center Environment, Health & Safety and Climate Protection Officer at BASF. “First of all, we optimize energy and resource efficiency in our production processes. By doing so, we also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Then we look to see which chemical products enable new, climate friendly technologies. These products will become increasingly important in the future. Our carbon footprint offers us a quantitative basis to help us to decide how to improve in these two areas and how to set a course for the future.”
To date there is no global standard for compiling corporate carbon footprints. BASF welcomes initiatives for standardization – but the effort involved needs to be practicable. Further methodical developments were taken into account in calculating the carbon footprint 2008. “Corporate carbon footprints highlight the opportunities and threats that companies face as a result of climate change,” says von Deessen. “This is important both for the company itself, as well as for stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees.”
Ratio of 3 to 1 to be maintained or even improved in the long term
“In areas such as construction, automobiles and industrial production, our products help our customers to save more than 250 million metric tons of CO 2 worldwide,” says BASF Board member Dr. Harald Schwager. This is three times as much as is emitted through the production and disposal of all of BASF’s products. “We want to maintain or even improve this ratio through new products and innovations, and by continuing to reduce our own emissions,” says Schwager.
For example, BASF is developing innovative technologies and materials for sustainable climate protection. BASF spends around €400 million, or about one-third of its total research and development budget, in the areas of energy efficiency, climate protection, resource conservation and renewable raw materials.
Energy efficiency to be increased by 25 percent by 2020
BASF also wants to further improve on what it has achieved in the areas of climate protection and energy efficiency and has set itself new ambitious goals. By 2020, BASF aims to reduce its specific greenhouse gas emissions, i.e., per metric ton of product sold, by 25 percent compared with 2002. In addition, for the first time, BASF has set a quantitative goal for improving energy efficiency. “We have made significant progress and have continuously improved BASF’s energy efficiency in recent years. We want to become even better and aim to increase the specific energy efficiency of our production processes by 25 percent by 2020 compared with 2002,” says Schwager.
To emphasize the strategic importance of climate protection, BASF appointed a Climate Protection Officer for the first time in 2008: Dr. Ulrich von Deessen, head of the Competence Center Environment, Health & Safety . The Climate Protection Officer is a member of BASF’s Sustainability Council and coordinates all the company’s activities in this area worldwide. This includes topics like greenhouse gas emissions from the production and disposal of products, well as the long-term positioning of BASF in the area of climate protection.