Small but powerful

Article by Kerry Hebden

White biotech: Lab technicians show a fungal culture grown on rice

BASF announces future filled with bacteria, waste, and recycling

WITH the global white biotechnology market expected to reach US$715bn by 2030, and a worldwide focus on sustainability dominating production, it is perhaps no coincidence that BASF chose this year’s Research Media Conference to announce that bacteria, waste and recycling will feature highly in the company’s future.

Entitled “Small but powerful – driving sustainability with microorganisms”, BASF’s conference discussed how the demand for products to become climate neutral, coupled with ensuring the company is compliant with the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is driving forward the transformation of its business with alternative concepts and approaches centred around its R&D platform.

“To master global challenges such as climate change and make the best use of limited natural resources, our society needs innovations from chemistry more than ever. In addition to approaches from chemistry, biotechnology is opening up many new opportunities for us in this regard,” said Melanie Maas-Brunner, BASF’s Chief Technology Officer.

Faced with soaring energy costs and high inflation at a time when governments worldwide adopt ambitious climate targets, Maas-Brunner said energy intensive companies like BASF must adapt to deal with these changes. “We must create a circular economy, scrutinise many of our products, and achieve a digital transformation,” she said.

To achieve their goal of net zero emissions by 2050, Maas-Brunner said BASF is in the process of transitioning to renewable energy sources and one of the first steps it is undertaking is the construction of a 1.5 GW wind farm in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands.

The firm is also aiming to process around 250,000 t/y of recycled raw materials by 2025, but warned that the firm’s raw material base will still contain carbon because its products are based on carbon. “We can decarbonise energy inputs, but it is impossible to fully decarbonise our products,” Maas-Brunner said. Instead, BASF is working towards replacing as much fossil feedstock with renewable materials. “To do this we need partners to supply us with sustainable sources of hydrocarbon compounds, so waste is transformed into valuable raw materials. Waste must be collected and sorted. And products must have the right properties to be suitable for chemical recycling,” Maas-Brunner said.

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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