Our vision of delivering performance that makes a difference is exemplified by our products that provide health, safety, environmental and other sustainability benefits for our customers and their customers.
We are committed to continuing to develop innovative products that improve the performance of our customers’ products by imparting properties that extend product life spans, increase fuel efficiency and optimize resource conservation. We look to grow our involvement in the circular economy by developing opportunities to use waste or byproducts as raw materials. As responsible manufacturers, we understand our obligation to share comprehensive information on the health, safety and environmental aspects of our products.
In 2021, we successfully launched our product sustainability assessment framework. This comprehensive, in-house process evaluates new product development projects for safety, environmental, and health impacts and includes more than forty questions about sustainability impacts ranging from air emissions to recyclability, potential safety risks to workers, and many more. The assessment covers sustainability impacts across the product life cycle from design to manufacturing, use, and end-of-life. For each potential impact, the new product is rated in comparison to an existing product benchmark, and the results are scored.
In our first full year, we assessed 100% of the new product development projects across all of our top product applications. Given the dynamic nature of product development, the performance of our project portfolio changes from month to month. Still, we are proud to report that our snapshot from December 2021 showed that 72% of active projects had a sustainability benefit. This encouraging start will help us as we strive toward our 2025 target that 100% of new products will have a sustainability benefit.
Product Life Cycle
We initiated a cradle-to-gate life cycle analysis of our carbon black products that will allow us to focus our attention on key opportunities along our value chain to reduce our overall greenhouse gas footprint. Once this analysis is complete, we expect to be able to provide Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emission estimates and other environmental aspects for various carbon black product grades in 2021.
Product Sustainability Award
Our engineered elastomer composites (E2C™) product line was named to the European Rubber Journal’s inaugural list of Top 10 Elastomers for Sustainability.
These products target the heavy mining equipment space where investments in efficiency and automation create strong demand for high-performance rubber. We are proud to be the only carbon black company recognized in this Top 10 list.
Advancing innovation in energy materials
Our Energy Materials business recently made a $2 million investment in Group 14, a startup company with promising technology for improving lithium-ion battery (LIB) performance.
Group 14 manufactures novel LIB materials that boost battery performance and are designed for low cost and “drop in” compatibility with existing LIB production. With the investment, Group 14 will scale up the manufacturing of a next-generation anode material and advance it into commercial production. As a result of the investment, we are working with other industry leaders on material development and have the unique opportunity to closely collaborate with industry-leading battery material suppliers and battery original equipment manufacturers to help understand and solve next-generation LIB performance issues.
Improving circular economy of plastics
Our new black masterbatch series utilizes postindustrial carbon black and recycled carbons, a great option for plastics manufacturers seeking more sustainable solutions to comply with global environmental and labeling standards.
These new formulations are specifically designed to help the industry lower its carbon footprint and increase the amount of recycled and secondary content in end products. Furthering our sustainability objectives in this area, we became a signatory of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. We also pledged to take actions to reduce plastic waste as part of the Operation Clean Sweep® program.
Expanding advanced carbons portfolio
We are actively working with customers serving the automotive industry to advance applications of carbon nanostructure (CNS) technology.
This work led to the creation of a new family of unique materials that consists of a network of crosslinked carbon nanotubes manufactured using a proprietary process. ATHLOS™ CNS is an innovative new solution that will allow us to help customers better respond to the premium performance demands of next-generation plastic applications by enabling an optimal balance of electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, conductivity, mechanical strength and processability. The addition of ATHLOS CNS to EMI shielding solutions enables significant lightweighting and miniaturization advantages by replacing or reducing the loading of traditional metal-based alternatives.
Providing ongoing regulatory and safety support to our customers
Our team of product regulatory specialists provides the information and compliance support to help our customers use our products in a wide variety of applications and geographies.
Activities included preregistration for chemical control regulations in Korea and Eurasia, partnering with our industry peers to meet EU REACH nanomaterial requirements, and supporting ongoing toxicology research on carbon black.
Advancing Our Customers
We are constantly working with our customers to find innovative solutions that will help them advance their own products. In many cases, this allows us to work with customers who have their own ambitions for sustainability by developing products with superior efficiency, durability, or cutting edge applications like those for renewable energy.