Conducting business responsibly

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection and the efficient use of resources are fundamental drivers for Covestro’s actions, both in terms of our own business activities and the development of innovative product solutions. We continually strive to use materials and energy more efficiently and to reduce emissions and waste generated. Our innovative products also support the efforts of our customers in many industries such as the automotive, construction and electronics sectors, as well as the furniture, sports and textile industries, to improve their own resource efficiency and cut emissions.

For more information, see section “Environmental Protection” in the GRI Supplement

Energy consumption

Covestro’s energy consumption includes the primary energy used in production and during electricity and steam generation by the company as well as the purchase of additional electricity, steam and refrigeration energy and the use of process heat. It also comprises the energy lost during the generation and distribution of electricity and steam. All told, these figures make up Covestro’s equivalent primary energy consumption.

The use of energy and materials and the level of greenhouse gases emitted are closely related to the quantity of materials we produce. In 2018, total energy consumption in the Group decreased by 1.8% while equivalent primary energy consumption grew slightly by 0.5%, with a slight decrease of 0.7% in production volumes. As a result, the equivalent primary energy consumption for a given production volume (energy efficiency) deteriorated by 1.2%. Our long-term positive trend indicating an overall 35.7% improvement in energy efficiency compared to the base year 2005 is attributable to factors including our ongoing efficiency improvement programs and the global energy efficiency system observed by Covestro.

Energy Consumption in the Covestro Group











1 Sum of all individual energy figures translated into primary energy at our main production sites, which account for more than 95% of our energy consumption

2 Sum of the in-spec key products, which in addition to our core products also include products such as precursors and by-products, at our main production sites, which account for more than 95% of our energy consumption

3 Quotient of equivalent primary energy and in-spec production volume at our main production sites

Equivalent primary energy consumption1
(in TJ)





Production volume2
(in million metric tons)





Specific energy consumption (energy efficiency)3
(in MWh per metric ton)





In addition to the successful implementation of energy efficiency measures, a series of energy-related improvements at our production site in Caojing, China, is of particular note. Examples include the use of process-related waste heat and optimized processes that reduce steam requirements.

For more information, see section “Environmental Protection” in the GRI Supplement

Covestro currently plans to build a chlorine production plant at its Spanish site in Tarragona, where it will use a particularly energy-efficient manufacturing process. The plant intends to use what is known as oxygen-depolarized cathode technology, which consumes around one-quarter less energy than the conventional process. In Tarragona, Covestro is building the first industrial-scale plant to operate solely on the basis of this state-of-the-art technology.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Along with governments, nongovernmental organizations and other private-sector companies, Covestro supports implementation of the results of the 21st UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Paris at the end of 2015, and is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Covestro calculates greenhouse gas emissions according to the internationally recognized standards of the (GHG Protocol). The calculations include both direct emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and indirect emissions from the procurement and consumption of energy generated outside the company such as electricity, heating or refrigeration energy. In addition to CO2, all other relevant greenhouse gases are also documented. The emissions factors for the calculation of CO2 equivalents for the global warming potential were taken from the 1995 IPCC Assessment Report.

In 2018, these specific emissions totaled 0.4342 metric tons of CO2 equivalents per metric ton of product (previous year: 0.4064). This corresponds to a cumulative drop of 40.0% compared with the base year 2005, while an increase of 6.8% compared to the previous year was recorded. In 2018 we transitioned to calculating emissions based on the market-based method of the current GHG Protocol. The prior-year figures were recalculated to enable comparison based on consistent methodology. The cumulative change until 2017 is calculated using the method established in the GHG Protocol until 2014. The 2018 figure is calculated using the market-based method of the current GHG Protocol.

Covestro Group Greenhouse Gas Emissions1











1 Portfolio-adjusted based on the GHG Protocol; financial control approach; global warming potential (GWP) factors correspond to the “IPCC 2nd Assessment Report”

2 Total greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2, GHG Protocol) at the main production sites, which are responsible for more than 95% of our energy consumption (total of 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in 2018) divided by the in-spec production volumes for key products. Market-based emissions factors were mostly used when calculating specific Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions; wherever these were not available, calculation was based on countryspecific emissions factors from a generally accepted source (e.g. International Energy Agency (IEA)).

3 Prior year figures adjusted due to the conversion to market-based emissions method in accordance with the current GHG Protocol. The indirect emissions were calculated partially on the basis of the IEA data from the IEA Emission factors 2018 © 2019 IEA Online Data Services, The greenhouse gas emissions calculated are based in part on estimates such as the previous year’s data.

Specific greenhouse gas emissions (metric tons of CO2 equivalents per metric ton of production volume2)





The main cause of the increase was unfavorable developments in the energy mix for the generation of steam and electricity at several of our large sites in Germany and the United States. This necessitates redoubled efforts in coming years to reach our target of cutting our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025.

See section “Company-wide Sustainability Management”

Development of Specific Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Cumulative annual change in the specific greenhouse gas emissions per metric ton of product manufactured, compared with the base year 2005 – expressed in percent1

Development of Specific Greenhouse Gas Emissions (line chart)

1 The calculation methods for the fiscal year 2018 were changed to the current market-based method, in accordance with the Scope 2 Guidance of the GHG Protocol. Values recognized from 2005 to 2017 are calculated throughout in accordance with the methods established in the GHG Protocol and which were in effect until 2014. When calculating changes in percentage points from 2017 to 2018, the value for 2017 was recalculated on the basis of the market- based method, for comparability purposes.

Moreover, Covestro develops products whose manufacture results in lower CO2 emissions than those of conventional products – by using CO2 as a raw material, for instance. To this end, the company began marketing an innovative binder for which a key component is produced using as much as 20% CO2. In this way, the same quantity of petrochemical raw materials is saved and the CO2 footprint improves.

Water, effluents and waste

Covestro takes a holistic view of water as a resource. We not only take our water consumption and the related problems of water scarcity and water quality into consideration but also the wastewater we generate and the growing concern of plastic waste in the oceans. As part of this, we initiated a risk assessment of our production sites to examine water availability, quality and accessibility. In our production activities, we strive to use water several times and to recycle it. Covestro primarily generates wastewater from once-through cooling systems and production. All wastewater is subject to strict monitoring and analysis according to the applicable legal regulations before it is discharged into disposal channels.

For economic considerations alone, Covestro’s manufacturing processes are already as efficient as possible when it comes to the use of materials, so only relatively little waste is produced as a result. Ongoing observation and evaluation of the manufacturing processes additionally minimize material consumption and disposal volumes as much as possible. This is achieved by safe disposal channels with separation according to the type of waste and economically expedient recycling processes. Production fluctuations, building demolition and refurbishment, and land remediation also influence waste volumes and recycling paths. Accordingly, the volume of hazardous waste generated was reduced, whereas the total waste volume produced (hazardous and nonhazardous) in 2018 increased significantly. This was primarily due to the higher volume of construction waste resulting from the construction of the new administrative building at the Leverkusen site. Targeted projects are in place to determine specific opportunities for waste reduction and put these into practice within the context of our existing manufacturing processes. For instance, a new procedure is currently being tested in the manufacturing process for our bulk product (TDI), which serves to significantly reduce the resulting process waste volumes. After its successful implementation, the findings can subsequently be transferred to additional plants at other Covestro sites.

Covestro also supports the reuse and treatment of its materials in accordance with economic and environmental criteria. Some of the waste created by our production processes with a high heating value is burned as fuel to generate steam for our production facilities.

Our commitment to the topic of sustainability plays an increasingly vital role with regard to the purchasing of packaging materials. The responsible unit has implemented measures to address this, including establishing a new procedure in the packaging procurement process. This allows Covestro to now review whether and to what extent used or reconditioned packaging can be used in the place of new packaging. For instance, Covestro uses PCR (post consumer regrind) plastic barrels for waste transportation. Drums made of recycled polyethylene (PE) replace PE drums from newly produced material. Thus, Covestro uses fewer raw materials, reduces emissions and has established the initial building blocks for a in the area of transport and packaging.

Covestro supports initiatives such as Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), which focus on preventing plastic particles from entering waterways and oceans. We have introduced global measures to minimize as best as possible the loss of plastic pellets on the way from production to the finished product at our customers’ locations. In 2018, we once again urged our partners in the supply chain to join the initiative, while at the same time continually monitoring our own progress. In 2019, we would like to further strengthen our commitment to the OCS initiative and provide additional encouragement to our supply chain partners.

GHG Protocol/Greenhouse Gas Protocol
International accounting system for greenhouse gas emissions developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
TDI/toluylene diisoycanate
A chemical compound from the class of aromatic isocyanates, primarily used in polyurethane foams and coating systems
Circular economy
A regenerative economic system in which resource input, waste production, emissions and energy consumption are minimized based on long lasting and closed material and energy cycles