October 11, 2023

#2 – Elements of the Next Generation Evonik  

The Green Journal: How the Project Next Generation Evonik is divided up and how I can contribute here.


Hi and welcome to my blog! I'm excited to tell you about my latest experiences and insights from the field of sustainability at Evonik. Now that you are ready, let's dive into the >> Elements of Next Generation Evonik >>!

Remember my last post where I told you about the connection of sustainability in the strategy at Evonik? And do you also remember the Next Generation Evonik? Then I would like to share with you my findings and conversations about the first two pillars of Next Generation Evonik.

What does "Technologies" mean in the context of sustainability at Evonik?

Mikko, from the department Sustainability Strategy, answered my questions on this. "With Next Gen Technologies, Evonik has set itself the goal of reducing the Footprint and thus impacting Scope 1 and Scope 2." The scopes refer to CO2 emissions and, in case you want to read Evonik's sustainability goals again, you can find them in post #1. The goal is linked to Evonik's own productions and manufacturing technologies, resulting in the continuous development and improvement of manufacturing technologies.

Chemical processes often require a lot of heat. One goal is to use this heat multiple times in different processes instead of cooling it away after one use. This is just one example of many. "But the challenge here is to develop these technologies on an industrial scale," Mikko explained to me during our conversation.

And this leads me to the points: Expand sustainable and energy-saving technologies for development and adapt the existing ones with the challenge of creating this on an industrial scale.

What does "Solutions" mean in the context of sustainability at Evonik?

"Next Generation Solutions are about Evonik's portfolio, they target the handprint of the products," Susann, from the department Sustainability Strategie, explains to me. This involves looking at all Evonik's products, not just the products themselves, but also the associated upstream and downstream value chains (i.e. resource use extraction use in downstream products and their end-of-life-management, etc.). To illustrate this: You don't just look at the environmental footprint of an electric car in its factory, but also in its production and what happens to it and its materials after its "operating life"!

The Next Generation Solutions are then those Evonik products which, in the assessment including the upstream and downstream value chain, have an above-average sustainability performance and thus, for example, cause lower CO2 consumption The goal is therefore to develop into a sustainable portfolio. In order to become a NextGen Solution, the product must not have a negative performance in one of the assessment categories along the value chain. Here again, I see the special feature that the goal of improving the handprint is to reduce the environmental impact not only of its own (manufacturing) processes, but also of other people/companies and downstream products. Often the potential for saving energy, resources and emissions is many times higher than for the own footprint!

But how does this assessment take place?

In 2018, Evonik, together with other companies, developed a tool on behalf of the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), PSA, meaning the Portfolio Sustainability Assessment, with which products can be assessed in terms of their sustainability. "It's a process and it gives indications to the business at any time where our products are performing above average, meeting market requirements, or even where there is evidence of underperformance," says Susann.

And why PSA?

The Portfolio Sustainability Assessment has high evaluation criteria, is robust and therefore very attractive, as all important points for the sustainable evaluation are covered. Moreover, the perspective is along the entire value chain.

And how does the assessment work? "The products are always evaluated for the handprint in their application with comparison to an alternative solution, the market reference," Susann explains to me. So in short: How does product XY compare to the alternative solution?

The special feature of PSA

With the insight into PSA and our Next Generations Solutions, I asked myself what is special about it. Susann was able to provide me with answers immediately. The aspect of a holistic view of the product in the application is very helpful in order to look as far as possible at the end point and to consider the use of our products. This in turn is beneficial for the look across the entire value chain and for understanding how our products behave in a circular economy.

All these points convinced me that the portfolio is being considered and assessed in a meaningful and sustainable way. And also as Susann said, "It's a process to look honestly at the portfolio and make it future-proof."

I don't want to overwhelm you with too much information at once now, so I will introduce you to the third pillar Next Generation Culture at a later time.

Instead, you can look forward to an exciting insight into the department: Life Cycle Management, next time.