Career News
June 11, 2021

#WhyWeDoIt - Stephan

#WhyWeDoIt - Stephan is responsible for the global business development of environmental technologies in the Active Oxygens Business Line at Evonik. In his interview, he explains what inspires him about his job and how he works with Evonik to act more sustainably.

Everyone has a passion - what inspires you privately and professionally?

I believe that I only get excited about topics in which I can make a difference and can change something in a positive way. In my private life, I therefore also like to campaign for minorities, as in 2015 with the care of refugees, and professionally, increasingly, for sustainable solutions for the environment. That is why, in my current role, I quickly focused on applications in which, for example, water treatment or the reuse of process water streams play a key role.

Today, together with partner companies from the plant engineering sector, state-of-the-art solutions can be designed that enable efficient, oxidative treatment methods using hydrogen peroxide. These are also used for low, but highly toxic volume flows in the pretreatment, in order to safely remove toxic or persistent organic substances and not to feed them to biological treatment. A reduction in the “water footprint” and the avoidance of negative environmental influences are an exciting field of activity. It is not only industrial aspects that count, but also social interests - because the careful use of water as a vital resource is relevant for all of us!

How important is the topic of sustainability in your job?

As a business developer, sustainibility is my motivation to make life better for all of us. To do this, I need the support of my colleagues. Especially new employees - for example Generation Y and Z - bring valuable perspectives with them and help us to continuously further develop the topic of sustainability.

Environmentally friendly and efficient technologies can make a valuable contribution. The use of hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid also supports this, as they do not leave any harmful decomposition products behind, but make an important contribution to the disinfection, detoxification or oxygenation of aquatic waters and thus lead to less environmental pollution. This creates new markets and areas of application, the dynamism of which can be found in the improvement of life cycle assessments or changed environmental requirements.

Evonik supports the 17 goals of the United Nations for sustainable development. How does its implementation impact on your work?

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 fits very well here - clean water and sanitation. To this day, many people in different regions of the world have no access to clean drinking water, and a large part of the wastewater is released completely untreated into the environment. The related problems for humans, animals and the environment have been known for years. Economic interests or poverty are often a hurdle and there is a lack of controls or active awareness-raising, especially in emerging countries.

I would also like to mention SDG 14 - Life under water. The negative environmental effects of steadily growing aquacultures can be reduced through improved farming practice. In addition, there is a strong trend towards the construction of land-based recirculation systems that enable the supply of locally produced fish, free of environmental influences. By 2030, for example, it is expected that one third of salmon farming will take place in so-called 'Recirculating Aquaculture Systems' (RAS systems) - around 1,000,000 tons of fish per year. We are also following this trend with hydrogen peroxide approaches for optimal water treatment of the tanks.

Evonik has been a member of the German Water Partnership (GWP) network since the beginning of the year. What does Evonik want to achieve with this membership?

The GWP network enables a targeted exchange between various German companies that are active in the water sector. This includes medium-sized companies as well as global market leaders such as Xylem, Lanxess, etc. as well as partners from science, for example the Fraunhofer Institute IGB, Stuttgart. Partners can exchange ideas at various regional forums, identify joint projects or start cooperation with local organizations. There is also the possibility of participating in joint congresses and conferences, or of attending to a tradeshow by participating in a joint GWP booth at the leading environmental fair IFAT 2022 in Munich. For our business area, the GWP network offers a good opportunity to strengthen our position in water management, to evaluate joint technology partnerships with providers in plant construction / engineering and to take part in various initiatives or showcase studies. Thanks to various German partner ministries of the GWP, there is also relevant political support for network activities, especially in terms of international representation.

What is your vision for water management solutions from Evonik?

I see the water management of the future as a great challenge for industry, municipalities, politics and society. These requirements can only be met holistically. Intelligent technology, smart networks and digital solutions also play an essential role here. In this context, Evonik can be a valuable network partner with sustainable product properties but also with targeted digital solution concepts. With cooperation partners, internationally available expert resources and in-house technology developments, we can make a significant contribution. The correct handling of the source water helps to avoid water scarcity and pollution, to comply with legal regulations, to replace aging infrastructure with leaks and to master the challenges arising from climate change together. For me, as part of the Evonik team of environmental experts, it is an exciting task to find high-performance, innovative solutions to solve future global water problems.

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