27.10.2017  |  Klima, miljø og energi

Partnership key for driving sustainability

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Cooperation is needed to drive sustainability - across industry borders and throughout the whole value chain from raw material producers to consumers. This was confirmed during the innovation seminar in Stockholm, organized by BASF and the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce.

Watch the film from the event here!

- We are all responsible for keeping our planet in good condition for future generations. The 17 Sustainable Development goals form the framework for our work, not the least number 17 which is about partnerships in order to reach the goals. This is often forgotten. But we can only change if we cooperate across the entire value chain. Everyone must take responsibility for moving in the right direction”" said Dirk Voeste, Vice President Sustainability Strategy at BASF.

Together with Mark Meier, Managing Director BASF Nordic/Baltic, and Markus Müller-Neumann, Senior Manager of European Innovation Policies at BASF, he introduced the seminar "Innovations for a sustainable future – How can we speed up?" Representatives from the industry, trade and public sector gathered to discuss what is needed in order better transform research and innovation into sustainable solutions for ie. cars, paint, batteries, textiles, cosmetics and food.

Innovative solutions often more expensive
The panel also emphasized the importance of cooperation in order to replace more fossil-based, or health-hazardous raw materials and create new sustainable products for companies and end consumers.

- In cooperation with BASF we have launched a paint color where we replaced a fossil-based adhesive with raw materials based on renewable resources. We were first in Scandinavia doing this, and we have a clear strategy in our innovation work, said Bengt Jacobsson, Managing Director of DAW Nordic AB.

One problem, however, is that innovative products are often more expensive than the traditional options that have been available for a long time. The renewable raw material can be costly to produce, the production more complicated and the volumes relatively small, at least in the beginning.

The government invests in new solutions
Many authorities and other actors in the public sector are today involved in the innovation work linked to the five strategic cooperation programs defined by the government. In this way, new innovative solutions will not only be developed but also be competitive on the market, "said Jon Simonsson, Head of the Innovation & Research Unit at the Ministry of Enterprise:

- We have made announcements of SEK 700 million and industry contributes with about the same amount. The government's idea is that other actors should respond to our initiatives and priorities. For example, there is a big pressure on the public sector to serve as a test bed for different innovative solutions and a new authority is focusing on including innovations in procurement.

Concern about chemicals in Swedish society
- A challenge for the chemical industry is its negative image among end consumers. More needs to be done to address the prejudices and concerns that consumers have regarding the use of certain chemicals in, for example, beauty and cleaning products, said Anna Lilja, Responsible “Sustainable Consumer” at the Consumer Association Stockholm.

- Just the word chemical industry makes some consumers worry. This concern must be understood and accepted. Sometimes it is justified, sometimes not. But there is a gap between consumers and manufacturers - partly due to ignorance - where misunderstandings are thriving. Companies need to be more transparent and engage in dialogue with society to meet this concern.

At the end, it is in each company's long-term business interest to act in a sustainable way, although in the short term some customers may be able to produce and sell cheaper.

- Sustainability is about making successful business in the long run. If we are doing well but we do not balance short-term and long-term needs, we will not be able to survive for a long time. BASF as a company is over 150 years old and we want to continue to be an important player in the market even in the future. At the same time, we must also ensure that profitability is maintained, otherwise we cannot afford to develop new sustainable solutions, said Dirk Voeste.

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At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The approximately 114,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional M…

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