Beiersdorf and Evonik join forces on sustainable raw materials research

Beiersdorf and chemicals giant Evonik have joined forces to research sustainable raw materials for care products, using carbon dioxide (CO2) as the starting material.

Beiersdorf is seeking new sources of raw materials to help reduce the company’s carbon footprint. One option being considered is artificial photosynthesis technology. According to Evonik, with the aid of electricity from solar energy and bacteria, raw materials are produced with water and CO2, drawing on natural photosynthesis as a model.

The joint research project is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at around €1 million. “This research cooperation fits perfectly with our sustainability agenda, an ambitious programme that we are implementing systematically and across all functions,” said Dr May Shana’a, corporate senior vice-president of research and development at Beiersdorf.

“We are pursuing a vision of becoming climate positive, and we want to play a part in closing the carbon cycle.

“Together with Evonik, we are determining which raw materials can be produced with the aid of artificial photosynthesis and could potentially be suitable for our care products. While this has already been observed in the early stages of several other industries, this application is in its infancy in the cosmetics industry. We are therefore especially proud to be entering into this research partnership.”

Thomas Haas, who is responsible for artificial photosynthesis at Evonik, commented: “By using CO2 as the starting material for the production of valuable raw materials, we can close the carbon cycle – exactly as demonstrated by nature with photosynthesis.”

Evonik is developing the technology platform needed for artificial photosynthesis together with Siemens in the Rheticus project funded by the BMBF. The company believes that the research cooperation launched with Beiersdorf, which is independent of the partnership with Siemens, is an opportunity for the company to expand the future product portfolio for artificial photosynthesis. Haas added: “With Beiersdorf, we have a partner who is joining us in extending the value chain to include sustainable CO2-based products, in the interests of the consumer.”

Along with this project, both companies are partners in the BMBF’s P2X II project in September 2019, as one of the projects of Kopernikus, one of the biggest German research initiatives in the field of energy transition. A total of 24 partners are involved in the P2X II project to develop processes that use renewable energy to produce ‘high-quality products’.

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