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Covestro-Amulix: A New Journey to Pushing the Boundaries Beginsqrcode

Sep. 8, 2021

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Sep. 8, 2021

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With the completion of the acquisition and integration work, Covestro-Amulix, which is dedicated to the development and production of starch-based solutions for agricultural applications, will start its new journey to become fully circular. Dalia Gončiauskaitė, general manager of Covestro-Amulix, told AgroPages why should they take this big step and how will they make it come true.


Could you please briefly introduce Covestro-Amulix and its seed treatment business?


Covestro-Amulix (previously known as DSM-Amulix) is a joint venture between Dynaplak, a developer of starch-based solutions for industrial applications and Covestro. Covestro creates materials the world relies on every day. Our high-tech polymers are used in nearly every area of modern life and in a wide range of industries: Automotive, construction, healthcare, cosmetics, energy, electronics, sports and leisure.


But we don't just produce materials. Together with our partners and customers, we're taking big steps to tackle a fundamental challenge: Shifting towards a Circular Economy, we are determined to become fully circular. To achieve this bold goal, we're innovating efficient ways to close energy and material cycles, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with polymers.


Covestro-Amulix joint venture is dedicated to the development and production of starch-based solutions for agricultural applications.


DSM Resins & Functional Materials (containing DSM-Amulix) was acquired by Covestro last year. Could you please tell us some of the background of Covestro, as well as this transaction?


On April 1, 2021, Covestro successfully completed the acquisition of the Resins & Functional Materials business (RFM) from the Dutch company Royal DSM. The transaction received regulatory approval after Covestro and DSM signed an acquisition agreement in late September 2020. The transaction substantially expands Covestro’s portfolio of sustainable coating resins, making the Group one of the world’s leading providers in the resin industry. The integration of RFM will expand the Group’s revenues by around EUR 1 billion and will add more than 20 sites to its global manufacturing network.

 

With the transaction, Covestro is expanding its business in several areas. The Group is already one of the leading global providers of water-based polyurethane dispersions. The acquisition adds a complete range of water-based resins and hybrids, as well as strong brands in terms of sustainability such as Niaga® and Decovery. In addition, Covestro is enhancing its technology portfolio to include water-based hybrid technologies, powder coating resins as well as radiation curing resins.


6844234169534314.pngWhat are the advantages of Covestro-Amulix’s products?


Our Amulix® seed coatings are just one example of how biodegradable solutions can support the transition to a circular economy. Polymer seed coatings enable crop protection products, such as fungicides and insecticides, to be applied without becoming airborne and affecting people and pollinators. Without these crop protection products, 10-15% of harvests would be lost annually. 


To enable farmers to continue protecting their crops without generating microplastics, we developed Amulix®: a biobased, biodegradable seed coating solution. Not only does Amulix® enable a 50% carbon footprint reduction when compared to conventional coatings, it also meets the expected performance requirements: dust control, uniform color distribution, and non-phytotoxicity. In this way, these coatings enable farmers to meet global food demands, while minimizing microplastics pollution.

 

What is the EU’s current regulatory policy on the use of microplastics in seed treatment products? When will the use of microplastics in seed treatment be completely prohibited in the EU?


Striving for a circular economy


Polymers are all around us: in personal care products, agriculture applications, wallpaper and paints. But, in recent years, concern about the environmental damage caused by polymers has increased and the regulations around them have tightened, particularly when it comes to microplastics and single-use plastics.


Securing a sustainable future requires a greater focus on resources and circularity: specifically, ensuring the future availability of natural resources and unlocking more value from the limited resources that are available. This ambition will involve reducing our resource consumption, replacing fossil feedstock with recycled and biobased materials, extending product lifetimes using durable and protective materials, designing for circularity, and recovering internal waste streams.


korforgasos-gazdasag-oko-pack-biobased-economy-circular-economy.jpgBiodegradation: An essential driver of circularity and avoiding microplastics


When recovery and recycling aren’t possible, circularity can also be achieved through biodegradation. As such, biodegradable materials have an important role to play in driving the transition to a circular economy. This potential is reflected in regulations such as the European Chemical Agency (ECHA)’s restriction proposal for microplastic particles that are intentionally added to mixtures used by consumers or professionals.


The proposal defines microplastics as synthetic polymer particles under 5mm that, importantly, resist biodegradation. If a material can be certified as biodegradable, it will not be classed as a microplastic, and manufacturers can continue to use it without restriction. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also piloting product labels that certify biodegradability, with similar requirements.


How is Covestro-Amulix planning to support industry’s transition to circular/biodegradable solutions?


It is important to mention that when you can recycle you should. Biodegradation is only acceptable when recycling is not an option and avoids the accumulation of plastics in any shape or form in nature. 

 

Helping drive the use of biodegradable materials


We are well-placed to drive the transition to a circular economy, thanks to our position near the start of the materials value chain. We offer several coating solutions that meet OECD 301 biodegradability standards. These solutions can be used in hair styling products, cosmetics, or sun protection products. What’s more, our biodegradable materials are all cost-competitive with established non-biodegradable alternatives.


Because different applications require different rates of biodegradation, we use different biobased building blocks, where we can control material properties and design perfect solution for any application. Tuning different properties we can achieve biodegradation ranging from 0 – 90%. This is relevant for applications where biodegradability is required as recovery of the polymer is impossible, but the useful lifetime of the coating needs to be longer.  To make sure we are futureproof and will meet ECHA requirements we test all of our materials following OECD 301F guidelines. In addition we are in the process of certifying some of our products according to ISO standards: OK biodegradable in soil and water.


What are your expectations for the future?


In today’s fast-changing regulatory landscape, biodegradable solutions will play a key role in helping manufacturers to stay ahead of regulatory requirements and supporting the transition to a circular economy. In particular, biodegradable polymers such as Amulix® can enable a wide range of industries to keep delivering high-performance solutions. Together with our partners, Covestro-Amulix can offer materials expertise, tailored biodegradability, and in-house testing to help facilitate these solutions.


To find out more about our biodegradable solutions and tailored advice please contact Dalia.Gonciauskaite@dsm.com.


This article was initially published in AgroPages' '2021 Seed Treatment Special' magazine.


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