Solvay is launching a new Renewable Materials and Biotechnology platform, dedicated to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for a range of markets, using renewable feedstocks and biotechnology. The company is already a market leader in some bio-based products, including guar, bio-sourced solvents and natural vanillin, the latter of which is enabled by biotechnology.
The new platform will bring together several Solvay businesses to help meet growing demand for sustainable solutions by increasing the share of renewable carbon1 in Solvay’s product offering and developing new business opportunities enabled by biotechnology. It complements Solvay’s three existing growth platforms, Battery Materials, Green Hydrogen and Thermoplastic Composites.
“The sustainable use of renewable resources and biotechnology has gained momentum in the industry and has the potential to help solve some of the most pressing challenges faced by society today,” said Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “Through our new growth platform, we aim to connect with our partners to reinvent progress, as we have done throughout our 160-year history, playing a key role in the chemical industry’s transition to the bioeconomy and helping to create the sustainable and circular solutions required by society.”
The platform will accelerate the integration of sustainable renewable feedstocks into Solvay products. It will also enable the development of new approaches to manage the end-of-life of these products, which includes biodegradability by design. This presents enormous innovation potential, which Solvay is well positioned to leverage, both through internal expertise and strong links with customers and external innovation partners. Through open innovation and strategic alliances, Solvay intends to build new growth businesses that will benefit multiple markets, while also helping to address key societal and environmental needs. This includes providing formulations for agro and personal care, solutions for food and flavors, and advanced materials for transportation and aerospace
Through enabling the development of sustainable solutions based on renewable carbon, the platform will also play a fundamental role in the achievement of Solvay’s 2030 sustainability goals, set out in the Solvay One Planet sustainability roadmap. These goals include increasing the share of sustainable solutions in Group sales to 65% and more than doubling the share of Solvay products based on circular raw materials or energy in Group sales compared to 2018, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
1 Renewable carbon encompasses carbon sources that prevent or replace the use of fossil carbon. This definition includes carbon from biomass, CO2 and recycling.
The transition to a carbon neutral future requires a radical transformation in how chemistry is designed. Renewable materials and biotechnology present an outstanding opportunity for Solvay to reinvent the way in which it produces chemicals, by combining chemistry and biology to convert feedstocks into valuable and sustainable solutions. These can then serve as a starting point for the creation of new growth businesses that will enable Solvay to expand its customer base.
Renewable feedstocks and the use of biotechnology also have the potential to provide solutions addressing many of the challenges facing the world, including pollution, resource scarcity and overpopulation, while helping to meet growing consumer demand for sustainable products.
Biotechnology is a disruptive technology with the potential to cause profound change in the chemical industry. It uses enzymes or living microbes to transform renewable or fossil feedstocks into valuable molecules. These can then be used to produce renewable products or help manage products at the end of life. In recent years, rapid advances in synthetic biology have revolutionized the field, leading to improved biological microorganisms through the use of new gene editing methods that use computer tools, artificial intelligence and advanced lab automation.
By the end of 2030, synthetic biology will account for more than a third of global output in manufacturing industries. Biotechnology is expected to have an estimated economic impact of more than €2 trillion annually by 2040.