Technological watch

Monthly news from the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI), February 2024

Let’s take a look at what happened in February 2024 at RCI:

1) PR on the fossil updates in LCA database ecoinvent„Products made from crude oil have a significantly higher CO2 footprint that previously assumed“Recent updates to the Swiss ecoinvent database clarified the significant environmental impacts of products derived from crude oil, revealing higher carbon footprints than previously thought. These updates, particularly in ecoinvent versions 3.9 and 3.10, provide more accurate data on the supply chains of fossil feedstocks and plastics, including unintended methane emissions during extraction and processing. As a result, the carbon footprint of crude oil and its derivatives has increased significantly between ecoinvent versions 3.8 and 3.10.

These findings lead to a re-evaluation of the comparison between products made from petroleum and those made from renewable carbon sources. The updates suggest that bio-based plastics emit 40-50% less CO2 than their fossil-based counterparts, a much wider margin than previously thought. Michael Carus, Executive Manager of RCI, underlines the importance of the transition away from fossil carbon and stresses that these updates highlight the need for greater support from policymakers.

The implications of these findings are expected to influence European policy, potentially increasing support for renewable carbon alternatives in regulations such as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) and the European Commission’s Transition Pathway for the chemical industry. To further understand these updates and their implications, RCI is planning a project to compare the updated fossil footprints in ecoinvent with other major LCA databases such as GaBi and CarbonMinds, with initial results reserved for RCI members.

A short post on LinkedIn already gained a high rate of responses and reactions, (find the post here) and the full PR can be accessed here:

2) Kicking off RCI’s Policy Project: “Comprehensive assessment, evaluation and ranking of policy instruments and measures to support and guide the transition to renewable carbon for chemicals and materials”The Policy Project is the key project of RCI in 2024. The European Union has committed to achieving net-zero emissions for industry as a whole by 2050. For the chemical industry, this can only be achieved by changing its carbon base from fossil to renewable carbon. This project elaborates on what the possible scenarios are and what instruments and measures are needed to achieve net-zero, i.e. what volumes are needed and what the implications are for the 20% non-fossil carbon target in chemical and plastic products by 2030. 

The project will consist of three tasks: 

  • Evaluating of Recent Reports on the Future on a Net-Zero Chemical Industry in 2050
  • Technical Scenarios to Reach 20% Renewable Target in chemical and plastics products by 2030
  • Assessment, evaluation and ranking of policy instruments and measures to support and guide the transition to renewable carbon for chemicals and materials
  • The project intends to involve many external stakeholders via a larger workshop held around end of May / early June, and then aims to provide final outcomes in time for the new Commission that will come together after election and Summer Break in Autumn 2024.

    3) Pitching session at 8th European Chemistry Partnering (ECP) in Frankfurt on 06 February 2024On 6 February 2024, the 8th ECP (European Chemistry Partnering) event took place in Frankfurt, Germany with a focus on tech scouting, bringing together new ideas and start-ups with larger companies and investors. There were plenty of opportunities to network, take part in various pitch sessions and listen to interesting input presentations. These focused on innovative topics such as AI as a megatrend for the chemical industry or Intellectual Property strategies and challenges.

    As a partner of ECP, RCI had been invited to host a one-hour pitching session at the ECP. RCI had the pleasure of presenting four of its members: After a short pitch introducing RCI, the four RCI members presented their start-ups in ten-minute pitches followed by lively discussions. These start-ups were Fibenol, BioBTX, CovationBio and RCI’s newest member, AllocNow.

    More information about ECP:

    4) Upcoming free RCI webinar on 29 February 2024During the next RCI webinar on 29 February 2023, 14:00 to 15:00 h CET, Christopher vom Berg of RCI is going to introduce the Renewable Carbon Initiative and the Renewable Carbon Strategy, and focuses on the upcoming scientific background paper “Non-level Playing Field for Renewable Materials vs. Fossil in Life Cycle Assessments – Critical aspects of the JRC Plastics LCA methodology and its policy implications”. 

    Find the full report here:
    We’ll also have a great lineup of speakers ready to share their expertise on renewable carbon, defossilisation and sustainable carbon cycles. 
    AllocNow (DE, speaker: Daniel Bochnitschek) will talk about how the increasing demand for sustainable and low-carbon-footprint products drives the need for specific and comprehensive information on product environmental footprints. AllocNow will discuss why standardisation of sustainability accounting methodologies is critical and how a data-driven approach can help to create transparency at scale.
    Econic Technologies Ltd (UK, speaker: Keith Wiggins) will talk about opportunities and challenges in quantifying sustainability impact for essential products in complex manufacturing supply chains

    SCS Global Services (USA, speaker: Miguel Ruiz and Jéssica Marcon Bressanin) will shed light on its certification activities focusing on biofuels and circular materials schemes and GHG accounting methodologies.

    You are cordially invited to join us for this free webinar.

    Please feel free to join us:

    5) New segment: RCI member portraitsThe RCI introduces a new feature highlighting our members – RCI member portraits. Each month, we will share insights into a different member company. In this edition, we shine the spotlight on Beiersdorf.

    Here are 5 interesting facts about Beiersdorf as shared by Dr. Manuela Köhler
    (Chief Scientist Feedstock & Formula Science) and Eva-Maria Bredehorst (Manager Global Packaging Sustainability) Beiersdorf, Germany.

    Dr. Manuela Köhler, Beiersdorf Germany © Beiersdorf
  • Innovative skin care solutions: Beiersdorf is known for its innovative, high-quality skincare solutions, offering a wide range of trusted brands such as NIVEA, Eucerin, Hansaplast/Elastoplast and La Prairie. With a rich history dating back to 1882, Beiersdorf has consistently pushed the boundaries of skincare research and development.
    • Commitment to sustainability: As a member of RCI, Beiersdorf demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainability. The company actively pursues renewable carbon initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint and promotes environmentally friendly practices throughout its operations. This is also reflected in Beiersdorf’s recent launches:
      In 2021, the Nivea Naturally Good Face Care – the first product where the jars are made from certified, renewable plastic and in 2022, the NIVEA MEN Climate Care Moisturizer with 14% CCU Ethanol. 
    • Focus on circular economy: Beiersdorf is committed to promoting a circular economy within the beauty and personal care industry. Through initiatives such as recycling programmes and sustainable packaging solutions, the company aims to minimise waste and maximise resource efficiency. Beiersdorf assesses and measures the recyclability of all their product packaging globally and it actively improves the recyclability by applying design-for-recycling standards. As an example, Eucerin introduced an innovative packaging and refill concept for its Hyaluron-Filler product in 2022: The consumer keeps the outer jar and lid and refills easily at home with a minimized click-in recharge unit. The amount of plastic needed to produce the innovative refill system is reduced by 90%. 
    Eva-Maria Bredehorst, Beiersdorf Germany © Beiersdorf
    • Investing in research and development: With a robust research and development infrastructure, Beiersdorf invests heavily in innovation to create cutting-edge skin care products. By leveraging advanced technologies and scientific expertise, the company continues to set industry standards for quality and efficacy. Beiersdorf sees its sustainability ambitions and ‘Climate Care’ mission as a field of innovation. New raw materials from alternative sources that are now not fully leveraged feedstocks yet will offer new benefits, new experience, and new formats. The NIVEA MEN Climate Care Moisturizer is one example of such a new format. Beiersdorf’s R&D Teams work hard to identify raw materials with a lower carbon footprint for its formula and packaging, without compromising on its excellent skin care product quality that consumers love around the world. Via the CCU process, emitted COis captured and then converted and processed to produce a high-quality ethanol that can be used in cosmetics.
    • Global impact: Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Beiersdorf has a global presence with operations on all continents. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations, the company aims to make a positive impact on communities worldwide while driving sustainable growth.
    Beiersdorf’s commitment to renewable carbon feedstocks, innovation, sustainability and global impact exemplifies the values of RCI and its members. We are proud to have Beiersdorf as part of our renewable carbon community. 

    Stay tuned for more member portraits and inspiring stories from RCI!

    6) External Publications on RCIThe latest issue of the Journal of Business Chemistry (Volume 21, Issue 1) features an article by RCI titled “How to Enable the Transition From Fossil to Renewable Carbon in the Chemical and Materials Sector”.

    In the article, Michael Carus and Christopher vom Berg discuss the collaborative efforts of international brands, leading chemical and bio-economy companies and innovative start-ups. It highlights RCI’s focus on leading a smart transition from fossil to renewable carbon and the central role of collaboration in this transformative journey. 

    The Journal of Business Chemistry (JoBC) focuses on current developments and insights at the interface of management and chemistry, biotechnology or pharmaceuticals. JoBC provides an international forum for researchers and practitioners in companies, research institutes, government agencies, consultancies or NGOs to present and discuss current challenges and potential solutions in an interdisciplinary manner.

    Find the full article here: 

    7) Welcoming our newest RCI member

    We would like to welcome our newest member COLIPI!
    COLIPI (DE) produces Climate Oil™ by fermenting Renewable Carbon organic by-products or CO2 from point sources, resulting in an oil with a minimal carbon footprint that can be used as a direct replacement for unsustainable vegetable oils or fossil hydrocarbons. 
    COLIPI’s goal is to help industrial partners reduce their carbon footprint and produce sustainable consumer products that contribute to the quality of life for current and future generations.
    COLIPI won second prize in the “Renewable Material of the Year 2023” competition.

    Publication date: 28/02/2024

    Author: Marion Kupfer

    Bio-based News


    This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.