Lynk Insights Q&A with Knowledge Partner: Dr. Helmut Henneberger on Sustainable Chemicals and Pigment Sourcing

What led you to join the world’s leading specialty chemical producer?
I always wanted to work in an international environment with global responsibility, and I was always interested in learning about the development of alternative chemicals. Having joint Ciba, then onto Sandoz, and then, Clariant AG, through all of this, my focus has been strongly on polymer additive and organic pigments.

I spent my whole career working in the two industries of additives and pigments. I started in R&D of additives and developed new plastic additives and light stabilizers, and after a while I moved to the pigment industry, where I spent most  of my career. If you ask why do I find these two industries so fascinating – simple reason is that I like colors and treatments. It is exciting to me to develop products that protect coatings and plastics against fading, oxidation or any form of deterioration.

What are innovations you foresee having the potential to be game-changing to the sustainable chemicals and raw materials markets?
One already current and future topic might be the mass manufacturing of bio-degradable plastics for household usage and one-time usage. At the moment, there are a lot of up and coming bio-degradable cutlery and lunch boxes we see being used commercially – this would definitely expand into more household items.

Another big topic will be the further development of natural cosmetics, which also can be seen with organic makeup hitting mass market. The cosmetics market is not generally very price sensitive, and hence  the opportunity to capitalise on this market into more green products could be very game-changing.

How do you best suggest optimisation of raw material sourcing?
● Develop a Sourcing Strategy covering
● Market size and market dynamics
● Key manufacturers and suppliers
● Main application/usage of RM; which industries?
● Global market demand
● Knowledge of the value chain
● Identification of cost drivers and product chains

Is Sustainability in the chemicals industry simply a trend?
● No, many big companies continue to include sustainability targets in their business plans:

 – many companies have set targets to increase usage of bio-based raw materials

– many customers ask for the carbon footprint of the products they are sourcing

– ‘Country of Origin’ of raw materials used are required to be disclosed more and more these days

● Few years ago, the initiative of Together for Sustainability (TfS) was created by leading chemical companies:

– Suppliers are requested to do a self-assessment, after which based on their input they receive a rating, which is accessible to all TfS members

– An audit by an independent organization (Ecovadis) whose result will be shared amongst TfS members

– As a result, all TfS members have a list of reliable and good suppliers which they may use for purchasing products

What are your thoughts on the Knowledge-as-a-Service economy?
I think that this is a growing business of its own industry, which is a more openly accepted type of service now. To ask consultants is a fast and cost-effective method for companies to get an input that is relevant to the market, and not clouded by internal company politics nor the tendency to lean towards certain perspectives of knowledge only I think this is a fast and simple way of business to tap into wider expertise in new business fields. It will undeniably help companies of all sizes to make better decisions by obtaining on-demand quality knowledge, not just large companies with plentiful resources.

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