Chemical industry on the pathway to renewable carbon

This summer the first survey on renewable carbon in the chemical industry was conducted. 20 to 25% of the carbon supply is already renewable

For years, the chemical industry has been successfully reducing the carbon footprint of their products by increasing efficiency and utilising renewable energy. The next phase towards a sustainable future begins by paying attention to the fossil carbon embedded in products, as it also contributes to the greenhouse effect once these products reach their end-of-life. The potential solution is the utilisation of the three available, alternative carbon sources biomass, direct CO2 utilisation, and recycling for products containing carbon. Summarised under the term “renewable carbon” these sources are the future of the organic chemistry and further downstream products such as plastic products.

Visuals, German version and PDF file available at

But how far is the chemical industry on its pathway to renewable carbon? To find out, this summer nova-Institute (Germany) and COWI (Denmark) conducted the first survey on the existing of renewable carbon in the chemical industry and sent a questionnaire to the 50 largest chemical companies producing in Europe. About 20% of the companies returned the completed questionnaire.

“What is the share of the different carbon sources in the total carbon use in your European production?”

The results of the survey clustered chemical companies by their branch and share of renewable carbon into the following four groups: