At Avantium, sustainability is built into our very purpose. It drives our employees, informs our technology development and excites our commercial partners. Every technology we develop affirms our commitment to helping create a fossil-free future for the planet.
The global climate breakdown demands an entirely new way of doing business, moving the world from its dependence on fossil-based resources towards a more sustainable future.
Avantium is focused specifically on accelerating that transition. In the Sustainability Manifesto, Avantuim lays out a pathway to achieving this mission. It sets out our approach to environmental best practice, social justice and transparency, as well as a roadmap of future activities.
Our approach to sustainability will be governed by the following principles. These are our ‘Golden Sustainability Rules’, placing our work towards a fossil-free world at the forefront of everything we do.
Managing environmental footprint
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is fundamental to understanding how Avantium’s technologies compete with fossil-based alternatives, as well as the potential sustainability benefits of our technologies. If you consider the source – plants instead of oil-, internal calculations show that the CO2 equivalent of our technologies is significantly lower than the CO2 equivalent of fossil-based alternatives. Those calculations will be validated by independent Life Cycle Analyses (LCA).
Avantium has conducted an initial Global Warming Potential (GWP) evaluation of the YXY process in collaboration with the Copernicus Institute at the University of Utrecht (Eerhart et al. 2012). A broader LCA, taking into consideration various PEF based applications and additional sustainability denominators, is currently performed by the German-based nova-Institut.
Avantium is working with the German firm Thinkstep (a Sphera company) to evaluate the sustainability of Ray Technology.
Team for GREEN
We also examine how we use resources at our buildings and facilities and look for ways to improve this. ‘Team for Green’ is a group of Avantium employees, drawn from across the company, who drive ‘bottom up’ environmental initiatives to enhance sustainability implementation at our company’s headquarters in Amsterdam. Recent initiatives include improved policies and practices on waste and recycling, drinking water use, as well as making recommendations on greater access for bicycles and the use of green energy to power the building.
Promoting greener employee travel
Under our Avantium Mobility Plan, we encourage the use of public transport wherever possible. Employees choosing to travel by public transport receive an NS Business chip card which may be used for all work and personal transport across the Netherlands, including train, metro, tram and bus travel, as well as use of the OV bike system.
We take care of each other
In Avantium, we are working to enrich our knowledge and understanding and to change our behavior. Therefore, we will immerse ourselves in a new safety theme every three months. A few examples of the quarterly safety themes that we have had so far:
- Giving and accepting feedback
- The acknowledgement and recognition of unsafe situations
- Electrical awareness
Safety is our highest priority in everything that we do. All Avantium employees committed to a list of so-called Golden Safety Rules. These rules remind us every single day that we take safety very serious in Avantium. We have implemented our Golden Safety Rules, we have procedures, we have good safety systems in place, but we all know that it requires continuous attention and awareness (behavior & culture) to make sure that we operate in a safe manner.
Golden safety rules
We are responsible of our own safety and that of others
We give and accept feedback, we ask when in doubt
We learn from our mistakes and those of others
We take the time to work in a safe way
We make sure our work area is clean and tidy
We use the right protective equipment
We assure immediate containment of unsafe situations
We report every unsafe situation
Avantium uses its scientific expertise to excite the next generation about sustainability and renewable chemistry. Several PhD students are working on their theses at Avantium, whilst contributing to the development of our technologies. Furthermore, Avantium has hosted multiple programs and lab tours for children and high school students to teach them how renewable chemistry can contribute to a more sustainable future. We have held an open ‘Weekend of Science’ to attract young students’ attention to the opportunity innovation will play in the journey to a fossil-free world.
Avantium produced a digital lesson which chemistry teachers can integrate in their chemistry lessons for 4-5 HAVO or 5-6 VWO classes. With this digital lesson, high school students can get acquainted with renewable chemistry and Avantium’s research into biodegradable and biobased materials. High school students are invited to experience how they can contribute to a sustainable world. We invite students to make a real contribution to Avantium’s research into the biodegradability of materials by conducting experiments with biodegradation. And at the same time we teach them how to conduct reliable, accurate and valid research. They can send in their research results to Avantium via the link.
Lecture: making plastic
The majority of plastic is made from fossil resources. In this video chemist Bert Weckhuysen (Utrecht University) shows how polyesters are made. He also explains whether it would be possible to make plastics from natural materials, and why it is a very bad idea if all these new plastics are biodegradable!