Reducing the carbon footprint in cast PU elastomer manufacturing

Sustainability is the need of the hour. Manufacturers are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and increasingly use recycled or renewable raw materials as alternatives to fossil resources. The mass balance approach plays a vital role in substituting fossil resources in the production process.
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Sustainable approach uses renewable resources to balance the carbon content of the final product.

Let us rely on renewables. 

Cast polyurethane elastomers possess unique properties that make them ideal and versatile for a wide range of applications. These include industrial and mechanical parts as well as applications in agriculture, construction, cable protection, printing, packaging, material handling, wind energy, and many more industries, including sports and leisure. 

Reliability and durability are important attributes for any material used in an industrial setting. By virtue of their wide range of hardnesses and tunable flexibility, cast PU elastomers offer several advantages over other elastomers and are well-suited for demanding applications that require high quality and performance. 

Conventional manufacturing of cast PU products, however, comes at a high price and innovative solutions are required to reduce the carbon footprint. Using recycled or renewable raw materials and alternative feedstocks in existing production processes are crucial in this context. At Covestro, we work closely with our customers to develop technologies and products that benefit society and reduce the impact on the environment. 

In our aim to drive the cast PU elastomers and a more sustainable future, we have adopted the mass balance approach for enhanced sustainability. 

Life-cycle assessment: a valuable tool to measure the environmental impacts of cast PU production

Life-cycle assessment (LCA) measures the environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life cycle in accordance with international standards. This includes the production, use and recycling or final disposal of a product. 

In the case of cast PU products, LCA also includes the assessment of raw materials extraction and processing, whereby an inventory of the energy and materials required across the supply chain is taken into account to calculate the corresponding carbon emissions. This allows us to present an overall environmental profile and prepare an accurate carbon footprint. 

Organizations use LCAs to highlight potential for more efficient use of raw materials and energy and a reduction in the environmental impact of pollutant emissions and waste. They can serve as a basis for environmental comparisons, decisions and objectives.   

In this regard, LCA can also help manufacturers – during the design phase or for making environmental improvements of existing processes – in selecting materials and energy sources which have the potential to reduce the environmental impact. 

Covestro actively supports the industry, trade associations, partners and customers in performing life-cycle studies for a wide range of products. 

Mass balancing – for less dependency on fossil resources and for a better environment.

Making production fit for a more sustainable future – mass-balanced solutions for cast PU elastomers

Virtually all involved – manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers alike – have one goal: to reduce the environmental impact. We are all aware of the consequences of straying away from this goal and the benefits of succeeding in achieving it. 

At Covestro, our researchers, engineers, product developers, and innovators work tirelessly to enhance our expertise in material sciences, supply chains, alternative resources, and more sustainable solutions. 

Clearly, a transformation in the sourcing and use of raw materials is imperative if we are to become less dependent on fossil resources. A major step towards further reducing the impact on the environment is implementing alternative resources and solutions in existing production plants and processes. 

This includes feeding alternative raw materials into the production chain along with fossil-based raw materials at an early stage to ensure that the final product remains unchanged in terms of its chemical composition and properties. The resulting lower carbon footprint and contribution towards the circular economy are added benefits that surely no one can ignore. 

Alternative raw materials and conventional raw materials can either be processed separately, or they can be processed together and the alternative raw materials used are attributed to a specific product by means of mass balancing. 

At Covestro, we use the latter method. As raw materials sourced from both fossil-based and renewable feedstock are blended, ensuring material traceability and data verification across sites and the value chain is crucial. Consequently, guaranteeing and monitoring the bio-alternative content is vital. To accomplish this, Covestro opted in favor of the internationally recognized system for sustainability certification ISCC (“International Sustainability & Carbon Certification”) to document the use of the raw materials in a comprehensible and transparent manner. 

We certify our mass-balanced raw materials according to the ISCC PLUS certification system. Our aim is to convert all our production sites to this internationally recognized standard. As of now, three sites in Germany as well as our plants in Belgium and China are already certified. 

“Our customers benefit from the seamless integration of mass-balanced products into their existing production lines and processes. "

Aurélie Perrenot

Global Head of Application and R&D for Elastomers, Covestro

Drop-in solution: rapid implementation, higher efficiency, no changeover in existing processes

By delivering innovative and customized products and solutions to customers, Covestro is winning together with value chain partners to unlock an even greater potential of high performance and a more sustainable, cleaner future. Today, we are supplying a growing portfolio of products manufactured from alternative materials for a wide range of applications and industries. 

The optimization of processes and linking of production facilities ensure the efficient use of all materials. Besides, we can accelerate the transformation by scaling the quantities of alternative raw materials to match increasing customer requirements for mass-balanced products. 

Customers across various industries can process our mass-balanced products using the same processes and production lines as for their conventional counterparts. No new infrastructure and no changes to existing processes and lines are necessary. Manufacturers can enjoy the seamless integration of mass-balanced products into their existing systems. 

What’s more: apart from the positive impact on the environment, the properties of the finished product remain unchanged, thereby ensuring product and quality consistency. 

Furthermore, companies that adopt the mass-balanced approach take on a pioneering role and are in a position to exploit the potential for more ecofriendly   products. 

"The properties of the finished product remain unchanged and, consequently, so do product and quality consistency. More than anything, alternative raw materials and mass balancing have a positive impact on the environment."

Aurélie Perrenot

Global Head of Application and R&D for Elastomers, Covestro

Key benefits

  • Reduced emissions: Incorporating renewable, mass-balanced raw materials helps reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Increased visibility: Mass balance products showcase the manufacturer’s commitment to sustainability.
  • Drop-in solution: No technical modifications needed, seamless integration into existing processes.
  • Taking the lead: As pioneers, companies can tap into the potential for ecofriendly products.


Cast elastomers mass-balance brochure

Mass balance for greater sustainability

Mass balance – a reliable alternative for cutting carbon in high-performance cast PU elastomers.

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