Kuraray Europe GmbH Sustainability Lighthouse projects and inititiatives

Kuraray‘s 3P model: Lighthouse projects and inititiatives

PLANET

Clustering in Frankfurt-Höchst

Better together

Kuraray Europe GmbH is one of many companies in the chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries located in the Frankfurt-Höchst Industrial Park. They are all dedicated to developing innovative solutions that save energy and raw materials, replace fossil fuels and make greater use of CO2 as a resource. Together with the site operator Infraserv Höchst, 14 companies, including Kuraray, Sanofi, Bayer and Celanese, have joined forces to pursue this path together. 

Process4Sustainability: Cluster for a climate-neutral process industry in Hesse“ is a project funded by the state of Hesse and the European Union. It aims to accelerate innovation processes and achieve climate neutrality at the Frankfurt-Höchst Industrial Park by 2045.

Process4Sustainability

Kuraray Europe GmbH, which operates two large production lines at the site, is a founding partner and active member of this initiative. With measures such as intelligent process control and heat integration in solvent recovery, Kuraray has already been able to significantly increase the efficiency of its production lines, especially in the area of energy consumption.

Joining the Renewable Carbon Initiative

Circular economy for plastics

Creating closed raw material cycles, particularly for plastics, is a challenge that can only be overcome together. As part of its sustainability strategy, Kuraray has therefore actively participated in the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) since 2023. The RCI is a network of companies that aims to promote the transition from fossil-based to sustainably sourced carbon in organic chemical products.

By 2050, all fossil carbon should be replaced by carbon from alternative sources. Key strategies to achieve this include the production of plastics from biomass, the consistent development and expansion of plastic recycling streams, and the direct use of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or from emission sources such as power plants.

Renewable Carbon Initiative

Heat recovery in Troisdorf

Good for the environment – and for the balance sheet!

Sustainable technology not only benefits the environment. It can also present significant cost advantages. Our site in Troisdorf is a good example of this. Here we produce films for laminated safety glass for the construction and automotive industries. The extrusion process requires repeated, energy-intensive heating and cooling. To address this, five heat pumps have been installed since late 2023. They are used for both heating and cooling. Natural gas-fired heating is now only needed to "jump start" the production line during the start-up process.

The new technology has reduced CO2 emissions by more than 50 percent, which is equivalent to around 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. This significantly reduces the CO2 footprint of the plants. At the same time, it results in energy cost savings in the high six-figure range. 

 

Cherry blossoms in front of production building

This is just one example of the measures to improve the site's energy efficiency, including plans to generate our own electricity using photovoltaic systems by 2025.


PRODUCT

SentryGlas® the top interlayer product

Strong, safe – and sustainable!

Architects and planners greatly appreciate SentryGlas®: this high-end product enables them to realize glazing projects where strength, safety and good looks are equally important. SentryGlas® is a strong interlayer in laminated safety glass and is distinguished by its very high residual load-bearing capacity. Even if both glass panels break, the construction remains stable thanks to the rigid interlayer. This is no surprise because SentryGlas® was originally developed to withstand the extreme stresses of a hurricane.

Today, SentryGlas® is used in the spectacular Skywalk at the Grand Canyon in the USA, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Shanghai Tower – in other words, wherever there are particularly high demands on glazing. SentryGlas is a hundred times stiffer and vie time stronger than conventional composite interlayers. 

Skyscraper with glass façade and balustrade

As well as enhancing safety, this exceptional properties enable much thinner constructions and thus help save considerable amounts of CO2 in energy-intensive glass production.

EVAL™ biocircular barrier resin

Highly functional and recyclable

Kuraray's high-barrier copolymer resin EVAL™ EVOH acts as an excellent gas barrier for film packaging of perishable foodstuffs. It also serves as an aroma preservative and an efficient barrier against organic solvents or potential contaminants that might be present in food cartons made of recycled corrugated board or post-consumer recycled plastics.

In addition to its superior functionality, the product helps to reduce environmental impact in several ways: Since only a thin layer of EVAL™ EVOH is required, it is easy to design packaging that uses fewer resources and weighs much less without losing its protective function. Multi-layer structures containing an EVAL™ EVOH layer can also be designed to be fully recyclable. At the end of their life cycle, they do not negatively impact recycling streams – assuming there is a waste collection and sorting system in place. 

International Sustainability & Carbon Certification

EVAL Europe, a Kuraray subsidiary in Antwerp, Belgium, has recently received ISCC-PLUS certification, enabling the market introduction of EVOH from renewable resources (biocircular EVOH).

PLANTIC-Technology

Bio-based barrier layer for paper packaging

Sustainable packaging is in trend and in everyone's interest: legislators and consumers alike are driving the topic forward, as are manufacturers and processors. The packaging market is currently undergoing rapid change. The ultimate goal is achieving a circular packaging economy.

Kuraray's PLANTIC™ barrier material provides an innovative solution. It enables completely bio-based packaging as well as repulpable and compostable paper packaging. PLANTIC™ was developed in collaboration with scientists to protect above all dry foods like pasta, baked goods, coffee or ready meals and extend their shelf life. The bio-polymer forms a film of thermoplastic starch with a high gas barrier effect, so the packaging preserves the aroma of the contents and effectively keeps out oxygen.

Paper packaging of coffee beans

Aside from its exceptional functionality and versatility, PLANTIC™ offers unbeatable ecological advantages. PLANTIC™ is made from 80 percent renewable raw materials and is also suitable for industrial and home composting.


PEOPLE

Social engagement

Doing good, together

Through our social commitment, we want to connect with people and make a meaningful impact. This benefits all sides: the many initiatives and projects we support because of their exemplary commitment to social, cultural and ecological causes and the people who are committed to doing good. It is important to us that our employees are actively involved.  

In addition to the numerous donations that we make as a company year after year, many of our employees also take part in the "Christmas in a shoe box" charity campaign, the Malteser Social Day or the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge – to give just a few examples. These are fun, promote a community spirit and help people in need. As a company and as a team, we genuinely stand up for our values and put them into practice.

Global mobility

Location change explicitly desired!

In today's interconnected world, gaining experience abroad is increasingly important for many companies, and this also holds true for us. The benefits are clear: the workforce becomes more diverse and people get to know each other better, different perspectives and new ideas provide a breath of fresh air and employees develop personally and professionally. These advantages do not only benefit the expats themselves; they also contribute to the overall success of our company. A pool of talented staff with global experience often enables us to meet our demand for skilled labour more flexibly, more quickly and from within our own ranks. 

It is for these reasons that Kuraray Europe encourages employees to take on foreign assignments and offers various models for this. In the interests of sustainable HR practice, we allow short-term assignments as well as medium and long-term assignments to another country for up to five years. 

Group of internationals sitting in front of a world map.

Additionally, hybrid assignments of up to 180 days per year are possible as part of global projects. Trainees can spend one to three months abroad to acquire intercultural skills and build up a global network. Throughout these assignments, our HR department provides comprehensive support, assisting with all matters before, during, and after the overseas stays.

Kuraray Innovation Days

Make way for good ideas

Actively helping to shape the future of the company - that is the focus of the "Kuraray Innovation Days". This event, which originated from the former European Future Days, aims to create a global forum for innovation. We invite all employees to take part, propose ideas and drive them forward together. The main focus is on cross-divisional projects that require expertise from different areas of the company. The Innovation Days specifically address topics that are not part of day-to-day business. Several initiatives and promising development projects have already emerged from the European Future Days and Innovation Days. Examples are a platform to promote innovations based on the "open innovation" concept and the development of business models for films in agriculture.

Group picture of workshop participants.

In general, at Kuraray we value employee feedback, which is why we conduct an annual global employee survey. Although Kuraray Europe is pleased with the high satisfaction ratings, we do not stop there: If there are areas where we can improve, we develop appropriate measures in a follow-up process.

Family and career

When life demands a lot

Work and career on the one hand, family and children on the other – combining it all can sometimes feel like trying to square a circle. We know this, which is why we, as an employer, do a lot to make life easier for our employees – particularly in times that are very demanding.

One way we support our employees is by offering long-term accounts, allowing them to accumulate time off and utilize it flexibly for paid leave – for example, for a sabbatical, to care for a relative or during parental leave. In addition to the statutory parental leave of 36 months, we grant up to twelve months of additional parental leave. If mothers or fathers work part-time during this year, they can work up to 80 percent from home. 

Child smiles holding his parents hands.

We also support the balance between family and career by helping find childcare places, paid time off (on a daily basis) in family emergencies and generous arrangements for mobile working, part-time work and unpaid leave to care for relatives.

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