March 5, 2018
Lanxess, the specialty chemicals company, has been honored with the 2017 German Innovation Award for Climate and the Environment. State Secretary at Ministry for Environment Jochen Flasbarth and Holger Lösch, Deputy Director General of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), presented the award to Luis López-Remón, head of the Lanxess business unit Leather in the course of a formal event in Berlin.
Lanxess received the award in the category “Environmentally-friendly products and services” for an innovative technology developed for the recycling of residues from the leather manufacturing process. Under the title “Resource-efficient production of leather chemicals” (ReeL), the specialty chemicals company collaborated with the research institute INVITE from Leverkusen on the realisation of a concept for a modular plant for the production of a retanning agent with the brand name “X-Biomer” from leather offcuts, trimmings and shavings, up until now generally a waste product for disposal, and plant-based biomass. The innovative plant can be operated on-site in tanneries.“
In this way, a tannery would be able to automatically and largely independently produce a part of its own needs for retanning agents like those offered by Lanxess in its X-Biomer range.
The three-year joint project with the partners INVITE GmbH and Heller-Leder GmbH & Co. KG has an investment volume totaling five million euros. The modular production plant constructed by INVITE is currently being tested under realistic production conditions at the Heller-Leder tannery.
The innovation project receives funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as a part of the “r+Impuls – innovative technologies for resource efficiency – impulses for industrial resource efficiency” initiative. This funding initiative provides support for projects that take innovative technologies and products out of the laboratory and make them commercially viable.
A medium sized tannery produces between one and two metric tons of shavings per day. With a production plant leased from Lanxess, the tannery would be able to produce a comparable volume of liquid X-Biomer for retanning. The process recycles shavings completely, without any residues or emissions. “The aim of the project is to enable us to offer tanners the X-Biomer product with a concept that is not only ecological, but also economically sustainable,” said Tegtmeyer. Higher production costs as a result of the concept should, for example, be offset by the reduction of logistics- and energy costs. “The aim now is to verify the concept model in a pilot phase. In any case, besides this, the project will serve the improvement of sustainability.”
The company’s products bring measurable benefits in terms of reduced emissions or a reduced carbon footprint, which ultimately makes a positive contribution to the prevention of global warming. Besides increased efficiency in production, finishing, and recycling, this achieves a more responsible handling of the raw material and waste products.