Progressive climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. SCHOTT AG, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty glass, is facing up to this challenge that affects society as a whole and has therefore anchored the goal of climate neutrality in its new Group Strategy. SCHOTT wants to become a climate-neutral company by 2030. Sustainability Manager Anja Schlosser coordinates the “Zero Carbon” program.
Climate neutral by 2030 – that’s a very ambitious goal for an energy-intensive company with annual emissions of one million tons of CO2. How did you come up with this time target?
We have no time to lose when it comes to climate protection if we want to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, as climate experts are vehemently calling for. As an energy-intensive industrial company, we must and in fact, want to make an active contribution to this. We have decided to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 in those areas that we can influence by ourselves. We are aware that this goal is ambitious and will require our full commitment.
What role has this topic played at SCHOTT so far?
Energy efficiency and the related reduction of CO2 emissions is a topic that has occupied us for decades. In view of constantly rising energy costs, we are faced with the challenge of continuously reducing our high energy requirements, not least for business reasons. The social responsibility that our company founders already committed us to is yet another reason. This is why SCHOTT declared environmental protection an important company goal as early as 1987. And with the introduction of the so-called oxyfuel technology, in which the natural gas used to fire our glass melting tanks is burned with oxygen instead of air, we have already managed to reduce our specific CO2 emissions by 30 percent.
What measures do you now intend to implement in order to achieve the goal of climate neutrality?
Generally speaking, we want to avoid, reduce, and compensate for CO2 emissions. For this purpose, we have defined an action plan with four fields of action: Technological Change, Energy Efficiency, Green Power, and Compensation. In the area of Technological Change, we see potential solutions primarily in increased electrification of melting tank heating and in hydrogen technology. In Energy Efficiency, we want to do even better than before. We intend to eliminate CO2 emissions completely from our electricity purchases in the near future by using green electricity certificates and long-term supply contracts, so-called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). We want to compensate for technologically unavoidable emissions by investing in reforestation projects, for example.
What approach are you taking with the technology transfer you are aiming for? How would you describe this in concrete terms?
This will initially involve researching and developing new technologies. Here, the abovementioned solution approaches have to be checked first for their feasibility and then the technological maturity level has to be systematically developed by corresponding projects. Of course, we always have to keep an eye on how new technologies affect the production process and glass quality. The second aspect is the operating units. Each Business Unit and each production site worldwide will develop an individual roadmap to climate-friendly production. Here, of course, cost-effectiveness is an important consideration.
If you take a look ahead to the year 2030 today, where do you see SCHOTT then?
We have embarked on the path toward climate neutrality, but we do not know all of the solutions yet. One thing is certain: we will not be able to produce CO2-free in 2030 because the development of new technologies and their large-scale introduction into production takes time and requires high investments. The CO2 emissions which can’t be avoided technologically in 2030, will be fully offset by a sustainable compensation portfolio.
Article courtesy of SCHOTT
Author: Anja Schlosser studied civil engineering (Bauingenieurwesen) at the Technical University of Darmstadt. After graduating, she worked as a technical department head at the Darmstadt Regional Council, where she focused on municipal waste management, waste disposal facilities, remediation of contaminated sites, and soil as well as groundwater protection. As a consulting engineer on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, her focus was on strategic support for internationally funded decommissioning projects such as those at Chernobyl. She started working in the field of quality management for SCHOTT Solar back 2010 and managed the successor organization. She has been coordinating the “Zero Carbon” program of the SCHOTT Group as Sustainability Manager since October 2020.