IHS Chemical Week


All Components are Not Created Equal

2:01 PM MST | March 4, 2011 | By MICHAEL STUBBLEFIELD

This is the second in a series of posts from Celanese on linking sustainability to your business operations. To read Celanese senior v.p. Jim Alder's take on sustainability and budgeting, click here.

On a visit with an auto manufacturing customer a few years ago, I asked him what he would like to change about his cars. He said he would love to have components to build cars that are safer for drivers and lighter weight to decrease emissions. Oh, and they should also be less expensive than what we use today. After I got over the initial reaction to such a tall order, I said, “Great idea. We’ll get to work on that.”

And why couldn’t we? Celanese already had processes in place to produce more of our own products faster in safer and more environmentally friendly ways. Heck, we’re saving $200 million per year in sustainable energy and waste productivity, so there’s no reason we couldn’t help our customers achieve their goals. Whether companies produce components for toys, dishwashers, jets or electronics, we can all ask our customers this same question – especially if the answers can help add momentum to sustainability efforts.

Celanese makes sustainability a strategic and worthwhile effort because it creates value for all of our stakeholders – from employees to customers to shareholders. Sustainability, which at Celanese includes safety, integrity and responsibility, isn’t just a priority, but the foundation on which all other priorities are based – including product development. Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

•    High-performance plastics are as close as your kitchen. Microwave-oven combinations, espresso machines and other appliances using high heat are safer to touch with today’s plastics. The food in your kitchen also has likely encountered high-performance plastics since the food industry has replaced metal in mixers, cutters and conveyor belts it uses to prepare food.

•    We’re all addicted to our electronics. At the same time, energy costs are increasing and consumers are becoming more aware of carbon consumption and hazardous materials, so Celanese scientists developed new polymers designers and engineers use in electronics that require intensely engineered, highly specified plastics. For example, Sony uses a halogen-free Celanese product to manufacture more eco-friendly circuit boards for its electronics. The company recognized Celanese with its Sony Green Certification as a result.

•    In vehicles, new thermoplastics replace metallics used in everything from automotive instrument panels to dashboards. Components that are 60 to 70 percent lighter reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and increase both mileage and safety. While we’re on thermoplastics in vehicles, their lighter weight makes hybrid and electric vehicles even more viable.

Each of these examples has helped our customers as well as the world’s consumers. Each also has long-term positive impact on the environment and our bottom line. The challenge for all of us manufacturers is to also include the products we manufacture in long-term environmental goals. Yes, this may be aggressive and stretch organizations, but it’s up to us to provide the products that manufacturers worldwide can use to develop the mechanical and electronic devices, toys, appliances and any number of products consumers use every day.

Michael Stubblefield is general manager of Ticona, the engineering polymers business of Celanese. For more information, visit www.celanese.com or www.ticona.com.

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