BR Interview | Tivadar Runtag, CEO Chimcomplex: Sustainability as a guiding principle

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 19/11/2021 | 10:05

For Chimcomplex CEO Tivadar Runtag, sustainable development is a mission, not a source of income. However, he tells Business Review that he is aware that it must also be economically attractive. His company’s goal around sustainability is to be recognised for innovative solutions, processes, applications, and for a focus on environmental protection.

By Anda Sebesi

 

How can the chemical industry apply the concept of sustainability and what are its implications?

It is clear today that activities that harm the environment cannot be successful in the long run. The common practice is to interpret sustainability in its narrow ecological sense, but for us in the chemical industry it means much more than that. Yes, we have to increase energy efficiency, reduce the use of fossil fuels, and minimise waste. But additionally, as President of the Romanian Chemical Producers’ and Distributors’ Association (APDCR), I can tell you that the chemical industry is the only industry that can be an integral part of the circle. Through chemical recycling, the collected waste can be “broken down” into molecules and re-built into new materials. So, for us, the concept of sustainability is an ecological commitment, a business imperative, and an exciting challenge.

 

In what ways is sustainability an opportunity for the circular economy?

The European Green Deal is based on three key commitments: climate neutrality, zero pollution, and the circular economy, which simply means collecting products at the end of their lifecycles and using them as feedstock in a new process. With this, we can reduce the demand for limited raw materials and utilities, and at the same time we reduce the amount of polluting waste. The circular economy is no longer science fiction. There are many new technologies and developments, several of which have already been applied, either in test mode or at full scale. But such technologies are not cheap. They must be applied along the entire value-chain and are mostly beyond the capabilities of any single company. Therefore, sustainability goals set by politicians must be coupled with commitments by governments to allocate investment funds.

 

We know that waste collection, as a part of the circular economy, requires large investments. What can you tell us about the role central funds play in this process?

Waste is at the end of a linear economy – and in the middle of a circular one. Selective waste collection is a decision that requires not just money, but also good will and proper planning. Cleaning up our surroundings costs a lot more than keeping it clean to begin with. Central funds have an important role in stimulating the circular economy. Dedicated funds raise the attention of governments, companies, and entrepreneurs. When they make decisions about strategic investments, the availability of special “sustainability” aid, loans can push them towards choosing ecological solutions. For me personally, sustainable development is a mission, not a source of income – but I am well aware that it must also be economically attractive.

 

What does Chimcomplex intend to do in order to access such funds?

Chimcomplex is in a unique position to build its Green Strategy. Financially strong, with a long tradition in chemistry (the foundation of chem-cycling), and an enthusiastic team. We have drawn up a very exciting scheme of “renewable energy + recycled raw materials + zero pollution technology = green products.” At this moment, we are working on the technical and economic details, which will be presented as part of our strategy to relevant stakeholders in Romania and the EU. Most of these developments are eligible for central funding, as they will result in increased energy efficiency and hydrogen production capacity, investments in a photovoltaic park, and chem-cycling of PET waste.

 

What is the company’s sustainability strategy?

Our aim is to be recognised for innovative solutions, processes, and applications and for our focus on environmental protection, as well to be a safe working place and a learning organisation. Investing in green technologies can help safeguard existing assets and the business value of our main products. For us sustainability is not an option, but our decided way to act.

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