Charting the future of sustainable coatings: Exclusive interview with to Jinqi Li from Covestro
Covestro has taken a significant step towards sustainability with its latest polyurethane dispersion (PUD) facility in Shanghai, China. Set to launch in 2024, this plant will produce water-borne PUDs that match the performance of solvent-based products. It’s a response to the growing demand for environmentally compatible coatings and adhesives across various industries. The modular design and focus on bio-based materials highlight Covestro’s commitment to sustainability. With 25% alternative raw materials, they’re reducing the carbon footprint of their products. This initiative aligns with Covestro’s broader sustainability mission, echoing in the eco-friendly practices at the Covestro Integrated Site Shanghai (CISS), setting a strong example for green production. Covestro’s new PUD plant is a leap toward eco-friendliness in Asia-Pacific, offering high-performance, sustainable solutions. Contributing author Chiara Foppa Pedretti spoke to Jinqi Li, Head of Application Development APAC at Covestro.
How has demand in the Asia-Pacific region shifted to more sustainable solutions?
Jinqi Li: Water-borne systems will grow stronger than solvent-based systems. The global growth rate ranges from 4 % to 6 %. China is of course supposed to grow faster than that, both for the local market and for the export market. We do see a strong pull towards water-borne systems in the automotive industry, the consumer electronics industry, and the packaging and print industry. The demand for sustainable technology is steadily growing and has greatly accelerated the shift away from solvent-borne coatings and adhesives to 100 % solids and water-borne systems. We are continuously developing innovative PUDs to complement our range of water-borne products based on a variety of chemistries – polyurethane, polyacrylate, and polyester water-borne dispersions – for an innovative and eco-friendly platform.
Why is circularity a focus area?
Li: Renewable feedstocks offer opportunities for developing more sustainable building blocks for coatings and adhesives – with significant potential for reducing the carbon footprint of end products while also reducing our overall dependence on fossil-based resources. But to make more sustainable solutions not just possible but also economically feasible, the performance of all our feedstocks needs to satisfy high industry standards. To this end, we are evaluating the use of renewable raw materials and will enlarge our product portfolio with new bio-based and mid-to-long-term cost-competitive products, provided the raw materials become commercially available. In all these efforts, we are committed to focusing on products that perform at least as well as established products but are at the same time more sustainable.
Are there any further plans to expand in APAC?
Li: The new PUD plant is an investment in the future and part of our commitment to strengthen our Solutions & Specialties business. It will allow us to grow with our customers throughout the years to come. It will also give us even more flexibility to innovate and produce new products locally because, using our local PUD plants and scale-up unit network, we can develop our offer via smaller batches towards large batches. All in all, we are well-positioned to capture the growth opportunities of water-borne systems in the APAC region.