Filter the initiatives

People Education

Paving the way for a new training centre for the life sciences industry

essenscia has initiated a feasibility study for the realisation of a specialised training centre for the life sciences industry in Flanders. The Flemish region has a world-class expertise in R&D, manufacturing, logistics and export of biopharmaceutical products. In order to strengthen its competitiveness on an international level the sector requires highly skilled professionals on a permanent basis. Therefore, a training centre with state-of-the art infrastructure and modern training facilities could prove to be an additional advantage for the pharmaceutical and biotech companies in Flanders.

The feasibility study was financially supported by Co-valent, the training fund of the sector, and was conducted in close collaboration with numerous experts from Alcon-Novartis, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Pfizer and Sanofi. This ensures that the study is aligned to maximum extent with the existing needs in the sector. In the next phase, a detailed business case will be developed in co-operation with several stakeholders in education, government administration and the industry. The results of the feasibility study were presented to the sector in October 2017.

Planet Transport and logistics

Air liquide invests in a 35km extension of its oxygen network

Air Liquide is a world leader in the production of industrial gases. The most sustainable mode of transport for these gases is through pipelines, and the 4,700km pipeline network which Air Liquide is using to supply its industrial customers in Europe is already the world’s largest. To support the growth of ArcelorMittal’s needs in Ghent, Air Liquide will invest in a further 35km extension of its oxygen pipeline network.

The ArcelorMittal site in Ghent manufactures high value-added steels for automotive, construction, packaging and other industrial applications. Oxygen, nitrogen and argon are required for many of these applications, ranging from enriching the air in blast furnaces to steel production processes.

ArcelorMittal plans to continue increasing its flat carbon steel production at this site, which means additional oxygen requirements for blast furnaces and oxygen converters (*).

The oxycombustion process (injecting oxygen instead of air) improves the performance of the furnaces and reduces the smoke emissions and NOx production.

By connecting customers which require very large volumes of gas to the pipeline network, Air Liquide drastically reduces traffic density, CO2 and fine particles emissions, and noise pollution linked to road transport, and thus contributes to meeting tomorrow’s challenges such as mobility, climate and health.

Air Liquide’s pipeline systems, which are connected to several air separation units in the Benelux, also ensure the reliability, performance and flexibility of supply required by ArcelorMittal.

(*) Furnaces used as a chemical reactor for refining molten metals


Planet Energy consumption

Saving energy at Covestro

Covestro’s Antwerp site is an important producer of base chemicals for the plastics industry. An uninterrupted supply of electricity and energy in the form of steam is crucial for the company. Covestro heavily invested in 2015 and 2016 in the renovation of its steam production, by constructing state-of-the-art high pressure steam boilers and realising a cogeneration unit in cooperation with Engie-Electrabel. Thanks to this installation, Covestro is saving 24,000 tons of CO2 and 500 TJ of primary energy a year, a reduction of more than 12% for the Antwerp site.


People Employee qualifications

Co-valent is successfully engaging with growing numbers of young people


Through the web portal and the corresponding Facebook page, Co-valent is successfully engaging with growing numbers of young people on topics and facts about chemistry, plastics and life sciences. Light and amusing posts on Facebook as well as longer articles on the website connect the industry with the world inhabited by young people today, making chemistry – and science in general – accessible and trendy. This successful project fits perfectly with the objectives of the government’s STEM action plan.

Several changes to the website and ways of posting items on Facebook have resulted in an increase in the number of followers on Facebook to 3,400 youngsters and a 42% increase in visits to the website since January 2015. Girls accounts for 37% of Facebook followers and website users and boys 63%, 51% are Dutch-speaking and 37% French-speaking, and most are aged between 12 and 24 years.

By partnering with organisations with strong connections to the world of schools and teachers, Breaking Science has become better known among students. Facebook posts by industrial partners addressed to young people (Talentenfabriek, essenscia, HaaiTech!…) are being shared and thus reach large numbers of followers. The most-visited website page is the one which explains different professions within the industry.


People Process safety

More investments for more safety

The Seveso Fund has been drastically reformed and has invested more than €8 million in 2017 in a number of ambitious projects to increase safety around Seveso companies and to optimise risk management. All this was announced at the first Seveso Forum, a unique seminar set up by essenscia – which participates in the fund’s management committee – in close cooperation with the FPS Home Affairs.

The European Seveso directive imposes strict safety and protective measures on industrial facilities working with dangerous substances. The main objective is to avoid severe accidents and, if an accident does occur, to limit the consequences as much as possible. In Belgium, there are about 380 Seveso facilities, of which about 200 are so-called ‘high-tier’ facilities, particularly in the chemicals sector.

These companies pay an annual fee to the Seveso Fund to finance dedicated safety projects such as the BE-alert alarm system, the federal safety portal ICMS (Incident & Crisis Management System), the Campus Vesta training centre, the purchase of specialised intervention materials for fire brigades and civil protection services, the organisation of disaster exercises etc.


Products securing food supply

Advachem: diversifying from glues to fertilisers

Advachem, based in Hautrage in Hainaut, was originally a producer of glues and resins for the production of wood panels, but recently started exploiting a new market segment: nitrogen-free fertilisers. This began in 2012 as a research and development project, but Clean Fertilizer was commercialised rapidly, allowing the company to diversify into markets radically different from its traditional activities.

The nitrogen-free fertiliser is used in both agriculture and horticulture. It needs to be sprayed on the plants, but without the risk of scorching. It has no environmental impact and therefore does not contaminate the soil water. Depending on the type of crops and when the product is applied, the fertilizer can increase the yield of corn crops by 10% while also increasing the protein content by about 9%. The yield from the cultivation of potatoes can also be increased by about 10%.


Prosperity Innovations

Galactic : From acid lactic to renewable PLA

Prosperity Innovations

Sector creates Innovation Fund to invest in promising start-up

Since its creation, the Innovation Circle has supported more than 30 projects, of which some are mature and require capital for their development. To meet this need, the Innovation Fund was set up in 2015 to invest in innovative start-ups and companies active in the field of chemistry and life sciences.

The Fund has a starting capital of 13 billion euro and will last for 12 years, with the capital coming from companies in the sector (such as Total, Solvay, BASF, Sioen, Recticel and Soudal), and from public and private financial institutions. Investments focus on material sciences, process technology, cosmetics and hygiene, bio-sciences and recycling.

Through the Innovation Fund, essenscia and François Cornelis have created a one-stop shop for creative and innovative companies in the Belgian chemistry sector.

Planet Energy consumption

First Antwerp Port Community sustainability award goes to ambitious ECLUSE project

The ECLUSE project, which is working to move the energy supply of several large-scale chemical companies in the Waasland Port from natural gas to a heat network, won the very first Sustainability Award given by the Antwerp Port Community in November 2016. This award recognises projects that contribute to the transition towards a sustainable port, and the ECLUSE project won by a large margin, in both the jury and public votes.

When the heat network reaches full capacity, Ecluse will be one of the largest industrial heat clusters in Europe, responsible for the production of no less than 10% of the total green heat generated in Flanders, thus making a significant contribution to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The energy for the network is produced in the waste-to-energy plant of waste management companies INDAVER and SLECO, where six waste incinerators produce steam with a total capacity of approximately 250 MW. This steam is converted to electricity in steam turbines. Once the steam network is operational, the steam will be delivered directly to neighbouring industries through a 5km pipeline, contributing to much greater energy efficiency and to anchoring the chemicals industry in this region. The companies involved will no longer have to depend on their own in-house gas boilers for producing the steam they need. Decommissioning the individual boilers will result in CO2 emission reductions of 100,000 tonnes per year, which is comparable to the annual CO2 savings from 50 standard 2.3MW wind turbines. To enable future growth, the network has been designed for a higher capacity, so that it can expand to deliver reduced emissions of 200,000 tons of CO2 (equivalent to 100 wind turbines).

Five companies from Waasland Port have signed up to purchase steam from ECLUSE for ten years: ADPO, a logistics partner to the chemical industry; chemicals producer Ashland; Monument Chemical; INEOS Phenol; and rubber and plastics producer LANXESS. The condensate pipeline will also heat the buildings of a sixth company, DP World-Antwerp Gateway, on the return journey. Once completed, the network will have the capacity to meet double the current heat demand. As a result of this future-proofing, ECLUSE will be ready to cater for increased future heat requirements of the six original companies and other companies will also be able to join the steam network later.


AbbVie Recognised as One of the Best Workplaces in Europe by Great Place to Work®

In 2016, Great Place to Work® ranked AbbVie No.8 in the list of the 100 Best Workplaces in Europe.
“AbbVie is honored to be recognized once again by the Great Place to Work Institute,” said its Human Resources Director Pilar Marquez y Gaspar. “This recognition is a testament to our culture, our commitment to our employees and the patients we serve.”

AbbVie’s high ranking is a tribute to its continued progress and achievements in creating a workplace environment that fosters innovation, personal development and collaboration. It is a place where employees trust their leaders, take pride in their work and are enabled to have a remarkable impact on patients’ lives.

Great Place to Work® selected AbbVie as a top 100 Best Workplace in Europe out of more than 2,300 eligible companies in 19 countries based on a robust analysis of their organizational practices and feedback that employees provided as part of a Trust Index© survey process.

Additionally, AbbVie has been recognised as a great place to work in 15 out of the 19 listed countries, including Belgium – for the third time in a row- , Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

“Our ambition to make a difference in the quality of life of our patients can only be reached thanks to our motivated employees. For us, being part of the AbbVie community is more than a job. Thanks to the internationally acclaimed quality label of Great Place to Work we further strengthen our employer brand, benchmarked with the best in the world”, says Thibault Massart, GM of AbbVie BeLux. It indicates a consistent approach throughout the company in creating highly regarded workplaces across borders and in local cultures.

People Process safety

Covestro: Embracing digital transformation for process improvements

People Anti-trust and anti-corruption compliance

Training by essenscia’s social policy department: an overview

The social policy department of essenscia regularly organises training courses to support its members. Info-sessions included topics such as:

  • An account of the bi-annual negotiations of the sectoral collective labour agreements after they have been completed every two years, accompanied by comments on the legal framework, the inter-professional negotiations, and some practical tips and advice for the negotiations at company level.
  • An overview of the most important changes and modifications in labour law of the current year presented in December every year.
  • A cycle of five info-sessions organised every four years to prepare companies effectively to deal with the intricate procedure of social partner elections. This includes practical advice for presidents and secretaries of polling stations, and all the information and advice they need to put their new consultative bodies (works council, SHE Committee and union delegation) into place.
  • Dedicated sessions on specific topics (e.g. bridging pensions, time credits, winding down, end of career jobs, etc.) as and when appropriate (and based on new developments).

In addition to these collective info-sessions open to all members, the social policy department also organises on site or in-house training for those members expressing a particular need. The objective of this type of training is to make first-line managers without a human resources background aware of the proper functioning of the consultative bodies and the rights and obligations of the worker representatives in this context.

People Employment

Informing students on best study choice for a successful career


essenscia wallonie/brussels works closely with the Information Service on Studies and Jobs (SIEP) in French-speaking Belgium to inform students about the numerous career opportunities in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector.

Together, they produced and distributed a brochure describing jobs in the chemicals and pharma industry

essenscia wallonie also participated in the SIEP Job and Study fairs in Namur in 2017, where more more than 12,000 students came to seek careers advice from essenscia employment experts and to take part in practical workshops. They also had an opportunity to enjoy some fun experiences organised by Sciences Adventure, which works to attract young people to study STEM subjects, and to visit the Plastimobile  to find out more about the great careers offered by the plastics industry.


People Age pyramid

Miko Pac: Humans and robots working together on the factory floor

People Diversity

Plasma industries: diversity to drive success


Diversity is central to the success of Plasma Industries Belgium, which is active in blood plasma fractionation. The company isolates proteins with high technology processes for its clients around the world. The intermediate products it makes are used by Plasma Industries’ partners to produce medicines for different kinds of diseases related to blood issues.


The company employs people of more than 20 different nationalities from all over the world. Diversity is a living concept in the company’s daily work, with all staff required to sign a “diversity charter” by which they agreed to work with each other showing team spirit, respect, acceptance and responsibility.


A diversity group has also been created and meets every three months to develop projects addressing a range of issues, from employing people with disabilities to finding new challenges and opportunities for employees over 55, cleanliness in the cafeteria, IT knowledge and many more. Moreover, the company offers intensive language training to its non-native French/Dutch-speaking staff to ensure successful communication and collaboration within our teams.

Gender balance is also a priority for Plasma Industries, with women accounting for over 25% of the workforce. The company is convinced that diversity is an integral part of its current and future success.


Planet Transport and logistics

Optimising transport at P&G

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has the goal to reduce truck transportation kilometers by 2020 by 20% per unit of production versus the 2010 baseline by improving vehicle fill rate, optimization of distribution routes and driving increased use of multi-modal transportation.

The pilot of the so-called ‘TINA’ project started in Belgium, switching from truck to intermodal transportation for all products produced in Belgium, going to the UK. This measure eliminated 5,000 transport trucks on the road and has re­duced CO2 emissions with 350 tons. The regional program exceeded the ini­tial target, reaching its 30% goal two years early in 2013.

Building further on the TINA project, P&G is now using Cargostream. Through the use of the Cargostream platform P&G aims to accelerate the use of intermodal rail networks across Europe through collaborating with manufacturing and transportation partners, not only amplifying the sustainability impact for P&G, but also for other companies in the region.

Planet Resource efficiency

New business models for a circular economy at Agfa

Agfa Graphics won both the European Award for Logistics excellence and the Belgian Supply Chain Award for its project “Sustainability through recycling via collaborative supply chain”. The project involves the supply of aluminum printing plates, which are vital to the offset printing industry. Agfa Graphics is a world-leading supplier of such plates, which represent more than 60% of its turnover.

With this project, Agfa Graphics and a number of partners in the printing plates supply chain presented a sustainable closed-loop solution to its high-volume customers, in which high-grade aluminum can be reused without any loss in value. The use of recycled printing plates in the plate production process reduces the total carbon footprint by 70%, provided the plates are sent back to the aluminum manufacturer after use on the printing presses. This closed-loop approach guarantees that the aluminum maintains as much of its intrinsic value as possible instead of being downcycled into lower quality products.


Products saving lives

GSK wins essenscia Innovation Award 2016 with vaccine against Herpes Zoster Virus (Zona)

Planet Biodiversity

Nagoya Protocol: what impact on Belgium’s innovative life sciences sector?

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources is an international agreement which aims to share the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. The protocol, which entered into force in October 2014, falls within the scope of the EU Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Regulation.

As stated in the European guidance document for the biotechnology sector, “all industries creating value by means of biotechnological processes or products are affected by the implementing provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Nagoya Protocol (NP), and its implementation in the EU (Regulation (EU) No 511/2014) respectively. There can be no single answer to the question as to how far individual sectors of the industry are affected. In particular, this will depend on the nature of their activities and their position within the industrial value creation chain. Nevertheless, the provisions of the EU ABS Regulation are applicable across these value creation chains and throughout value creation networks, and the specific conditions for utilization that are laid down in the EU ABS Regulation need to be satisfied.”

The ongoing implementation of this protocol in Belgium will have an impact on companies that use genetic resources and traditional knowledge related to genetic resources to develop their products. It will enter into force in Belgium in 2018, with responsibility for its implementation shared between federal and regional authorities. Constructive dialogue with the competent authorities and the federal National Focal Point may help to avoid a heavy burden being imposed on companies active in R&D and to support a federal “single standard approach” for all innovative sectors.

The protocol will not be implemented by all regions in exactly the same way. It will therefore be crucial to adopt a realistic approach in what is already a highly regulated industry. An industry working group has been set up by to support biopharma and pharma companies in the implementation process.


Products Sustainable use in the supply chain

Cleanright – safe and sustainable use of detergents

The detergent industry has launched a major information initiative to advise consumers on the safe and sustainable use of detergents.

It consists of a multilingual website with a wide range of useful information on detergents, cleaners and maintenance products for use in the home; information about what types of products to use for different tasks (such as cleaning surfaces, furniture and fabrics); how to obtain the best results from your products; information on ingredients; how to use products safely; and what to do in the event of an accident or misuse.

It also includes Safe Use icons, a sets of icons developed by the industry to provide advice to consumers, in a simple and direct manner, on how to use detergents safely. These icons are displayed on product packaging throughout Europe.

Today’s cleaning and maintenance products make our daily household tasks a lot easier, as do labour-saving electrical appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. But to avoid wasting resources or harming the environment, consumers must use their products and appliances responsibly. Research has revealed that between 50% -80% of overall carbon emissions related to cleaning products can occur during the use phase (e.g. when used in dishwashers or washing machines). For this reason, the website also gives tips on saving water, energy, CO2 and money using a set of easy-to-understand icons for laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, all-purpose cleaners and trigger spray cleaners.




Prosperity R&D expenses

Investing in a new global research centre at Jindal Films Europe

Jindal Films is a global leader in the development and manufacturing of specialty films for the flexible packaging and labelling markets. In 2017, this India-based company inaugurated its Global Technology Innovation Centre in Virton. This research centre has state-of-the-art equipment, including a pilot orientation line that provides unique capabilities for introducing new films. It enables Jindal Films to transition from being a supplier of biaxially oriented polypropylene film (BOPP) to a packaging solutions provider, opens up new opportunities, and demonstrates the company’s commitment to bringing innovation and sustainable solutions to the entire value chain. This investment of several million euro reinforces the strong R&D position of the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector in Belgium.


People Employment

An innovation camp to stimulate entrepreneurship


Students from high schools and universities gather at a castle in Namur and are given two days to come up with innovative solutions to solve challenges companies face in their daily business. This is the concept behind the Innovation Camp Chemistry and Life Sciences, an initiative launched by essenscia wallonie and Les Jeunes Entreprises with the support of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.

Last year, Quality Assistance, Realco, Total and UCB accompanied and coached 80 students during this marathon effort, which aims at stimulating the creativity and entrepreneurship of students and putting them in touch with chemical and pharmaceutical companies active in Wallonia and Brussels.

The Magaf and UCB team won the jury’s prize for their “Life + Bracelet”, a device imagined to improve the life of patients suffering from chronic disease. The bracelet would allow them to send a request for help to a database of volunteers located nearby. The proposed innovation integrates patients into society and brings them closer to their communities, while raising public awareness of people with chronic diseases.

The Innovation Chemistry and Life Sciences provides a great opportunity for companies to get in touch with students who could be their employees of the future.

People Employment

GSK wins the Randstad Award for the fourth time

In 2016, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) won the Randstad Award for the most attractive employer, after a survey of 15,000 people and 186 companies found that at least 51% of those who know of the company would like to work there.

With four life sciences companies in the top five (with Janssen Pharmaceutica ranked second, UCB fourth and Pfizer fifth), and seven chemicals, plastics and life sciences companies in the top fifteen, this clearly remains a remarkably attractive industry to work in. Cosmetics company Estée Lauder came in sixth, but is regarded as the most attractive employer for women. Other companies from the sector among the top 15 are Bayer (in 12th place) and BASF (in 13th).

“A competitive salary package is once again the most important building block for a company’s appeal as an employer,” said Jan Denys, labour market expert and the Randstad Group’s Director of Communications. “What is also interesting, although we shouldn’t exaggerate, is that for the first time in the history of the Randstad Award, a pleasant working atmosphere has come in second, before job security.”


Planet Water quality

Plant on a truck at Janssen Pharmaceutica site in Geel – Belgium

In May 2017, ‘Plant on a Truck’ was mobilised at Janssen Pharmaceutica’s chemical production site in Geel, Belgium. This is an innovative installation to treat process waters from the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients in a cost-effective and sustainable way. It owes its existence to creative collaboration among a Belgian stimulus programme (FISCH – now Catalisti), a local university, a cross- departmental team at the Janssen Geel site that loves a challenge, and InOpSys NV.

Zinc is used as a catalyst during the manufacturing process for a specific active compound. This metal is not consumed in the reaction and creates a hazardous process stream. In the past, this stream had to be incinerated offsite but from now on, thanks to ‘Plant on a Truck’, Janssen will be able to extract the zinc and have it recycled into metallic zinc by one of our project partners. The rest of the process stream can be treated at the water treatment plant on the Janssen site. Thus, the project closes two material loops: zinc and water.

‘Plant On A Truck’ is designed, delivered and operated by InOpSys, which can provide a total on-site sustainable capex-free process water treatment solution. This installation is also called a fully Flexible, Modular and Mobile Unit (FMMU) and is built in containers. The Flexible & Modular element makes it easy to add or exchange technologies for different process streams, and the Mobile element means that these movable units can be operated anywhere and any time.

Products securing food supply

Phytofar: the essentials of sustainable agriculture

Prosperity Innovations

Happy innovation with The Zinnovants

Planet GHG emissions

Renewable energy at Pfizer Puurs

Pfizer Puurs has invested heavily in renewable energy generation in recent years. Its cogeneration unit has been operational since 2008 and Pfizer also installed two wind turbines in 2011 and 2015. Thanks to these installations, more than half of the energy required for the Puurs site is generated in a sustainable way.

Planet Sustainable value chains

Agrirecover: introducing the circular economy in agriculture

Products saving natural resources

Rethinking detergents to save resources

The family-owned company Pollet, based in Tournai, specialises in the production of a variety of detergents for industrial applications. Over time, Pollets’ detergents have become increasingly environmental friendly and the company continues to invest in sustainability.

Pollet has now developed capsules which are completely recyclable and offer unique advantages in the terms of logistics and the environment, known as Cap’s. This a unique concept for refilling spray systems. The capsules contain 20ml of concentrated detergent and are screwed in a user-friendly way onto the dispenser filled with water. This avoids the user being exposed to the concentrated detergents and ensures the dosing is always optimal. The empty spray bottle does not need to be thrown away; it can be re-used by simply inserting a new capsule. The capsules also mean less packaging materials and less transport are required. Pollet has also developed a collection system so that Cap’s can be returned to the company for recycling. With this unique concept, Pollet covers the complete life cycle of the detergent.


Products CLP

Chemical companies and national Poison Centres working together

Despite the warnings on labels, incidents involving chemical products still occur both at home and in the workplace. The Belgian Poison Centre is available by telephone 24 hours a day, on the free number 070 245 245, to advise what to do in case of acute poisoning. Around half of the calls they receive relate to medicines, a quarter to chemical products, 6% to cosmetics, 5% to phytosanitary products and 4% to plants, animals and food.

It is obviously essential that the correct information is passed quickly from the chemicals sector to the Belgian Poison Centre. In 2016, 7,966 compositions were notified and 1,147 voluntary notifications were made.

Each time a chemical product is brought onto the Belgian market, the companies involved notify the Belgian Poison Centre of any hazardous characteristics. They do this, at the latest, 48 hours before the product reaches the market. This is a legal obligation that applies to mixtures with hazardous physical and health effects, pesticides and biocides. essenscia calls on its members to continue notifying voluntarily all mixtures which are hazardous for the environment and non-classified mixtures containing hazardous substances destined for consumers.

essenscia also cooperates with the Poison Centre on information campaigns on safe use of household and DIY chemicals.

Products securing food supply

RAK®, the BASF pheromones

A number of economically important pests play a key role in some wine-growing or pome fruit-producing regions, such as grape-berry and grape-vine moths in vineyards and codling moths and leaf rollers in pome fruit.

To improve the control of these pests, BASF Crop Protection has developed RAK® pheromone dispensers, which are used widely in grape and pome fruit production and are a major agricultural innovation.

RAK® works by releasing specific sex pheromones which disrupt mating by altering the signals sent by females indicating mating readiness. The males become disoriented and can no longer find the females, and thus mating decreases and, consequently, so too do infections of fruit by larvae. This reduces the pest population and provides improved protection in vineyards and orchards.

In Belgium, more than 50 % of the pome fruit area is treated with pheromones and makes optimized use of conventional insecticides possible. This is very important for integrated pest management (IPM) to develop production processes that meet the requirements of today’s consumers.


Planet Industrial waste

Transforming waste into material at Xtratherm

Xtratherm launched a state-of-the-art production and distribution facility in Feluy in 2015 which produces and distributes PIR (polyisocyanurate) insulation panels for the construction sector. Xtratherm strives to minimize the environmental impact of its production units as much as possible.

In the new production unit, the PIR powder generated in the cutting operation is collected by two partners companies in Germany. This cutting powder is compacted with an adhesive binder and transformed into briquettes, which are then further processed and used to make new products such as dashboards for vehicle, container or composite element construction, or slabstock for molded parts, segments, model-making or customized structures and constructions.

Polyurethane rigid foam is a high-performance insulating material, and can be used in special applications for long-term use at low temperatures (e.g. insulation of liquid gas transportation tanks) and up to high temperatures (e.g. insulation of superheated steam lines). Higher compressive strengths up to 5 MPa can also be realised using polyurethane products.


Prosperity Trade balance

World champion in chemicals, plastics and life sciences

Products saving water

The cleaning power of enzymes at work

In many industrial sectors, membrane filter installations are crucial in the production process. Examples includes the dairy industry, the production of beer and water treatment installation systems.

The biotech company Realco has developed a method based on the cleaning power of enzymes to extend the lifespan of the filters and increase the productivity of the installations. Cleaning the membrane filter installations requires special attention due to their complexity and the high cost of filters, and their efficiency can easily be reduced by blockages which lower the production throughput. Agressive detergents may cause wear, shortening the lifespan of the membranes. Hence careful maintenance is critical.

Realco developed a unique method to analyse the membrane installations. This patented technology, the Fouling Analysis Kit, allows easy detection of micro-organisms or bacteria in the membranes. It identifies dirt residues and determines the most suitable cleaning procedure depending on the complexity of the installation. Following this diagnosis, Realco puts together the right cocktail of enzymes to remove the organic or inorganic dirt or biofilms present on the filters.

These tailor-made solutions optimise the cleanliness of the installation and this innovative technology increases the lifespan of the filters and limits the duration and the frequency of filter maintenance, improving production rates and reducing water and energy consumption.



Planet Transport and logistics

L’Oreal: Logistics automatization

Products saving lives

Mithra Pharmaceuticals: A New Paradigm in Woman’s Health

Planet GHG emissions

EuroChem Antwerp: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in five years

EuroChem is a large producer of mineral fertilizers in the Port of Antwerp. Part of its production chain consists of three installations for producing nitric acid, in which ammonia is catalytically oxidized. A typical side-product of the production process is nitrous oxide (N2O), a very strong greenhouse gas (almost 300x stronger than CO2). Over the past five years, EuroChem has invested significantly in increasing the quantity of catalyzers in its reactors to eliminate nitrous oxide more effectively. These investments have delivered a reduction in annual CO2 emissions of more than 200,000 tons of CO2-equivalents.


Planet Resource efficiency

PVS pioneering in circular business models

PVS Chemicals Belgium is the only European plant of the American PVS Group, and specialises in the safe manufacture and supply of sulphur, chloride, amine and sodium-based inorganic chemicals in the Ghent harbour area. These products are used in a wide variety of industries, such as electronics, food & feed, fertilizers, graphical, pulp & paper, the (petro)chemicals sector, pharmaceuticals and water treatment.

PVS Chemicals Belgium was a pioneer in setting up circular economy business models, as it did with its strategic client Proviron in Ostend for the supply of highly-concentrated oleum, also known as smoking sulphuric acid or oversaturated sulphuric acid.  Oleum is highly corrosive and is 100% composed of sulphuric acid with SO3 gas dissolved in it. SO3 is a highly corrosive gas that is difficult to handle on its own.  For its production processes, Proviron needs SO3 which is extracted from the oleum liquid, leaving pure sulphuric acid, for which it has no use. PVS takes this pure sulphuric acid back, stores it in a dedicated tank and uses it again as a raw material, upgrading it again to highly-concentrated oleum. The circular economy loop is closed.

The ‘chemical leasing’ of oleum has the additional benefit that the bulk transport of oleum and the pure sulphuric acid is done using a dedicated tanker driving back and forth between Proviron and PVS, avoiding cleaning or flushing.  This saves cleaning water and ingredients, energy, waiting hours, raw materials, production time and money.


Planet Transport and logistics

Digitalising cleaning documents

For chemical companies, tank cleaning is a cornerstone of the logistics process for which safety, quality, operational efficiency and compliance need to be safeguarded. An important milestone was the introduction of the European Cleaning Document (ECD) back in 2005, developed by EFTCO (European Federation of Tank Cleaning Organizations) in collaboration with ECTA (European Chemical Transport Association) and CEFIC to satisfy the needs of cleaning stations, transport companies, chemical-, feed- and food-manufacturing companies and their customers.

Whilst this ECD was a giant leap forward, the current paper-based process no longer meets today’s challenges and expectations. Technological capabilities have also evolved significantly over the past decade, offering new opportunities. That is why ECTA, EFTCO and essenscia are launching a project aimed at the digitisation of the ECD document.

This can bring benefits in terms of Quality and Compliance, Responsible Care and Safety and Operational Excellence:

  • Quality and Compliance: Accurate and timely information-exchange between the tank cleaning, loading and customer delivery process requires seamless collaboration between all parties. Switching to a digital e-ECD form and related process will make these communications less error prone, more transparent and real time, resulting in a high-quality product and service to the end-customer.
  • Responsible Care and Safety: All stakeholders aim for greater safety and higher Responsible Care standards. Accurate product and cleaning information combined with people with the right skills and the appropriate technical installations are essential to guarantee a safe and sustainable cleaning process.
  • Operational excellence: Automating the capture of ECD information and digitalising its exchange will mean less manual work, faster site entrance and loading, less reworking and checks, and reduced waiting times. Shortening historical product blacklists leads to higher asset availability, which reduces costs and increases efficiency. Increased accessibility of data and an elevated trust level in the e-ECD information opens up opportunities for a spot check-driven process where companies with a positive track record and complete information can benefit from access to fast lanes.

The e-ECD project is split into two phases. The first, pilot, phase aims at demonstrating the digital e-ECD IT solution within a smaller process scope and limited geographical scope. This pilot phase will start at the end of 2017 and last for about six months. The second phase, rolling out the e-ECD solution to all European stakeholders, is foreseen for the second quarter of 2018 after a positive evaluation of the pilot project.


Prosperity Innovations

Capacity building in intellectual property through the Patents Cell

For innovative companies, protecting their intellectual property and realising its economic potential is crucial. To familiarise companies with the complex regulations on intellectual property (IP), essenscia offers support through its Patents Cell (Octrooicel), which was set up with the support of the Federal Public Service Economy.

The Patents Cell organises a series of informative workshops each year, with experts explaining IP-related issues relevant for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector. Subjects such as IP portfolio management, IP in open innovation projects, trademarks etc. are discussed and the experts’ views are supplemented with testimonials from companies in the sector.

Each year, the Patents Cell reaches around 120 innovation and research experts and lawyers, mostly from SMEs. Chemical companies can also contact it for advice on how to obtain and use intellectual property, and for information on innovative technologies and trends in the chemicals sector.

People Community engagements

24/7 sectorial support through Belintra

In 2015, essenscia and the federal authorities in Belgium reaffirmed their commitment to work together closely in the event of an accident involving the transport of dangerous products. A new Belintra (Belgian Incidents with Transport of hazardous substances) contract was signed by the Minister of Home Affairs and essenscia at BASF’s Antwerp site, one of the two Belintra coordination centres. The new contract includes updated communication strategies to deliver even faster and more efficient intervention in the event of an emergency.

The chemical industry has taken significant steps since 1998 to fulfil its responsibility to society in the event of an accident involving the transport of dangerous products. Authorities, fire brigades and civil protection services can call chemical industry experts 24/7, even if they are not involved in the incident. Through two national coordination centres – one at Solvay for emergency calls in French and one at BASF Antwerp for Dutch calls – Belintra brings together a network of specialists from about 40 companies who are able to share their knowledge and expertise about thousands of listed dangerous products.

Three levels of support are provided: (1) remote product information and general advice by telephone or fax; (2) advice from an expert at the scene of an incident; and (3) assistance with personnel/equipment at the scene of an incident. A European database keeps track of which companies can provide expertise or material for which products.

The support provided by Belintra is available for both roads and rail accidents, and is integrated in the European ICE (Intervention in Chemical transport Emergencies) system


People Diversity

Co-valent encouraging diversity

A diverse workforce, benefiting from equal education opportunities, is essential to address the lack of technical skills needed by the industry. Over the last two years, Co-valent has launched various initiatives to stimulate diversity:

  • Every year, national ‘Duoday’ is promoted and communicated to companies in the industry. This event gives people with handicaps the opportunity to work for one day in a company assisted by one of the firm’s employees. Through the website, companies can launch an integration process for an employee with a disability in collaboration with a specialized partner.
  • The e-learning-platform eDIV, which explains all key issues related to discrimination in an easy and practical way, was developed by UNIA (centre for equal rights) and is accessible for free. Co-valent promoted this platform in its newsletter and through a campaign on its website and a training workshop.
  • In promoting science and events aimed at young people, Co-valent actively looks for female role models, appropriate vocabulary and subjects for girls (eg. Haai8Tech, Dag van de Wetenschap, Breaking Sciences).
  • ‘Dutch/French on the work floor’ training is available free of charge for companies that want to support their employees in learning to speak a different language.
  • Managers dealing with diverse teams can subscribe to the free training ‘Dealing with diversity for managers’.
  • In PlastIQ ‘s KIEM-project (Kunststof is een Missie), low-skilled young people are specifically targeted and coached through projects designed to boost their employability.

People Community engagements

Indaver : 25 years of open communication in the Neighbourhood Council

The first waste was delivered to the depot on the Antwerp site in 1987 and a few years later, Indaver organised its first Neighbourhood Council for the site. In 2016, the council celebrated its 25th anniversary. Direct and transparent communication has always been a priority, and Indaver keeps the local community informed about its activities, projects, licence applications and renewals through the council. It provides figures on quantities, safety and environmental impacts, such as emission results; allows time for questions and comments; and informs people about incidents quickly. Eleven representatives of the local community attended the first Neighbourhood Council in 1991; 57 meetings later, it has 54 members. The council meets on average twice a year and has grown over those 25 years into a forum where other companies and local authorities also meet. Now, every operational Indaver site in Belgium has its own Neighbourhood Council or consultative group.


People Accidents at work

Together for safe working conditions in biotechnology

Safe working conditions for all employees in the biotechnology industry in Belgium are the common objective of and Belgian Biosafety Professionals (BBP), a professional association of experts in biosafety. Both organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in early July 2017 to work together more closely on safety issues in biotech, in both R&D and production.

This cooperation will focus on two areas: sharing relevant information about the latest developments in biotechnology; and events and workshops for professionals in the sector. Respect for people and for the environment is top of the agenda for the biotech industry, and the safety of those working in laboratories and on production sites is paramount to foster innovation in a responsible way. This cooperation will extend and strengthen Belgian expertise in bio safety. Working with micro-organisms, bacterial pathogens and other living material requires an adequate framework. Through a structured dialogue, good working practices will be promoted, with special attention paid to risk analysis, industrial hygiene and optimal safety equipment.


People Employment

Job barometer: strong need for technical and scientific profiles

According to essenscia’s annual jobs survey, companies active in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry had more than 1,300 job vacancies in June 2017.

Higher education is key to be eligible for those jobs: one-third of them require a Masters-level qualification, mainly in engineering, bioengineering or science (chemistry, biology), and one-third require a professional Bachelor-level degree for employment not only in production but also in the R&D departments of pharmaceutical and biotech companies, providing support to researchers.

In Flanders, the need for technical qualifications has increased significantly compared to 2016, up from 29% of job profiles to 41%. Almost half of these jobs require students who, after their secondary school education, have completed a seventh year of specialization in chemical-process techniques. Three-quarters of these technical jobs are in production and the rest relate mainly to maintenance activities.

The sector also offers career opportunities to school leavers with a technical or scientific diploma, as 58% of vacancies in Flanders do not require any previous experience (mainly production jobs in the chemicals industry) while one in five jobs in Wallonia are open to newcomers (mainly in the pharma industry).

This survey confirms that chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector is thriving, with 1,400 new jobs created in the last two years. The industry employs 90,000 people directly in Belgium and generates 150,000 indirect jobs in ‘supporting’ sectors (IT, catering, consultancy, maintenance, etc.). To guarantee enough young people with the talents required for the further development of the sector in Belgium, it is thus paramount to motivate young people to study STEM subjects and to expand dual learning.


Planet Resource efficiency

Saving resources: closing the loop for pharma grade solvents

De Neef Chemical Processing (DNCP) and Janssen Supply Chain Geel share a long history of working together to recycle solvents as much as possible and thus reduce their environmental footprint. From August 2017 onwards, recovered toluene and isopropanol is being re-used at Janssen’s production facilities. DNCP invested in a new high-tech dedicated distillation installation to recover solvents in an ultra-pure grade that meets pharma standards. More than 90% of isopropanol and toluene can be now be re-used by Janssen, which not only means less dangerous waste, less CO2 emissions and less resources but also gives price stability in uncertain economic times with many price fluctuations in the raw materials. This project is a good example of how the sector is delivering the circular economy through partnerships with suppliers.


Prosperity Innovations

GreenWin: innovation catalyst in green chemistry

GreenWin, the competitiveness cluster for environmental technologies in Wallonia, aims at facilitating the generation of innovative projects in the region. More than 13 topics are discussed regularly in working groups bringing together academic experts and industrialists from the chemicals and biotech sector.

GreenWin encompasses 31 projects which have been approved and funded by the Walloon Government with a total budget in excess of 80 million euro. In 2016, it managed two European projects that have placed Walloon sustainable chemistry on the European map: the SCOT project on CO2 valorisation (which has since become a major innovation theme and a topic taken up by the European Commission), and LCIP (Life Cycle in practice), aimed at raising awareness among SMEs about the use of the “Life Cycle Analysis” tool.

Products substitution

Polyphosphonates as sustainable flame retardant

Flame retardancy is a legal requirement for many plastics used in electrical equipment, consumer electronics, construction, textile and transportation applications. Flame retardants (FRs) inhibit ignition, slow the spread of fire or protect infrastructure during a fire, and reduce the production of smoke or toxic fumes.

FRs containing halogen are still widely used, despite their environmental and health risks. Moreover, in the event of a fire or incineration, a halogenated substance may contribute to a build-up of highly toxic substances and increased smoke generation.

Driven by a EU legislative ban on some brominated FRs regulations around the recycling of plastics, companies have been developing safer alternatives, with a focus on non-halogenated FRs.

FRX Polymers®, based in Antwerp, is the first company to have produced safe non-halogenated, non-migrating flame retardant materials, under the brand name Nofia®. These materials prevent the migration of the product out of the host plastic throughout its whole lifetime and stop these chemicals leaching out into the environment or coming into contact with human beings. Moreover, their solvent-free production process generates hardly any waste and is in line with the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry.

This new family of FR additives are highly innovative and eco-friendly. They offer excellent performance and are used in a wide range of polymers such as fibres and fabrics, foams, coatings, sheets and films for transportation, construction, and electronic applications.


Products saving water

Project Schools of Tomorrow – Wavin

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The Flemish authorities are building 200 new school buildings in partnership with AG Real Estate and BNP Paribas Fortis: the Schools of Tomorrow. This public-private partnership has been set up to design, build and finance the schools and maintain them for 30 years. In Beringen, the School of Tomorrow brings together five schools on one 6.5-hectare campus. Wavin is designing and delivering the entire sewage system for draining rainwater and waste water, including the BENOR certified Q-BIC infiltration- and buffer basins.

In the original design, there was a disconnection between the above-ground and underground water management systems, with, for example, pipe diameters which in practice could not be installed. Wavin’s plastic system provided the solution, taking up less space, being more flexible, and more resistant to higher pressures. With two infiltration basins of 510m³ in total and a buffer basin of 290m³, the rain water is managed much more effectively than in the original design. This solution required new approval from the province of Limburg’s ‘Water and Domains’ service, which was granted once they understood the advantages of the Wavin system.



Products saving energy & climate

DuPont : Washing at low temperature thanks to enzymes

Planet Biodiversity

Sustainable sourcing

DETIC has signed the Charter of the Belgian Alliance for sustainable palm oil to promote the use by its members of derivatives of palm oil which have been cultivated in sustainable way, with respect for biodiversity and avoiding deforestation. /

DETIC and AISE have also developed guidelines on the sourcing of renewable and sustainable raw materials, and DETIC promotes the transition to green chemistry and biosourced materials among its members.

Products saving natural resources

Incoplas : Innovating with recycled plastics

Planet Sustainable value chains

Charter for Responsible Advertizing Cosmetics

The Belgian cosmetics industry is committed to working in line with the advertising code of DETIC, which has been extended to include a charter for responsible advertising and marketing communication. In doing so, the cosmetics industry recognises the importance of responsible advertising and marketing communication, which is essential to inform consumers about the characteristics of cosmetic products. The cosmetics industry is committed to ensuring that all of its advertising and marketing communication is in line with European and national legislation and the existing framework for self-regulation. Advertising needs to be socially responsible, sincere, truthful and not misleading to enable consumers to make informed choices.

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Products saving lives

argenx & AbbVie : Using lamas to beat cancer and severe autoimmune diseases

Planet Water quality

Agfa drastically improves the quality of its waste water

Agfa has a long-standing tradition of environmental responsibility. The creation of added values goes hand in hand with the creation of welfare while minimising the environmental and social impact. Agfa not only considers the impact of its own production activities, but also that of up- and downstream activities.

The ecological impact of Agfa’s production activities mainly consists of emissions into the air and water, the use of raw materials and the use of energy. The company has invested significantly in waste water treatment, with more than 50% of its waste water reused on site. It has also installed biological waste water treatment technologies, resulting in a reduction in waste loads of more than 80%.

Planet Energy consumption

Together for less energy at Prayon

Prayon’s Puurs production site has launched a participative project to reduce the energy consumption of its production line. Several brainstorming sessions were organized involving operators, management and engineers, to identify possible sources of energy losses and develop solutions to address these issues.

Measures to tackle the over-consumption of energy fall into five different categories:

  • Adapting the installations
  • Operational follow-up of the processes
  • Maintenance
  • Communication
  • Organization and training

Priorities were identified and a number of actions taken, resulting in one case in a reduction of 15% in steam consumption.

Global energy consumption is monitored on a monthly basis and compared with set targets. Prayon is committed to continuing this exercise and expanding it to other production lines on the site to further reduce its energy consumption


Planet GHG emissions

Saving energy and CO2 by constructing a pipeline

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To supply nitrogen to its customers in the Tessenderlo region, Praxair invested in the construction of a seven kilometer pipeline from its production unit in Lommel.

The pipeline avoids the need for 550 truckloads and 71,500 km of transport each year, and transporting nitrogen through the pipeline allows gaseous nitrogen to be used rather than the liquefied form used for deliveries by truck. As the production of gaseous nitrogen consumes far less energy than the production of liquefied nitrogen, 36540 GJ per year could be saved, representing 1624t of CO2-equivalents.


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Planet Transport and logistics

INEOS/Sabic/Evonik: Safety & supply chain efficiency

Planet Sustainable value chains

essenscia partner in Circular Flanders

Circular Flanders is a public private partnership involving OVAM and various partner from federations as well as organisations representing civil society. Its objective is to make Flanders a circular economy by 2030.

Circular Flanders originates from the Flemish Material Programme and Plan C, but goes even further by looking not only at materials but also at water and food. essenscia is one of the funding partners and intends to play its full role as a catalyzer by engaging as many companies from the sector as possible in the transition to a circular economy.

This transition offers many opportunities and will require solutions from the sector. Cooperation with public authorities will also be essential to explore new ways of thinking, moving away from the produce-use-dispose model. This may require changes in norms and regulations.

essenscia has also signed up to act as a facilitator for Circular Flanders’ ‘Green Deal Circulair Procurement’, under which buyers commit to making at least two circular purchases over the next two years. Facilitators will bring companies together to work on this issue and encourage them to consider not only secondary purchases, such as office supplies but also, and even mainly, primary purchases required for the company’s core business; i.e. its production units.

Planet Biodiversity

Partnership for biodiversity at AKZO NOBEL MONS

As only 38 hectares of the 80-ha AKZO site in Mons is used for industrial activities and the area round the site is already home to some interesting nature, AKZO decided in 2015 to work together with the NGO NATAGORA to encourage biodiversity on the unused land and reinforce the interconnections between the region’s existing areas of natural beauty.

First, Natagora analysed which areas had the greatest potential for re-developing biodiversity, with some 1.4 ha identified as of particular interest due to the presence of rare shrubs and plants.


In a second phase, Natagora set up a management plan to restore the grassland in areas where the most remarkable animals and plants had been observed.

During the summer of 2016, trees were cleared in and around the grassland to enlarge the area. :  This was done together with Natagora in the framework of a natural environment management training programme provided by the Walloon regional agency FOREM. Further extensions and maintenance works are planned, with the long-term goal of integrating this grassland in the Nature Network of Natagora.

«This project underlines our willingness to continue to develop our activities in a sustainable way and in cooperation with local community,» says Site Director Vincent Bertiaux.


Products securing food supply

Phytofar: quantity, quality, sustainability

Products saving natural resources

Plastics on Tour

Young people are often unaware that many high-tech products are based on plastics – and of how important the plastics-converting industry is to the Flemish economy. That is why the sector’s training organisation PlastIQ launched, together with Arburg, the “Plastics on Tour” initiative. Plastics on Tour is a truck equipped with various plastics-converting technologies, such as injection moulding, extrusion and thermoforming. The objective is to promote plastics processing among students and to recruit them to work in the sector. After an interactive visit to the truck, workshops are organised in cooperation with plastic-processing companies in the region. Each year, the truck visits five destinations in one week, reaching about 600 students.

Products REACH registrations

essenscia helps SMEs in implementing chemicals legislation

Ten years since they were launched, the SME guidance projects for the implementation of REACH and CLP remain a success. This complex legislation governing the gathering of information and communicating the risks and hazards of chemical products is still evolving. The last registration deadline of 2018 will surely not be the end of the information-gathering process, but rather the start of a new REACH implementation phase, with a greater emphasis on risk management, communication and substitution of substances of concern.

Since 2007, essenscia has set up two regional projects: the Flanders REACH Implementation Projects (VLARIP) and Wallonia Reach Implementation Programme (WALRIP) Vlaanderens REACH Implementatie Projecten (VLARIP) en Wallonie Reach Implementation Programme (WALRIP)

Over the past decade, some 600 participants from about 200 companies have shared experiences in one or more of over 200 VLARIP workshops. The VLARIP project was supported by 29 ‘godfathers and godmothers’ from 18 leading companies who shared their experience and approach to implementation. Eight of them have been engaged since the very beginning of the project.

In both projects, exchanging experiences is a key element. Among other things, they support SMEs with advice on:

  • REACH registration obligations
  • Defining the strategy for substances of very high concern and substances with restricted use
  • Creating safety data sheets for users
  • Classifying dangerous substances and mixtures according to CLP
  • Obligations for nanomaterials
  • How to use chemicals safely.

Every year, 45 companies actively participate in VLARIP, supervised by 11 expert companies, with 85 companies taking part in WALRIP. The evaluation of these two projects revealed considerable satisfaction among participants. They also attracted the interest of the European Chemicals Agency and EU Member States, with experience with this unique set-up being shared with national helpdesks at the Helpnet meeting in March 2017.

Planet Sustainable value chains

Sustainable procurement at Solvay

Solvay is one of the six founding members of the sustainable supply chain initiative Together for Sustainability (TfS) and is actively pursuing its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy in procurement with TfS.

The company has adopted a risk-based approach in selecting which of its suppliers should be assessed or audited. These suppliers may present a risk for the business, for social standards or for the environment, or they may have been identified as being of strategic interest because Solvay is developing (or wishes to develop) an innovation partnership with them.

Through this approach, Solvay expects a significant long-term improvement in its suppliers’ sustainability practices and a positive impact on its supply chain sustainability. The global objective is for all (or at least a large majority) of these suppliers to be assessed and to reach the standards required by Solvay by 2020.

So far, more than 1,000 suppliers have been assessed, covering more than 50% of Solvay’s spending on procurement, and 67% of the suppliers that have been re-assessed have improved their scores.

One good example of the efforts made by Solvay to support and engage its suppliers in this CSR improvement journey is how one Solvay Global Business Unit has helped a raw material supplier in China to move from a poor CSR score to a gold rating. Thanks to the support of global and local Solvay teams, the supplier now has a CSR score in the top 10% of Solvay’s suppliers, has become the benchmark chemical company in China with respect to CSR and has far more visibility in the TfS community.

Products substitution

Innovating for safer alternatives

In the production of packaging glass, the moulds used to blow liquid glass need to be lubricated regularly. This is a process known as ‘swabbing’, referring to the traditional method where the product is applied manually with a brush. At a temperature of around 500°C, this is potentially a very dangerous operation.

VDV Lubricants, together with the Belgian robot producer Socabelec, have developed an automated system called ‘Swabmatic’, an innovative, ultrapure lubricant applied to the moulds through the nozzle of a robot. This offers many advantages in terms of safety, precision and the consumption of lubricants – with 75% less lubricants required, a production efficiency of nearly 100% can be reached!

Due to the high processing temperature, the lubricant is partially burned and the moulds need to be lubricated every 15 minutes, without leaving any traces of the lubricant on the moulds or glass. Swabpharma is an innovative lubricant which does not release any dangerous substances such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.

It took about three years of research and development to jointly develop the robot and new product. They were launched in the market together as a solution to create a safer working environment in the glass industry.



Planet Resource efficiency

Total Polymers increases the use of recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)


Total Polymers has recently commercialised a new range of HDPE products called “Circular Compounds” which contain 25 or 50% recycled material.  Produced at the company’s Antwerp site, the performance of these products is equal to or exceeds that of virgin HDPE.  As a result, the performance and minimum recycle content are guaranteed by Total. The recycled material originates from household waste collected in Western Europe. Total’s initial production capacity of HDPE Circular Compounds is 20 kT  and is expected to be fully utilized during the course of 2018.  With this development, the company continues to add to its contribution to a more circular economy.

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Products Sustainable use in the supply chain

Informing consumers and professional users better

DETIC has initiated a number of information campaigns aimed at better informing consumers as well as professional users:

  • / is a partnership between DETIC, FPS Health and the old CRIOC supplying consumers with the information they need to protect themselves properly from the sun.
  • / is a partnership between DETIC, FPS Health and UCB/UBK (Union of hairdressers in Belgium) providing information to professional hairdressers on the safe use of hair products, with the aim of improving their working conditions.
  • / , a partnership between DETIC, FPS Health and the old CRIOC promoting the safe and responsible use of hair colouring products by consumers.
People Education

Life-long learning with Co-valent

Through the Co-valent training fund, the industry supports the development of competences of all its employees. That is why, among other things, Co-valent offers a range of free training courses for the sector’s employees.

More than 190 different kinds of training courses are offered in various categories, such as technical, personal skills, IT and well-being training.

Every two years, Co-valent conducts a survey on the training needs of companies in the industry and adapts its offer based on the results. In the last two years, more than 20 new courses have been added to the training offer, including, for example, ‘From operator to maintenance mechanic’; ‘Dealing with burn-out’; ‘Electrical motors’; ‘Excel for operators’; and ‘Becoming a coach in the workplace’.

The number of participants in Co-valent training courses increased from 2,633 in 2015 to 3,310 in 2016, a 26% increase. In 2016, participants came from 410 different companies in the industry, up from 334 companies in 2015, with more than 70 new companies taking up the free training offered by Co-valent.

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Planet Biodiversity

Taking responsibility for preventing pellet loss in Antwerp

In autumn 2016, the port authorities of Antwerp reported that industrial plastic pellets had been found in the water around the docks and on the roads within the port area. Together with Voka-Alfaport, Port of Antwerp and Plastics Europe, this problem is being tackled by:

  • taking action to prevent pellet loss via the Operation Clean Sweep programme (OCS);
  • organising clean-ups of hotspots and setting up a monitoring programme to ascertain how many pellets enter the environment.

Polymer-producing companies are fully engaged in this project and many of them have been taking action to prevent pellet loss over the last decade. In a next step, storage companies are also being motivated to implement the OCS programme.

To underline its engagement in addressing this issue, essenscia has signed the OCS pledge and will encourage its member companies to prevent the loss of plastics into the environment.


Planet Sustainable value chains

Together for Sustainability: The Chemical Industry Initiative for Sustainable Supply Chains

Sustainability is now an integral part of the strategy of a growing number of companies. Beyond striving for sustainability in a company’s own operations, it is also important to understand and improve sustainability in the supply chain.

How do suppliers perform with regards to sustainability? Is the supply chain sustainable, resilient and prepared for the challenges of the future? To address these questions, companies in the chemicals sector founded Together for Sustainability – The Chemical Industry Initiative for Sustainable Supply Chains (TfS) in 2011.

The initiative’s purpose is to implement a global supplier engagement programme to assess, audit and improve sustainability practices within the chemical industry’s supply chains. The approach is built on established principles such as, for example, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Through TfS assessments and on-site audits, suppliers’ sustainability performances are verified against pre-defined criteria tailored to the requirements of the chemicals industry.

The TfS approach consists of two core activities: TfS assessments conducted by EcoVadis, an external service provider for CSR assessments; and TfS audits conducted by independent audit companies approved by TfS. The advantage for suppliers of undergoing a TfS assessment or audit is the TfS principle that “an audit/assessment for one is an audit/assessment for all”. This implies that the results of sustainability assessments and audits of one TfS member are – with the supplier’s consent – shared amongst all members.

The TfS programme is more than a simple certification scheme, or a pass or fail exercise for suppliers. It is a starting point for a constructive dialogue between the TfS member’s purchasing organisation and its suppliers. It offers instruments for both the supplier and the buyer to identify areas and opportunities for improvement. Suppliers can document their improvement through re-assessments, with 72% of those who underwent a re-assessment improving their score, illustrating their willingness to actively engage in implementing improvements.

Since its inception, TfS has grown to 19 member companies and reached out to thousands of suppliers.

Current TfS members representing about 313 bn turnover* and 219 bn spend** (*published/**estimated)

Meanwhile, the sustainability performance of 6,383 suppliers has been rated within the TfS initiative based on EcoVadis assessments, and 724 TfS audits have been carried out. In 2016 alone, 241 new TfS audits were conducted through the TfS Audit Programme and 1,773 new supplier assessments were conducted through EcoVadis.

Products saving lives

GSK Vaccines: Multi channel platform

Products saving natural resources

SESVanderHave: Developing the sugar beet varieties of the future

People Age pyramid

Guinness World Record ‘Largest chemistry course’ in Flanders

essenscia vlaanderen, the ‘Vrije Middelbare School Roeselare’ and VIVES high school together hold the Guinness Book of Records’ world record for the ‘largest chemistry course’.

Belgium first took the record from the UK in 2015 after essenscia vlaanderen and Technopolis organised a chemistry course for 1,018 students from 26 different schools. The following year, they set a new record by organising a course, supported by BASF, GSK and Solvay, with 1,223 students running four chemical experiments simultaneously.

This Guinness World Record really belongs to Flanders, the world champion in chemistry on a GDP per capita basis. Through this initiative, essenscia aims to introduce young people to technology, science and chemistry, and to show how chemistry is playing an important role in our daily lives and in developing solutions to global challenges.

The sector is in need of young talent and is striving to motivate young people to choose to study STEM subjects at school and university and, in the long term, opt for careers in the chemicals, plastics or life sciences industry.


People Age pyramid

Developing talent and competences

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Finding people with the right talents and attitude, developing them and keeping them motivated, determines the success of a company. This cannot be achieved without a sustainable human resources policy. Co-valent’s mission is to strengthen the skills of every employee in the industry and in doing so, contribute to ensuring employees are motivated throughout their careers.

SMEs that want to invest in HR management and are looking for HR consultancy support can use a consultancy cheque of up to €6000 from Co-valent, which has already supported more than 40 SMEs in setting up HR skills management projects. These projects revolved mainly around setting up a competence management system, developing job descriptions and establishing an enlistment procedure or evaluation policy.



Prosperity R&D expenses

Supporting start-ups to accelerate ground-breaking innovations in healthcare

JLINX, a new investment and incubation model, was developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica in collaboration with Bioqube Ventures and launched in April 2016 to support start-up companies and projects with the potential to bring about significant transformations in the field of healthcare.

JLINX provides young entrepreneurs with a unique combination of resources: venture capital, infrastructure and collaborations with organisations in the European ecosystem. The aim is to accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries and realise breakthroughs in healthcare.

JLINX is located on the Janssen Campus in Beerse, Belgium, and is managed by Bioqube Ventures, which monitors the selection of companies to benefit from venture capital investments.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s mission is to foster and develop the most promising science – from inside or outside the company – to create solutions for patients and consumers around the globe. Since its launch, the JLINX community has already welcomed seven companies that are performing highly promising research in the areas of microbiome, oncology and new discovery platforms. The aim is to expand the community to 20 companies within three years.


People Mobility

Sustainable mobility at UCB


UCB has two sites in Belgium: its headquarters in Brussels and a large R&D and production site in Braine-l’Alleud. The well-being of all of its workers and nearby communities is important to the company and mobility is an integral part of this well-being. UCB also aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

To this end, the company has developed a large portfolio of initiatives to promote sustainable mobility, by offering financial compensation to employees (for bike fees, full reimbursement of public transport) and by making it easier to work from home or travel sustainably (flexible homeworking, facilities for cyclists, dedicated carpool parking, etc.).

UCB counts on a dozen enthusiastic internal bike ambassadors to promote cycling to work. The company also organises training sessions on how to drive safely in traffic or repair your own bike. Bikes are available on both company sites for use during business hours. Workers can also use them during their lunch breaks or to test the possibility of riding home by (electric) bike. In 2014, UCB joined the ‘Tous Vélo Actif’ initiative and two years later, was awarded the maximum score of 5 stars.

UCB also actively promotes carpooling, with dedicated carpool parking spaces; a common carpool platform with other companies in the neighbourhood; and active support for, and the promotion of, the principle of carpooling by UCB’s management. An example is the convention UCB signed with the Walloon Region to open 20 parking spots on UCB’s private parking for use by the general public for carpooling.

To further reduce the carbon footprint of its workers’ commuter journeys, UCB has included electric cars in the company car fleet, with dedicated parking spots for electric cars with charging points. In 2016, UCB also provided training in ecofriendly driving; and organised information sessions on the different options for alternatively fueled cars (electric, CNG, etc.).

For its total portfolio of mobility initiatives, UCB received the ‘Trophée Mobilité des Entreprises’ in 2016 and the ‘Défi mobilité’ from the Walloon Region, together with the industrial parc Vallée du Hain, in 2015.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor vélo actif 5étoiles

Products saving energy & climate

I prefer 30 : two successive campaigns to change consumption habits

Life-cycle analysis studies have demonstrated that the energy used by washing machines to heat the water has a significant impact on the environment. Nevertheless, most Belgians stick to the old habit of washing their laundry at high temperatures, even though the results are the same at lower temperatures. If average washing temperatures were to fall by just 3°C, washing machines in Belgium would use about 11% less energy, avoiding the equivalent of the CO2 emissions of more than 10,000 cars. In the meantime, the sector has developed innovative products which are equally efficient at making laundry clean and fresh at just 30°C.

That is why DETIC, COMEOS, the FPS environment and a number of other partners launched the «I prefer 30» campaign to change consumers’ habits, promoting the use of washing machines at lower temperatures and thereby reducing energy bills as well as CO2 emissions.

In 2014, the campaign reached more than 2,421,000 people (20% of the Belgian population). The second IP 30 campaign ran from September 2016 to January 2017 via Facebook and activities in shopping centres all over the country. It is estimated that in this second phase of the campaign, the ‘I Prefer 30’’message reached 1,768,834 persons (16% of the Belgian population) and generated 3,625,079 contacts – a minimum of two messages per person – in just four months.

IP30 sur Facebook : &

IP30 on line : &


Prosperity R&D expenses

A passive office in line with our core business

REALCO continuously invests in research and development to stay at the cutting edge of world-class enzymatic technology. This investment and the steady growth of the company have led to the construction of a new building – a €1.8 million, one-year project which has enabled REALCO to expand the production area and warehousing, and improve its R&D laboratories, while still leaving around 30% of free space to allow for future growth.

The building has been designed to be passive, in line with REALCO’s core business: enzymes, ecological and sustainable alternative to traditional cleaning products. The office, workshop and exterior fittings use low-consumption LED lamps for lighting; they have triple glazing, 26cm of external walls insulation and 30cm of roof insulation; they are fitted with motion sensors to prevent any unnecessary electricity consumption; ventilation is mechanically controlled and equipped with air exchangers, ensuring continuous air renewal; and the 252 photovoltaic panels producing 65 kWh of electricity enable REALCO to be independent in terms of electricity consumption.

Through such initiatives, REALCO wishes to prove that an ecologically responsible attitude is compatible with healthy growth in a company.

Products securing food supply

Evonik: A new sustainable shrimp feed

Taking care global: Solvay’s universal minimum benefits package for all employees

Solvay has always believed in providing its employees with more than just a job. Decades before the advent of the welfare state, the company was already running its own social security programme. In 2017, it is taking the next step in this direction with ‘Solvay Cares’, a common minimum package of benefits for the 30,000 people who work for the group.

Specifically, Solvay Cares covers four areas: Maternity and Co-parent/Adoption leave; Medical care; Disability; and Life insurance. How does this translate in terms of benefits? For each of these fields, employees are offered as a minimum:

● Full income protection during parental leave, established at 14 weeks for the mother – following World Health Organization recommendations – and one week for the co-parent and for adoption;

● At least 75% of medical fees covered in case of hospitalisation or severe illnesses, topping up public social security;

● Disability insurance in case of lasting incapacity, with two years of salary covered;

● Life insurance with coverage of up to two years of salary for the family or partner.

All of this will substantially increase employee social protection in a number of countries. In the United States, for example, Solvay Cares improves the standard for maternity leave; in China and Poland, it introduces disability insurance; and in India and Russia, life insurance. As for paternity leave, it is currently non-existent for many Solvay employees.

With this initiative, Solvay joins a small club of less than a dozen multinational corporations that have introduced global minimum benefits programmes. This initiative follows closely on the signature of a significant agreement with the IndustriALL Global Union in February 2017, reinforcing Solvay’s commitment to provide the same basic labour and social rights to all its employees.

Prosperity Investments

Belgium, place to be for high tech investments in chemistry and life sciences

People Employment

‘We Are Chemistry’ job event to attract students

In 2017, essenscia vlaanderen, together with ‘Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij Antwerpen’ and the province of Antwerp, organized a ‘We Are Chemistry’job event for the sixth time. This event gives young people with a scientific or technical background the opportunity to meet renowned companies from the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry, such as BASF, Chemours, Covestro, Eurochem, Ineos, Monsanto, Oleon and Praxair. The province of Antwerp is a truly world-class chemical cluster as it is home to more than 250 companies from the sector, which is permanently in search of new young talent with a STEM educational background and offers ongoing training programmes to further develop and build careers. Almost 500 students and youngsters in search of a job participated in this event.


People Employee qualifications

Sectorial training centre PlastiIQ

The plastics-converting industry, with its 34,000 employees, is an important economic sector in Flanders. PlastIQ, the training organisation set up by the sector’s social partners, was created to meet companies’ needs in training, educating and employing job seekers. PlastIQ also undertakes various initiatives with schools to familiarise young people with this fascinating industry.

The services provided by PlastIQ have been well-received: since 2014, 700 employees have followed a training course; 93 job seekers have been trained as plastics operators , of which 75% found employments afterwards; 1,459 students followed a one-day training course in one of the four Flemish ‘centre schools for plastic technologies’; and 7,477 primary school pupils took part in a workshop in the plastics lab.

PlastIQ intends to continue in this direction in future, with a focus on professionalising the service for companies and employees. The training it provides responds to the needs of the industry and the changing profiles of those it collaborates with.

Planet Energy efficiency

Agfa engaged in improving energy efficiency

Through its engagement in the energy benchmark covenant, Agfa has significantly improved the energy efficiency of its production over the last decade. It has installed various networks on its production sites enabling the recovery of residual heat for energy production or production processes, and investments in cogeneration technology have led to significant savings in primary energy usage. As a result, total CO2 emissions have been reduced by 30,000 tonnes over ten years. Agfa remains committed to continued improvements in its energy efficiency by upgrading its cogeneration units, installing more efficient compressors for compressed air, switching to LED lighting and optimising the ventilation in buildings.


People Diversity

Co-valent training reaches out to all

The chemistry, plastics and life sciences industry invests heavily in its employees’ education. Co-valent, the sector’s training fund, is a joint organization founded to support the development of employees’ skills. To do this, every company in the industry can register their employees for free training courses provided by Co-valent or receive financial support for other training costs incurred.

For the past two years, Co-valent has been measuring the diversity of the employees attending these free courses and those who received training for which financial support was provided.

Slightly more women than men register for free training provided by Co-valent relative to the proportion of women in the total workforce. This reflects the fact that, proportionately, many more white-collar employees take such courses than blue-collar workers. This also explains why more highly-educated people register for these courses.

The statistics also show that efforts are needed to attract more employees aged over 45 and non-Belgian employees to training.

Based on these diversity figures, Co-valent adapts its offer and communications, and launches initiatives to reinforce diversity in companies.


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Products saving natural resources

Plastimobile: I collect, I sort, I make

As it celebrates its fifth anniversary, the Plastimobile is – more than ever – an excellent tool to bring the circular economy to life for the public, especially young people. Polymers offer great comfort to their users, but also have an afterlife if they are collected and sorted properly. Hence the Plastimobile motto: “I collect, I sort, I manufacture”.

The Plastimobile is a workshop on wheels which travels around Wallonia and Brussels encouraging young and old alike to put their plastic waste in the garbage or to bring them to the container park. The truck is equipped with a shredder, an injection-molding machine and a vacuum former so the Plastimobile team can show audiences how to recycle plastics into new objects.

The Plastimobile visits schools and attends numerous trade shows such as the Libramont agricultural fair as well as concerts. It can count on the support of students in the plastics sections of the Athénée de Ciney and Athénée de Châtelet (Wallonia), who run the stand at big events and inform young people about the great career opportunities on offer to those who opt for technical studies in plastics.

In 2016, the Plastimobile traveled to 63 schools and reached 2,858 students. It also attended 21 fairs, including the Libramont agricultural fair where it reached 8,590 people.

In August 2017, Plastimobile led a special operation « Zero butt in nature » at the music festival Espéranzah. Festival-goers were invited to bring back their cigarette butts in exchange for ashtrays with fastening clips made out of recycled plastic cups. The operation was a real success, with more than 250 plastics cups transformed into 500 ashtrays which were distributed during the festival.


Products Sustainable use in the supply chain

0800 62 604: promoting the correct use of plant protection products in the garden

Phytofar members have invested about 10 million euro over the past five years in providing a range of solutions for garden pests that are adapted to the needs of small gardens and non-professional users. However, using these products correctly in accordance with the instructions on the label remains key to ensure safety for customers, their families and the environment.

Actually reading the label remains the first step to ensure the correct use of plant protection products. Trained staff in shops who hold competence certificates known as ’phytolicences’ can also inform customers about any issues related to the use of these products.

To provide extra help for users, Phytofar – together with the retail associations Comeos and BTV – have set up a toll free number (0800 62 604*) where consumers can get practical advice from highly-trained professionals. They are available six days a week from 8.00 to 20.00 during the gardening season and also on Sundays from 9.00 to 13.00 in the peak season from March 1st to June 30th .

More info is available in Dutch on or in French on

*Only available for +32 land lines and mobile numbers.

Products saving natural resources

Millibeter: Let’s make the future fly

Products saving water

Intelligent solutions for sustainable rainwater management

Image result for intesio

Climate change, urbanisation and new regulations have made water management an important topic worldwide. Wavin’s Intesio system is a recent innovative solution for sustainable water management, based on the key principle of returning cleaned rainwater to the natural water cycle and thus preventing sewage systems and wastewater treatment installations becoming overloaded.

The Intesio concept offers a solution for the draining, temporary retention, purification and infiltration of rainwater. The system processes every raindrop from the roof to the soil. The rainwater is decoupled, filtered if needed and retained in underground infiltration units made of recyclable plastics with a lifetime of several decades. Via these units, the rainwater infiltrates the soil and the natural water cycle is closed. Intesio not only results in energy and cost reductions linked to water transport and water treatment, but also allows ground water levels to be regulated.

Wavin professionals develop a tailor-made package of Intesio solutions for each building project, taking into account local factors such as the intensity of urbanization, groundwater levels, the type of soil, the level of pollution and expected rain intensity.

Image result for intesio


Products saving natural resources

Reducing environmental impacts through lubricants innovation

The Flemish institute for technological research (VITO) conducted an assessment of improvements in the environmental impact of lubricants over the past 20 years. The study focused on automotive engine oil as it accounts for the biggest share of the lubricant market. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach was followed, studying the environmental impact per km driven. The study concluded that the environmental impact of automotive engine oil per km driven has fallen over the last two decades (see the graph below). Several developments have contributed to this. Motorists can now drive much longer distances with the same amount of oil, reducing the total environmental impact of lubricant and packaging. Lubricant waste management has also improved significantly, moving from uncontrolled disposal to recycling. Taking into account the reduction in fuel consumption resulting from the development of new automotive engine oils, the overall impact is far less for all indicators considered.


People Community engagements

Borealis sponsors Lego Education Studio at Beringen

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During the summer holidays, the children of Borealis employees can attend a three-day Lego camp in the Lego Studio on the campus of the Spectrum College in Beringen. Borealis has signed the STEM Charter, working to attract young people to choose courses with high STEM content (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) from an early age. By establishing a LEGO Education Studio at the Spectrum College, where the children construct robots and are fully immersed in the wonderful world of Lego, Borealis aims to inspire young boys and girls to learn by exploring, searching and designing. Borealis sponsored the construction of the LEGO Education Studio, which is a unique collaboration between the education and business worlds.



Products saving natural resources

CO2 as a resource


The sector of the industrial gases (gases used for industrial purposes such as oxygen, nitrogen, CO2) is capturing 300,000 ton CO2 per year in Belgium. As such, it avoids CO2 emissions in the atmosphere equivalent to 100,000 cars.

CO2 is captured from recovery of waste gas in the production of:

  • ethylene oxide
  • bio-ethanol from biomass
  • ammonia
  • dry ice

This CO2 is not only used as a resource in chemical processes, for inerting explosive or flammable atmospheres or for neutralizing the PH of waste waters, but also in various applications such as fire extinguishers, in soft drinks, dry ice blasting, a cooling medium replacing CFCs, the stimulation of plant growth in horticulture, and even as a raw material to produce mattresses!


Prosperity Investments

Chemicals and pharma companies top FIT Trophy Awards.

For the fifth year in a row, Flanders Investment & Trade organised the prestigious Foreign Investment Trophy (FIT) awards again in 2017. This investment competition highlights the importance of foreign investment as an economic driver in Flanders and the world.

The chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry has a long and successful track record in attracting foreign investments. French biopharma firm Sanofi claimed the grand prize at the FIT awards ceremony for funneling €300 million into the expansion of its biotech factory in Geel, Flanders. Five decades after opening its first base at the port of Antwerp in Flanders, the German chemical giant BASF won the Lifetime Achievement Trophy after growing over the last 50 years to become the largest production centre in Belgium and the second largest in the BASF group worldwide.

In 2016, a company called Nippon Shokubai won the grand prize at the FIT Trophy Awards for a €350 million investment in its production site at Zwijndrecht for a new acrylic acid production unit and to expand its production capacity for the superabsorbent polymers. Datwyler Pharma Packaging won in the ‘Europe’ category for its investments in a production site at Alken, while pharma giant Pfizer won in the North- and South-America category for its investments in high-tech production units at its Puurs site.

People Community engagements

Installing an Incident and Crisis Management System (ICMS)

Accurate information and effective communications, both internally and externally with all relevant stakeholders, are key elements in the management of an incident. In Belgium, a national security portal was launched in early 2017: the Incident & Crisis Management System (ICMS). The project, which is run by the FPS Home Affairs and is funded by the industry through the Seveso Fund, aims to promote information exchange and cooperation both during emergencies and in emergency planning.

During emergencies, the portal contributes to shared awareness of the situation at operational and policy levels. Transdisciplinary cooperation and interoperability are key for efficient crisis management. The platform was established in consultation with representatives of all the relevant services and authorities involved in responding to and managing emergency situations.

Prosperity Innovations

New ways to treat aneurysms and detect septicemy thanks to BioWin

Biowin (, the Walloon Health cluster which has more than 160 members, aims to stimulate innovation and partnerships in the fields of pharma, diagnostic and medical devices.

A great deal has been achieved over the last two years. Eight new projects were approved in 2016, three of which were on the “Industry 4.0” theme, bringing the total to 43 projects worth 137 million euro. In 2015 and 2016, many projects were also completed, giving birth to new products on the market to improve health.

In 2012, Cardiatis introduced the Walbiostent project, aimed at optimizing the architecture of its multilayer 3D stent to treat cerebral aneurysm. Since then, it has developed four different stents for treating different zones: peripheric, aortic, brain or chest. The peripheric stents have received a CE marking and more than 4000 stents have already been fitted.

Coris Bioconcept has developed a new diagnostic tool to detect septicemy through the Paradis project. This tool is now in the validation process, with clinicals trials in several hospitals. Coris is developing an extension of the platform’s diagnostics applications to optimise treatment methods.


Planet Water quality

InOpSys: Sustainable solutions for wastewater treatment

People Occupational diseases

B-FIT@BASF: healthy employees in a healthy company

Since 2010, the BASF Antwerp health promotion project B-Fit@BASF has been working to facilitate healthy behaviour and motivate employees to make healthy choices. The programme is based on three basic ingredients for health: healthy nutrition, balance, and movement/sports.

Behind the scenes, an enthusiastic, voluntary project group of 15 employees – representing different departments at BASF (medical, communications, HR, shift workers, facility management, etc.) – works all year round to encourage healthy behaviours and to organise health activities. Examples of such activities include sport sessions at lunchtimes, workshops, preventive health tests, and initiatives to facilitate and guarantee healthy foods in the restaurant.

B-Fit@BASF also focuses on specific target groups. ‘Time out for Health on the Road’ is a project specifically aimed at shift workers, with three workshops organised sequentially for every shift team in their control room (“sleeping & shiftwork”, “healthy nutrition & shiftwork” and “moving in shift”). The project lasted for one and a half years (2012-2014) and 132 teams took part.

Follow-up projects continued to focus on these three topics to ensure a sustained approach. A book ‘Aan tafel in de shift’ was produced to promote healthy food choices for shift workers. It contains an informative chapter about “healthy nutrition & shift work”, and a practical chapter with quick and healthy recipes delivered by the company’s own employees. Sleep coaching is also offered in BASF’s training module for shift workers, and dynamic working is being promoted.


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Products saving natural resources

Cross-border clustering to stimulate the bio-economy

The sustainable production of chemicals requires the re-thinking of supply chains and replacing a portion of the fossil feedstock with renewable resources.

The Bio Innovation Growth mega Cluster (BIG-C) is a cross-border ‘Smart Specialisation Initiative’ which aims to transform Europe’s industrial mega cluster in the Flanders region of Belgium, The Netherlands and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia into a global leader of bio-based innovation growth.

The region has been a powerhouse of industrial innovation in the chemistry sector for decades. The sector comprising chemical, food and other industries contributes approximately 25% to the cumulative GDP of EUR 1,780 billion per year, making North-West Europe one of the most prosperous regions of the world. Institutions, infrastructure, the macroeconomic situation and the education system are all excellent, so the mega cluster already excels in all four of the key pillars of competitiveness.

BIG-C has been established by three cluster organisations – BE-Basic (The Netherlands), Catalisti (Flanders, Belgium) CLIB (NRW, Germany) – and their representatives also act on behalf of several other participating bio-economy organisations in their home regions.

BIG-C’s mission is to stimulate the development of the bio-economy in the industrial mega cluster Antwerp-Rotterdam-Rhine-Ruhr (ARRR). The goal is to transition to regionally available bio-based and sustainable raw materials for feedstock, contributing to climate protection and safeguarding jobs in the mega region. Implementing bio innovations will fundamentally shift the basis of our daily lives from fossil to bio-based and other renewable resources.

BIG-C is currently working on setting up collaborations within three “Feedstock-to-Product” Flagships: Aromatics & fine chemicals from woody biomass; Chemicals from CO & CO2; and Aviation fuel from various feedstocks.


Planet GHG emissions

Limiting F-gas emissions at Agfa.

Agfa is fully committed to minimizing its emissions to air. To reduce the emissions of fluorinated gases acting a greenhouse gas, all cooling units still using the hydro-chlorofluorocarbon R22, have been retrofitted to an alternative hydrofluorocarbon with a lower Global Warming Potential. At the same time the COP (Coefficient of Performance) of some of the cooling machines was increased to 10, compared to the traditional cooling machines with a COP of 4 to 6. In addition the chances for release of F-gases has been reduced by installing a secondary circuit on all cooling machines.


Planet Energy efficiency

Fully committed to energy efficiency at Evonik Antwerp

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Evonik Antwerp participates in energy policy agreements with the Flemish Authorities and is using an energy management system (EMS) to improve energy efficiency in a sustainable way, in accordance the international norm ISO 50001. This includes training and involving all employees in this effort.

The company uses cogeneration technologies to produce electricity and steam simultaneously in an energy-efficient way. By doing so, Evonik Antwerp has succeeded in reducing its fuel consumption by 30%. To further reduce energy consumption, the cogen unit not only uses natural gas but also off-gases from the production installations. All of this has led to CO2 emission reductions of 180.000 t.

In 2013 Evonik Antwerp also took the pioneering step of investing in a wind turbine for generating electricity. This wind turbine generates 8,000,000 kWh of renewable energy a year, all of which is used by Evonik. This corresponds to a saving of an additional 3450t of CO2 (equivalent to the emissions of 1,495 cars).

Surplus heat from the production installations is recovered and used to the maximum for the production of steam, with more than 30% of the steam used by the Antwerp site generated from surplus heat.

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Prosperity Innovations

3M: Turning new ideas into customer solutions

Prosperity Innovations

Eastman: Innovation activating a whole value chain

Products REACH registrations

VLARIP-project essenscia ensures efficient implementation of REACH legislation

Prosperity Innovations

Senior mentorship for innovative start-ups and SME’s

Following the success of the first essenscia Innovation Award, jury chair François Cornelis, former Vice President of the Total Executive Committee, created the Innovation Circle in 2013. This is a permanent organisation offering free assistance and mentoring to startups and SMEs in the sector to help them develop their projects and take them to market.

The Innovation Circle gathers together 13 chemicals sector ex-CEOs and academics. essenscia, Deloitte, KUL and UCL are the main sponsors of this initiative, and its ultimate goal is to create employment and added value in the Belgian chemicals sector.

Project owners seeking support need to demonstrate a clear link with chemistry, life sciences and/or plastics; their projects must be highly innovative; and the academic R&D must be proven and protected. Eligible projects must also be sustainable and offer a clear prospect of added value for Belgium.

Candidates are required to present their project at an Innovation Circle meeting and the Circle then decides if and what type of assistance it will receive. One of the members of the Circle follows the project closely for at least one year.

In a next step, mature projects requiring capital can apply for funding to the Innovation fund.


Products CLP

DetNet: a network of experts for the CLP classification of detergents

DetNet, the Detergent Industry Network for CLP Classification, is a collective industry approach developed and piloted by A.I.S.E. and its network of National Associations such as Detic, in dialogue with stakeholders, to classify and label detergent and cleaning products for skin and eye effects.

The overall aim of DetNet is to give manufacturers and suppliers of detergents and cleaning products access to shared test data and expert judgment to allow for a science-based process for classification of products with respect to skin/eye effects, which is in line with CLP principles. DetNet builds on the ‘bridging principles’ from the CLP Regulation by allowing a company with a given untested mixture to classify it by comparing it with similar tested mixtures, i.e. Reference Formulations from the database.

Currently more than 150 companies have joined DetNet, establishing a database of more than 200 reference formulations. Tested Mixture compositions are made available to classification experts from companies. End 2016, more than 1000 products were classified using DetNet. A real success which allowed numerous products to have a more adequate CLP labelling based on robust test data and a real added value for the consumer.

People Education

A fabulous lab to experience chemistry!

The “Lab’Expo Chemistry and Life Sciences” will open its doors to the public at the science museum PASS ( near Mons on November 28 2017.

This new exhibition will feature interactive demonstrations of how chemistry and pharmacy impact on our everyday lives. It will also host a real-size lab where youngsters aged eight and above can enjoy fun and educational experiences with their teachers or families. An interactive display will also allow visitors to discover which jobs and studies within the sector would suit them best.

This project is an example of the constructive partnership between chemistry and life sciences actors. It has been developed in close collaboration with essenscia wallonie and the sector’s trade unions, and with the financial support of Co-Valent, the sector’s fund for training. BASF, GSK, Solvay and Total have also supported this initiative and contributed to creating the content for the exhibition.

Planet Water use

Circular use of water at Lanxess

The LANXESS caprolactam production site in Lillo consumes over 3,000,000m³ of tap water a year. This is mainly used as process and boiler feed water, and leaves the site either as wastewater discharged into the river Scheldt or as water vapour that evaporates from the cooling towers.

Today, an intermediate waste water stream is being treated with reverse osmosis. Extensive plant trials have indicated that the permeate of this reverse osmosis installation can replace some of the process water, reducing both tap water consumption and the amount of wastewater generated.

This project was already partly implemented in 2016, leading to a 90,000m³ (2.8%) reduction in tap water consumption and 4.8% decrease in the wastewater discharged into the river Scheldt. The project will be fully implemented in 2017 and from 2018 onwards, a decrease in tap water consumption of 300,000m³ (9.4%) per year can be expected, while the wastewater flow generated by LANXESS will be reduced by 15.8%.

The integrated production complex for polyamide and precursors for plastics in Lillo (Antwerp) is the backbone of LANXESS’ global business for high-tech plastics. The complex has a capacity of 220,000 metric tons of caprolactam per year.




Products saving energy & climate

Revolutionary technology for windows and doors

Linktrusion® is a revolutionary technology introduced back in 2011 which resulted in a complete redesign of PVC window profiles. In the meantime, all Deceuninck Zendow#neo window profiles have been provided with this technology. Deceuninck also extended its range to door profiles and sliding windows.

Linktrusion® is a combination of various solutions, a continuously evolving technology where new and traditional materials are combined. The new window profile contains recycled PVC and the wing profile has more chambers, guaranteeing better insulation properties. The steel in the wing profile is replaced with integrating glass fibres, providing excellent rigidity and thermal insulation properties. The resulting window provides 35% better insulation compared to traditional windows, and brings more light and visibility as smaller profiles can be used. Thanks to the use of recycled PVC and the steel being replaced with glass fibres, resource efficiency is drastically improved. Moreover, at the end of its life, the window profile is 100% recycled for use in, for example, window sills, sound walls along motorways, and wall cladding. In 2015, the Society of Plastic Engineers selected the technology as winner of the Innovation Award for the Benelux countries in the ‘Hybrid Product’ category. This innovation is also included in the database of OVAM Ecodesign, a network for those active in sustainable innovation.


Prosperity Innovations

Intense4Chem : innovative chemical processes* for improved safety and energy efficiency

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The goal of the “Intense4Chem” project led by Certech in collaboration with the Belgian Ceramic Research Centre, the Université catholique de Louvain and the Université de Liège is to develop intensified continuous chemical processes. It addresses the chemical industry’s need to introduce more efficient, low-energy consuming and safer processes, and to reduce its environmental impact.

The six-year project started early in 2016 and covers three main topics: the synthesis and processing of biobased chemicals, the handling of liquids containing small solid particles, and the design of functionalised microreactors.

The first results were achieved after 18 months, with the development of a flow process to produce glycerol carbonate continuously from glycerol and dimethyl carbonate. A new type of reactor was also designed to handle slurries in a continuous way and was made by a 3D printer (see pictures). Finally, work to develop a catalytic flow reactor in which a specific catalyst is grafted onto a metallic or ceramic foam is progressing well. This innovation will improve heat transfer efficiency by a factor of 15 and increase safety by reducing the quantity of explosive chemicals in the system.

*Projects funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.

People Education

Chemistry Kit: experiences in the classroom!


Whether in chemistry or in life sciences, conducting experiments is essential to challenge the image of science as disconnected from reality and to give young people a love of science.

To this end, the sector developed three different experimental chemistry kits in collaboration with educational experts. These kits allow teachers and pupils aged between 14 and 18 to carry out experiments in the classroom without the need for a lab. The experiments included in these kits are modeled on the official educational programme and are thus directly related to the way the subject is taught.

To be accessible to the greatest number of pupils, Sciences Adventure, which works to attract young people to study STEM subjects, finances 50% of the cost of buying them. Since they were launched in 2016, 600 kits have been sold.

This initiative has been praised by the education community as well as by Marie-Martine Schyns, Minister of Education of the Walloon Federation Brussels, who visited a school in November 2016 to find out more about this way of learning by experimenting and enjoying science

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People Occupational diseases

From corrective to proactive ergonomics

Since 2015, ergonomists are consulted at the start of each engineering project at BASF. This makes more sense than scheduling an overview of critical ergonomic issues at the end of a project, as it avoids any need to correct the design of an installation, office or other project after completion. The company works to avoid the need for corrective ergonomics as much as possible, preferring to look forward and work proactively.

To give just one example: in 2016, a project was rolled out to make adjustments to a tank. From the beginning, factors such as accessibility, the width of passages, the minimum required working area during maintenance work, the accessibility of controls, etc. were all taken into account. If this had not been done, adjustments to the installation (including new scaffolding) would have been required after completion or when the first problems occurred. The avoidable technical cost was estimated at €158,000 (not including the potential costs of temporary loss of production and staff absenteeism). Result: less costs, less incidents.


People Process safety

Efficient crisis communication, key to safety

Crisis and safety management are crucial for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry, and a professional and well-prepared communications strategy is essential to successful crisis management in any company.

To support its members in this field, essenscia organises a dedicated media training course every year to give them the essential tools they need to communicate effectively with the press and to ensure that the right messages are delivered to the public. During the course of one day, participants are coached intensively and do practice interviews in front of a camera to ensure that if an incident happens, they will be ready and able to convey their message to the press and public in the clearest way possible.

Practical guide to crisis management

Next to this, essenscia has produced a practical guide on “Crisis management”, providing tips and tricks which can be very helpful in the event of a crisis or incident. You can download this folder.

Planet Industrial waste

Greener Packaging Award

The Greener Packaging Award was created by FOST Plus and Val-I-Pac in partnership with Fevia, COMEOS and DETIC, and later on Agoria and PMC BMP, to reward companies that make innovative efforts to limit the environmental impact of their packaging.

Packaging is necessary to protect and preserve products, and to provide key information for customers. Companies are increasingly taking responsibility to fulfil their obligations when it comes to packaging and recognize that innovative designs that also focus on the packaging life cycle are interesting from an ecological as well as an economic point of view.

In 2015, MagiPro won the first prize in the “household packaging” category. BEVIL, the company behind the Magi Pro range, now delivers its cleaning products as screw-cap refills with 20 ml of highly concentrated product. You dilute the product yourself at home, in half a liter of water, thus reduces the packaging required drastically.

Products Sustainable use in the supply chain

Fyteauscan: an online stewardship tool for professionals to tackle water-related risks

Plant protection products are important tools to protect staple food, fruits and vegetables all along the production chain. They also help to prevent food loss in the field and during transport and storage. Most crops are cultivated in the open air and one of the key challenges is to avoid even minute quantities of these products entering the water supply.

The Phytofar branch federation, in cooperation with various stakeholders, has invested in many stewardship initiatives. On the one hand, the environmental quality standards for plant protection products are extremely tough and, on the other, agriculture is highly dependent on many uncertain factors, such as levels of rainfall. To assist farmers, Phytofar has launched a handy online support tool (Fyteauscan to help them check for potential water pollution risks in their specific local situation. The analysis is based on a subset of questions per critical control point.

The industry is committed to supporting its customers and operators with dedicated stewardship programmes such as Fyteauscan to keep water clean.


Prosperity Trade balance

NMC: Focussing on export


People Employee qualifications

A unique partnership for a new training centre for the plastics industry.

employee qualifications

The province of Limburg accounts for almost a quarter of all employment in the plastic-converting industry in Flanders. To strengthen its key position still further, a sector-specific ‘New Materials’ training centre was inaugurated in 2016. This state-of-the-art training centre is the result of a unique partnership between PlastIQ, VDAB , RTC Limburg and essenscia vlaanderen. It is not only open to employees of the plastic-converting industry, but also reaches out to students in technical and vocational education as well as job seekers, offering them an opportunity to develop and improve their technical competences under the supervision of a dedicated trainer. This training centre is a real investment in the future of the plastic-converting industry in Belgium.



Products securing food supply

Guaranteeing food supply

With the support of the essenscia’s Innovation Fund, the start-up Fyteko is developing revolutionary products to guarantee good harvest yields, even in extremely dry conditions.

Fyteko has developed a biodegradable molecule which improves plants’ resistance to water scarcity in a natural way. In regions with limited rain, farmers can still achieve good yields thanks to this innovation. The product is available for seeds (Nurseed) and in spray form (Nurspray) to apply directly onto the crops. It stimulates the plant’s metabolism, even when it is not raining, guarantees a vegetal osmoprotection and limits the water loss from plants in dry conditions – and even if the plant withers, it will recover quickly as soon as it rains. Thanks to Nurseed, harvest yields of 80% can be reached even in dry periods.

So far, Fyteko has mostly tested its innovations on wheat, but the results also look promising for maize and soya. The certification process is currently ongoing and Fyteko expects to commercialise the product in 2018.


People Occupational diseases

Caring about employees

Agfa has launched a ‘Work Ability House’ project, inspired by the model developed by Finnish professor Juhani Ilmarinen for ‘workable work’ – a highly relevant theme given the societal need for people to work for longer.

Work Ability is influenced by various factors which are visualized in a house with different levels that need to be in balance: health, competences, values and behaviour. Within Agfa, initiatives are being launched on all these levels.

The ground level – health (both physical and mental) – is a basic requirement for Work Ability. A think-tank has been set up consisting of employees of all levels and entities within the company and a number of projects have been launched in this area, such as:

  • Participating in ‘Tournée Minérale’, an initiative of the Foundation against Cancer and the on-line support line ‘ De Druglijn’, where Agfa had the second largest number of participants of all the organisations involved.
  • Lunch sessions on various health themes, such as cancer prevention, the relationship between health, wellbeing and happiness, etc.
  • A study on the impact of fruit-vending machines in the workplace.
  • A survey currently being carried out to ascertain the demand for a range of concierge services.

Promoting health and wellbeing with a limited budget is a challenging but fascinating experience. It injects new dynamics into a company, brings people together and motivates employees.


Prosperity Investments

Praxair : A new remote controlled plant

Products saving lives

Janssen Pharmaceutica : Big data from lab to patient

Planet Transport and logistics

Covestro: first chemical company to receive the ‘Lean & Green Star’ Award

In 2016, Covestro, a producer of base chemicals for the plastics industry in the port of Antwerp, became the first and only chemical company to receive the ‘Lean & Green Star’ for reducing the CO2 emissions and energy consumption of its logistics operations by 20% in five years.

Participating companies were required to detail the CO2 emissions of their logistics activities and submit a complete action plan to reduce emissions by 20% to the Flemish Institute of Logistics (VIL). Those action plans were then evaluated by the University of Brussels (VUB).

Covestro reached the objective through a number of actions:

  • A modal shift from barge to pipeline for the transport of sodium hydroxide
  • Investing in a new compressor for compressed air for the transport of pellets
  • Optimising the ship’s payload for delivering raw materials to a sister company in Tarragona, Spain
  • Adapting packaging to optimize the filling of containers and increase the payload for containers and trucks
  • Switching to electrical fork-lift trucks.

People Employee qualifications

Kabelwerk Eupen: Frontrunner in dual learning

People Occupational diseases

A sustainable work environment for BASF colleagues

Providing  a safe and sustainable work environment is a key priority for BASF.

As part of this, colleagues from different BASF sites in Belgium can now benefit from an e-bike concept, from total body work-out sessions or other sports initiatives, as well as fresh and healthy foods for lunch such as fruits and soup.

All these initiatives aim to help BASF employees remain in good health. An Employee Assistance Program has also been put in place to support BASF employees in the event of significant incidents in their private lives.

BASF believes that keeping its employees healthy is a sustainable way of steering a company which itself creates chemistry for a sustainable future.


Planet Transport and logistics

CargoStream, a large-scale bundling platform for cargo

Most shippers have objectives to improve cost, service and sustainability but lack the scale to shift some of their transportation needs to multimodal. CargoStream creates scale by bundling.

CargoStream is an independent Pan-European platform providing an interconnected, neutral and open network on which shippers, intermodal terminals, logistic service providers and optimizing trustees collaborate by synchronizing supply chain requirements with the right combination of transport modes. By this way, the participants aim to shift 50% of the EU transport volumes away from road.

The digital platform connects Shippers to Optimisers, Logistics Service Providers (LSP) and Multi-Modal terminals. Shippers communicate their regular shipping needs to the platform. The platform anonymises, aggregates over multiple shippers, and makes that data available to approved optimisers. Optimisers analyse, optimise, and trigger approved LSP’s to produce proposals that benefit all impacted shippers. The CargoStream Platform provides insights on your own lanes, existing intermodal lanes and availability of free slots on these lanes, potential collaboration to increase the frequency of intermodal lanes, or even the creation of new lanes.


Products saving lives

Tackling epilepsy: a strong commitment for UCB

Brain diseases affect one in six people around the world, with a wide range of conditions affecting the central nervous system, making unlocking the science behind them complicated.

UCB is committed to looking for new ways to help patients living with neurological diseases. One area in which UCB has been working for decades is epilepsy. While it is the most common serious neurological condition, it manifests itself in different ways in different patients. To date, more than 100 different epilepsy syndromes have been identified.

For patients, the types and frequency of seizure vary greatly. Some are short, like muscle jerks, while others are prolonged convulsions. For patients battling epilepsy, regaining control – and getting seizures under control – is often a primary goal.

The biopharmaceutical sector has come a long way in the treatment of epilepsy. Today, nearly half of patients newly diagnosed with the condition become seizure-free with their first anti-epileptic drug.

But for one in three patients, seizures remain uncontrolled because no available treatment works for them. These are the great challenges that UCB is continuing to tackle through industry-wide innovation and collaboration. Breakthrough science and technology can help unlock better ways to care for and treat patients living with epilepsy. Whether it is helping to find a therapy that works for an individual patient faster or finding new ways to treat the root cause of disease, UCB is committed to continuing to unlock the science and find new ways to improve the lives of patients.

Source: This article was originally published on


Planet Industrial waste

Innovation to reduce industrial waste at Eastman

Eastman Chemical Company in Ghent, striving for maximum sustainability, has developed a new type of catalyst for its hydrogenation processes. This not only reduces waste streams, but also makes the new process more energy efficient. The invention is applicable in other production installations and, as such, strengthens the position of the Ghent site within the international Eastman group.

In the past, the hydrogenation step in the synthesis process generated significant amounts of waste salt. With this new catalyst, this waste stream is drastically reduced and the byproducts can be recycled. The catalyst also enables milder processing processes, requiring less energy.

The new catalyst was developed entirely at the Ghent site. Based on a study of the literature, potential catalysts were screened and modified until a selectivity of more than 99% was reached. The team also developed the required modifications to the production process, including a new purification step. Eighteen months later, the new installation was operational. Both the catalyst and the adapted production process have been patented by Eastman Chemical Company.


Planet Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency agreements

The voluntary energy efficiency agreements signed by companies in Flanders and Wallonia envisage a continuous process of energy efficiency improvements. Following the success of the first generation of voluntary agreements (2003-2014) in improving energy efficiency while taking account of the industrial and economic reality, Belgium’s regional governments decided to continue with a second generation of accords (2014-2020), which were extended to include CO2 and energy efficiency improvements across the entire value chain of an enterprise.

Participants in these agreements commit themselves to work on energy efficient manufacturing and CO2 reduction by implementing all feasible and affordable measures, listed in energy plans that have to be drawn up every four years on the basis of a bottom-up, in-depth energy audit. Implementation of the measures and their impact are monitored annually. In Flanders, the agreements also require companies to implement an energy management system to increase awareness of energy efficiency throughout the enterprise. In Wallonia, entities involved in these agreements are required to carry out carbon footprint analyses of their activities (referred to as “CO2 mapping”).

As energy efficiency is a core priority for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector, many companies in the sector have signed up to these agreements. The chemicals industry accounts for 37% and 24% respectively of the total energy consumption covered by the voluntary agreements in Flanders and Wallonia.


Products saving energy & climate

Evonik – innovative solutions for cleaner mobility

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The automotive industry is facing enormous challenges to maximise its contribution to ensuring mobility becomes cleaner and more fuel-efficient. This requires many innovations, such as lightweight materials and more efficient power trains. Evonik, which specialises in high value added materials, is able to deliver innovative solutions to many of these challenges. One of many examples of this is the innovative rubber, silence Si 363®, for use in the tyre industry. In comparison to other existing silica/silane solutions, this product provides tyres with further reduced lower rolling resistance and avoids emissions of volatile organic components during the production and lifetime of tyres. A great innovation for more efficient, safer and cleaner driving.



Products saving energy & climate

Intelligent exterior paint inspired by the Namibian desert beetle

Sto is a producer of external façade insulation and coatings for buildings. These products have to withstand a growing number of challenges: since buildings are better isolated, condensation occurs on the outside more often; and due to changing climatic conditions in Belgium, with longer periods of high humidity, there is an increased risk of façades turning green.

To tackle this problem, Sto has developed a new exterior paint with a special structure which drains the water much faster – ‘StoColor Dryonic G’ – using bionics, in which biological methods and systems found in nature are applied to develop modern technology.

In this case, the carapace of the Namibian desert beetle served as inspiration. It can withstand extremely dry periods thanks to its special carapace, on which it can condense water to drink. With StoColor Dryonic, Sto succeeded in developing a special formulation through which hydrophobic dots form on a hydrophilic surface, similar to the desert beetle, which quickly drain away through the hydrophilic channels. This new paint composition reduces the time it takes for a façade to dry significantly, giving it less of a chance to develop algae or fungi.

Planet Organic emissions

Controlling atmospheric emissions with state-of-the art technology 

At UCB, the goal is to develop and produce medicines for people with severe diseases in the most environmentally and sustainable way possible. In innovation and in the development of new products, UCB considers not only the benefits of its products but also the potential health and environmental risks. The company aims to render its operations carbon neutral by 2030 and has invested €500,000 in a cryocondenser for the development of a new production process to avoid any atmospheric emissions of volatile organic components.

Cryocondensation is a recognised best available technique to remove solvent vapours from gaseous emissions, based on the principle of condensing gases into liquids by reducing the temperature of the gaseous emissions using a cooling medium such as liquid nitrogen, and thus eliminating atmospheric emissions. UCB has found a second use for the solvents recovered at the cryocondenser’s outlet, in a specialized treatment centre where they use the recovered liquids as a resource of chlorine. This illustrates UCB’s desire to manage its activities in a sustainable manner through a life-cycle approach.

Source : UCB Braine-l’Alleud

Products saving lives

Sanofi: Pioneering with a new generation of biological medicines

Prosperity Innovations

Catalisti catalysing innovation

Catalisti is the innovation cluster for chemistry and plastic in Flanders. Its mission is to deliver “a sustainable and competitive chemical and plastics-converting industry in Flanders achieved by an innovative power of world class”. It aims to do this by: 1) setting up new value chains; 2) transitioning to a sustainable economy; 3) clustering knowledge; 4) boosting innovation power.

To achieve these goals, Catalisti uses the ‘triple F’ principle:

The cluster organisation’s main activity is the setting up of cooperative innovation projects between companies in an open innovation approach. Catalisti also offers other forms of support to its company members, such as partner matching, strategic alignment or internationalisation.

Catalisti’s innovation agenda consists of four innovation programmes: Renewable Chemicals, Sidestream Valorization, Process Intensification and Advanced Sustainable Products.

Catalisti is a non-profit organisation based on a triple-helix structure (companies, research institutes and government), and is supported by the Flemish government as a “Spearhead Cluster”.


Prosperity Investments

Stimulating innovative start-ups through the Bluechem incubator

Bluechem is the new incubator for sustainable chemistry in Antwerp, aimed at supporting promising start-ups and innovation projects in sustainable chemistry to grow and become ever-more successful. The aim is to open the doors of the new incubator on the Blue Gate site in Antwerp in 2020.

Bluechem is a unique public-private partnership in which the private sector accounts for half of the investment required. The private partners are essenscia, Bopro (BSI) and DEME (DEC) and the public partners are the City of Antwerp, VITO, POM Antwerp, PMV and AG VESPA. The project has received 3.4 million euro in EU funding and 4 million euro from the City of Antwerp. essenscia is main shareholder running the Bluechem incubator, together with City of Antwerp, POM Antwerp and VITO.

We invest in BlueChem to contribute to the innovative and sustainable development of the chemical sector. Thanks to intense collaboration between large chemical companies, SMEs, start-ups and research institutes, Bluechem should become a catalyst for top innovations in which Flanders can make the difference. Promising ideas must get support so they can grow from experiments in the lab to successful companies,” says Wouter De Geest, chairman of essenscia.


Planet Sustainable value chains

Sustainable cleaning charter for detergents

Companies in the detergents industry have been publishing an annual sustainable development report since 2005, inspired by the results of the Charter for sustainable cleaning, with number of participating companies growing year-on-year. The Charter is verified by external auditors and 240 companies signed up to it in 2016, of which 98 are active in Belgium, representing more than 85% of the detergents market. The signatory companies have introduced procedures for sustainable development throughout the whole life cycle of their products, and have committed themselves to improve their sustainability performance continuously. The indicators are published on an annual basis, with additional criteria introduced in 2012 and 2015.

More information

Sustainable development indicators – extract of the Charter for sustainable cleaning (EU numbers)

*per ton produced

**number of accidents compared to the total number of working hours. , expressed in 100.0000 working hours/employes

The impact of the Charter is clear: since 2006, voluntary commitments made by signatory companies have resulted in energy reductions of 35% and CO2 emission reductions of more than 30%.

More information

The A.I.S.E. Charter for Sustainable Cleaning

Products saving energy & climate

High-performance insulation materials for the construction market.

Early in 2017, the Insulation Division of Recticel, a major producer of polyurethane (PU) foam, launched a breakthrough technology for producing rigid polyurethane insulation boards with excellent thermal insulation, offering a 13% better insulation performance than existing products. This scientific breakthrough, called Xentro® technology, is commercialised in cavity and floor applications under the product names Eurowall® Xentro® and Eurofloor® Xentro®.

This technology, which addresses the demand for energy-efficient buildings and high-performing insulation materials for the construction market, is a significant breakthrough in the world of PU, and reinforces Recticel’s position as a leader in in high-performance insulation solutions for the construction market. Rigid PU insulation boards with Xentro® technology also enable more freedom in design for both new builds and refurbishment projects. The new Xentro® products are, in the first instance, produced in Wevelgem.


Products Process safety

essenscia Safety Engineering Chair at KU Leuven to support safe processes

The essenscia Safety Engineering Chair supports KU Leuven’s Masters’ Safety Engineering programme. The chair was inaugurated at KU Leuven on 13 November 2009 and renewed on 7 November 2014.

The Masters in Safety Engineering meets the existing needs and growing demand for safety experts coming from society and industry.

One of its goals is to promote high-quality education in the field of industrial process safety and it is internationally oriented. The programme trains students in prevention policy and safety management systems; the safety of products, processes and installations; qualitative risk analysis techniques; and fire and explosion safety.

The programme is structured on a modular basis, with a common compulsory part and a part in which students may choose between two options:

-Process Safety: students interested mainly in the technical aspects of safety may select this option, which is directed towards the study of safe and reliable plant operation.

-Prevention: this option includes non-technical aspects, refers to the local Belgian context and leads to the Certificaat Preventieadviseur Niveau 1 as defined by Belgian law.

A condensed 1 week ‘Advanced master class on process safety’ is also available.


Products saving natural resources

Sabert : Less waste, better packaging

People Employee qualifications

essenscia fully supporting the STEM Charter

In 2015, essenscia vlaanderen, together with five companies in the sector, signed the STEM Charter in the presence of Minister of Education, Hilde Crevits and Minister of Economy and Innovation, Philippe Muyters. The scientific and technical expertise of its employees is one of the most important assets of the Belgian chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry, and it is crucial for the future of the sector to attract even more talented and creative youngsters to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Through the STEM Charter – an initiative of the STEM Platform – government, knowledge centres, social partners, sector organisations and the education and business worlds are working together to inspire young people to choose STEM subjects. Companies such as Agfa Materials, Air Liquide, Allnex, BASF Antwerp, Covestro, Deceuninck, Eastman Chemical Company, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Nippon Shokubai Europe, Proviron, Solvay and VYNOVA are also supporting the Charter.

People Community engagements

Community Council at Agfa-Gevaert for over 20 years

In 1995, Agfa-Gevaert established a Community Council – a formal and permanent consultative body between the company, local government and a delegation of neighbourhood residents. The mayor of Mortsel and the director of the company lead the meeting, and all the streets and districts surrounding the company are represented by a delegate or spokesman.

Agfa-Gevaert’s Environmental Department organises a meeting of the Community Council at least once a year. Any topic of importance to local residents can be addressed, and is discussed in an open and calm atmosphere.


People Employee qualifications

Study on ‘The Future of Jobs in Chemistry and Life Sciences’

Will the number of jobs increase or decrease as a result of the ongoing digitalization in the chemical and life sciences industry? It’s not a question of more or less jobs. Automatization and robotization will principally have disruptive effects on the job content. As a consequence, employees and managers will need more specific competences. Tailormade training programmes to prepare the personnel for these jobs of the future will therefore be the big challenge for both the education system and the HR policy in the companies.

This is the summarized conclusion of ‘The Future of Jobs in Chemistry and Life Sciences’, a sector-specific study of professor Ans De Vos of the Antwerp Management School (AMS), commissioned by essenscia in 2016. The study was conducted in close collaboration with 50 experts from 25 different chemical and pharmaceutical companies in Flanders. The researchers gathered valuable and direct feedback during four interactive workshops.

The key findings of this study on the impact of the fourth industrial revolution give a more nuanced view on a crucial debate which is typically being dominated by generalities and a polarizing undertone. The study underlines that a basic technical knowledge remains essential, but the importance of social skills will certainly increase. So there is a need for experts who are all-rounders at the same time. Moreover, profound digital skills are a must for each employee, but digital natives can help their colleagues in making this transition. The study also points out specific recommendations for the educational system. That needs to be more practice-orientated, even on the university level, and has to focus more on the development of soft skills like teamwork.

In brief, the current era of big data and Industry 4.0, offer several opportunities to make jobs more efficient and more sustainable.

Discover the full report >


Prosperity Innovations

Rewarding sustainable innovations: the essenscia Innovation Award

Successful innovations attract investments, create new jobs and thus contribute to the Belgian economy. The chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector is highly innovative and every other year, essenscia’s Innovation Award recognises ground-breaking developments by international companies as well as SMEs, spin-offs or renowned research centres. The award aims to highlight innovations that improve people’s quality of life and contribute to a more sustainable future while protecting intellectual property.

In 2016, the third edition of the Innovation Award selected a Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) project as winner out of 40 excellent entries . H.R.H Princess Astrid handed over the award and a cheque of €30,000 to the Wavre-based biopharmaceutical giant for the development of a potential vaccine against shingles.

Products saving lives

IRE ELiT: A New Era for Cancer Imaging

Prosperity Investments

Promoting Belgium’s chemistry and life sciences industry abroad

Its central position at the heart of Europe, the high levels of education among its employees and the productivity of its workforce, the energy efficiency of its production installations, the high quality of its scientific research, and its extensive network of universities and knowledge institutions – each of these are significant assets for the chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector in Belgium.

Twelve of the world’s 15 largest chemical companies operate a production facility in the country. Along with numerous home-grown SMEs, these multinational companies are turning Belgium into the largest chemicals and pharma cluster in Europe.

Thanks to intensive collaboration with the regional investment and export agencies Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), Walloon Export Agency (Awex) and Brussels Invest & Export, essenscia is promoting these assets to potential trading partners during various economic and princely missions, including:

  • Organising a Chemistry Power Breakfast and a Power Lunch Biopharma in Vancouver during the princely mission to West Canada (October 2015).
  • Participating, as a special guest, in a federal government mission to Japan (October 2016). During this visit, essenscia took part in an investment lunch with top CEOs from the chemicals industry to extol Belgium’s virtues as an investment location.
  • Participating in a federal government economic mission to Texas (December 2016), with a dedicated seminar to promote Belgium as a leading chemicals cluster in Europe and a high-level Power Lunch highlighting Belgium’s biopharma valley.
People Anti-trust and anti-corruption compliance

Training employees in values and expectations

At Martin Mathys, a subsidiary of RPM International Inc, all employees are trained in the ‘Values and Expectations of 168’. The number 168 refers to the number of hours in a week, but also much more than that: it exemplifies the company’s commitment to ethical business conduct. It is about using that time to do the right things, in the right way and for the right reasons. The training course is supported by a reference brochure summarizing the company’s values, giving examples and guidelines on how to act. It reflects the commitment to do business in an ethical way, in line with anti-trust & anti-competition legislation and health & safety regulations. Employees also have access to a hot line to call for further advice if they need it.



Products saving natural resources

Recticel & Covestro: CO2 as a raw material inmattresses

Planet Energy consumption

Qpinch: Industrial energy from waste heat

Social affairs high on the European agenda

In 2016, Yves Verschueren, Managing Director of essenscia Belgium, was elected President of the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG), which represents the chemicals, pharmaceutical, rubber and plastics industry and is a key stakeholder and sectoral social partner at EU level. This gives essenscia the opportunity to reinforce dialogue between social partners to further develop the chemicals industry in Europe.

In June 2017, Yves Verschueren and Michael Vassiliadis, president of industriAll European Trade Union, signed the “European Framework of action on sustainable employment and career development”, which aims to reinforce the social dialogue at EU level. This framework includes a toolbox with best practices within the sector from different EU Member States on issues such as how to attract young talent, ensure well-being at work, foster work-life balance, tackle age management issues, ensure healthy workplaces and promote lifelong learning. On this occasion, ECEG and industriAll also signed a joint declaration on BREXIT, to feed into the negotiations with the aim of strengthening the European chemical industry.

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