Biotechnology for sustainable product development

Biotechnology for sustainable product development

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The depletion of raw materials is a worldwide concern and consequence of the way we use our natural resources. Human overfish, overharvest and we are emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb. If we want to continue living as we do today, and enable future generations to do the same, we need to change. 


Biotechnology is the gamechanger

What is biotechnology? According to the OECD, biotechnology is defined as the application of science and technology to living organisms as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services.

A solution is to collectively redesign our materials, processes and products. Moving away from finite feedstock and switching to, in our case, renewable, restorative and regenerative chemistry chemicals. In many cases this means switching to bio-based materials, materials based on captured carbon or materials that contain recycled content. By working together on innovative responsible solutions that are designed on the biotechnology principles, we can change the impact on the environment considerably.

An example is Proviera® - Probiotics for Leather. In general petrol-based chemistry (derived from finite petroleum and natural gas sources) have been desired and used for its specific characteristics; performance, price and availability. With a growing concern and awareness of the downsides of these finite sources, however, opportunities arise for renewable and more sustainable alternatives. Proviera® - Probiotics for Leather for instance. Its biochemicals are derived from probiotic cultures and renewable natural raw ingredients. According the principles of biotechnology, Proviera breaks down and processes – in the way nature would do – hides and skins and turns them into leather, helping tanners implement sustainable strategies by reducing the need for synthetic chemicals and adding value to tanning by-products.


Measure and assess to evaluate product impact

The process of designing our products includes continuously evaluating their total impact. We use internationally standardized methods that measure the impact of our products and processes on health, safety and the environment, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – a methodology that measures the impact of any product on the environment over its lifetime, ASTM D6866 (to define bio-based content) and VDA 278 (emission test).

Stahl’s bio-based technology portfolio includes:


When is a product bio-based?

To define when a product is bio-based, we use the definition of ASTM D6866. This methodology tests products on their modern bio-based (organic) content. It looks both at the percentage of bio-based materials in the product as how ‘old’ the used materials are. A product is bio-based when it contains 20% bio-based materials or more. ASTM D6866 bio-based content computation only considers the total organic carbon content, not product weight; the amount of water is taken out before measuring the bio-based content. 



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Biotechnology for sustainable product development
John Fletcher
Group Director Marketing, Communications & Sustainability