World market leaders take climate protection seriously


New initiative to replace fossil with renewable carbon wants to change the foundation of the chemical industry

Eleven leading companies from six countries founded the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) in September 2020 under the leadership of nova-Institute (Germany). The aim of the initiative is to support and speed up the transition from fossil carbon to renewable carbon for all organic chemicals and materials. More than 100 well-known experts support the initiative personally. Companies, start-ups and institutes are welcome to join the initiative as a member. 

The first eleven pioneer companies to become a member of the RCI and form the Core Advisory Board are: Beiersdorf (Germany), Cosun Beet Company (The Netherlands), Covestro (Germany), Henkel (Germany), LanzaTech (USA), Lenzing (Austria), NESTE (Finland), SHV Energy (The Netherlands), Stahl (The Netherlands), Unilever (UK) and UPM (Finland).

The Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI) addresses the core problem of climate change, which is largely related to extracting and using additional fossil carbon from the ground. The vision is stated clearly: By 2050, fossil carbon shall be completely substituted by renewable carbon, which is carbon from alternative sources: biomass, direct CO2 utilisation and recycling. The founders are convinced that this is the only way for chemicals, plastics and other organic materials to become more sustainable, more climate-friendly and part of the circular economy – part of the future. 

The Renewable Carbon Initiative urges the industry to go beyond just using renewable energy. All fossil carbon use has to end, as the carbon contained in the molecules of organic chemicals and materials is prone to end up in the atmosphere sooner or later. Only a full phase-out of fossil carbon will help to prevent a further increase in CO2 concentrations. Consequently, companies are encouraged to focus on phasing out fossil resources and to use renewable carbon instead.

The members of the RCI share and support this vision and will work together on this goal. The initiative will drive this message, initiating further actions by bringing stakeholders together, providing information and shaping policy to strive for a climate-neutral circular economy.

Michael Carus, CEO of nova-Institute and head of the Renewable Carbon Initiative: “This is about a fundamental change in the chemical industry. Just as the energy industry is being converted to renewable energies, so renewable carbon will become the new foundation of the future chemical and material industry. The initiative starts today and will be visibly present from now on. We want to accelerate the change.”

Over the next couple weeks, the Renewable Carbon Initiative will publish more information on its aims and benefits via a wide range of social media activities. This includes a website and social media presence, a poster, cartoons and video-clips to educate companies and end users about sustainable options and support action. 

The main avenues on which the initiative wants to deliver change are threefold. One, the initiative strives to create cross-industry platforms that will demonstrate feasibility of renewable carbon in tangible activities. 

Two, one main target will be to advocate for legislation, taxation and regulation changes to give renewable carbon a level commercial playing field to play on. 

Finally, the third avenue will be to create a wider pull for sustainable options by raising awareness and understanding of renewable carbon level amongst the business community and the wider public.

Companies looking for sustainable chemical and material solutions are welcome to join and profit from the support of the initiative. Special conditions for SMEs, start-ups, research institutes and individual consultants are available. Applications can be submitted on the website

The Renewable Carbon Initiative has started promising and already counts on a powerful advisory board of eleven international member companies and the personal support of more than 100 industry experts. The initiative hopes to attract and gain many additional members and supporters in the upcoming months to keep the strong momentum of the initiative and to work towards a goal that is as complex as it is simple: renewable energy and renewable carbon for a sustainable future.

This is what the founding members have to say:


“We are very happy to take another step towards climate action as a member of the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI).”

Beiersdorf AG is a leading provider of innovative, high-quality skin care products and has more than 135 years of experience in this market segment. 


“As one of the greenest and most innovative sugar beet processors, Cosun Beet Company is very enthusiastic about the Renewable Carbon Initiative, and a firm believer of working together towards a fossil free world”.

Cosun Beet Company is one of the greenest, most innovative and most successful sugar beet processor in the world. We are part of Royal Cosun, a cooperative of 9000 Dutch sugar beet farmers.


“At Covestro, we are convinced that through partnerships and initiatives like the RCI, we can accelerate the transition towards a GHG neutral chemical industry and achieve the switch to a fossil-free raw material base for our operations.”

Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies and intends under the corporate vision “We will be fully circular” to fully align its entire business to the circular economy concept.


“We strongly support the Renewable Carbon Initiative as an outstanding enabler to replace all fossil-based material. Proud to be part of it. It is in perfect alignment with our commitment to become climate positive and our engagement for a circular economy.”

Henkel is a leader in sustainability in the business of adhesive technologies, beauty care and laundry & home care. We aim to pioneer with new solutions for sustainable development while continuing to shape our business responsibly and increase our economic success.


“We must accelerate the implementation of all new approaches to support our war on carbon and the RCI embodies this by bringing together all sustainable solutions to reduce, recycled and reuse carbon!”

Carbon recycling company, LanzaTech is a global leader in gas fermentation, making sustainable fuels and chemicals via biological conversion of waste carbon emissions, including industrial off-gases.


“Lenzing supports the Renewable Carbon Initiative as it is on the one hand just the right thing to do and on the other fully in line with our corporate strategy – it will be an important nucleus for greening the textile and nonwovens value chains.”

Lenzing is a performance materials company that turns CO2 and sunlight into highly functional, emotional and aesthetic products.


“By becoming a member of the Renewable Carbon Initiative, Neste wishes to promote the concept of replacing virgin fossil oil with renewable and circular carbon solutions in order to accelerate the necessary transformation in the materials business.”

Neste creates sustainable solutions for transport, business, and consumer needs. Our wide range of renewable products enable our customers to reduce climate emissions. We are the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, introducing renewable and circular solutions also to the polymers and chemicals industries.


“Industry has to go beyond using renewable energy. All fossil carbon use has to end, as the carbon contained in the molecules of chemicals and plastics is prone to end up in the atmosphere sooner or later. Only a full phase-out of fossil carbon will help to prevent a further increase in CO2 concentrations.” 

nova-Institut für politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH is a private and independent research institute, offering research and consultancy with a focus on the transition of the chemical and material industry to renewable carbon. Its subjects include feedstock, technologies and markets, economy and policy, sustainability, communication and strategy development.


“SHV Energy has set a bold ambition that by 2040, 100% of our energy products will be from renewable, biobased- or recycled- carbon sources.  We are therefore proud to be a member and fully aligned with the aims of the Recycled Carbon Initiative.” 

SHV Energy is a leading global distributor of off-grid energy such as LPG and LNG and proud of our role as pioneer in bio based and renewable energy solutions such as bioLPG (also known as renewable propane).


„Renewable Carbon is the key to sustainable chemistry. By establishing it as a strategic foundation of our business, we can succeed in reducing our own environmental impact and, more importantly, that of our customers too.”

Stahl creates the chemistry behind many different everyday materials, like footwear, clothing, cars and home furnishing. Stahl’s processing and specialty coatings technology provide the properties that make these materials last longer, feel softer, resist scratching, defuse heat, and be more sustainable.


“Unilever is excited to join the Renewable Carbon Initiative, and engage with visionary businesses and innovators who share our desire to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels, including as a feedstock for chemicals. We ambition to make 100% of the organic chemicals in Unilever’s cleaning brands from renewable and recycled carbon sources by 2030.”

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day.


„Renewable carbon from sustainable sources will accelerate the transformation of the chemical industry and offer brand owners and material producers exciting new opportunities for improving their environmental performance.”

UPM. For a future beyond fossils – made of forests.

Latest news

Declaration 2020

The World Bioeconomy Forum Declaration 2020 10 September, Ruka, Finland In September 2019, the board members of the World Bioeconomy Forum (WCBEF) produced the WCBEF

Read More »