VCI honours the award winners of the Responsible Care competition 2018

Fully in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

Today, four chemical companies received the Responsible Care Award of the German chemical industry association (VCI) – for their projects as exemplary contributions to the sustainability goals of the United Nations (UN). The award ceremony took place in Ludwigshafen. First prize winners are BERLIN-CHEMIE AG (Berlin), H&R GmbH & Co. KGaA (Hamburg) and Worlée-Chemie GmbH, Lauenburg. The special mid-sized company award went to CHT Germany GmbH, Tübingen.

The award winners ot the Responsible Care Competition 2018, flanked by the incoming VCI president Hans Van Bylen (on the very left) and by the leaving VCI president Kurt Bock (on the very right). - Photo: © VCI/Darchinger
The award winners ot the Responsible Care Competition 2018, flanked by the incoming VCI president Hans Van Bylen (on the very left) and by the leaving VCI president Kurt Bock (on the very right). - Photo: © VCI/Darchinger

The motto of the Responsible Care competition 2018 was “Our contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. The Responsible Care programme is an integral part of Chemistry3, the industry’s sustainability initiative. In view of the wide range of contestant projects, the jury of independent experts agreed to award for the first time three first prizes of equal standing. Furthermore, with the special mid-sized company award the VCI expressed for the fourth time its appreciation for a project by an enterprise of that size.

The winner of one of the first prizes is BERLIN-CHEMIE AG (Berlin) for the project “Social Enterprise Department”. This project is a contribution to the UN SDG 8 “Decent Work and Economic Growth”. Already back in 1978 VEB Berlin-Chemie set up a “Social Enterprise Department” where disabled people were doing valuable work. Meanwhile, this department has 31 employees and four supervisors. Thanks to expert support and a large number of events and activities, the “Social Enterprise Department” has not only established itself as a simple place of work, but has also become a centre for social contacts, culture and communication for many employees. It is perfectly integrated in the company due to many connections to other areas. The project was initiated by employees and has now been in existence for over four decades, and all this convinced the jury.

Another first prize went to H&R GmbH & Co. KGaA at its Hamburg site. The project “Dynamic hydrogen electrolysis plant” contributes to the UN SDG 13 “Climate Action” and won over both the local jury of the VCI regional association North East and the nationwide jury. By implementing the plant, the company now operates the world’s biggest dynamic hydrogen electrolysis plant with PEM technology (PEM = Protone Exchange Membrane). “Dynamic” means that the plant can flexibly control and adapt its power intake to the present situation of the electricity market. For example, if strong winds result in wind turbines producing more power than the German grid can absorb at that moment, the plant enables an interim storage of some of the eco-electricity and thus helps stabilizing the grid. Moreover, the construction of the described plant makes H&R fully self-sufficient for the hydrogen needed in the production processes of their specialty refinery. By adding electricity, the plant disintegrates water into oxygen and hydrogen. The nationwide jury was impressed by the fact that the use of hydrogen as a “green raw material” reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 2,500 tonnes per year, since the hydrogen no longer needs to be transported by truck.

Another first prize was awarded to Worlée-Chemie GmbH (Lauenburg) for the project “Value chain based on sustainable and regionally produced renewable raw materials” as a contribution to the UN SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”. Worlée-Chemie emphasised already in the past its commitment to a sustainable production of renewable raw materials through a cooperation with the Leuphana University (Lüneburg). Together with its partner DAW, Worlée are now working on a project to build a sustainable value chain based on indigenous camelina. This project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. For the production of camelina oil, from which an alkyd resin emulsion for the subsequent manufacture of wood care products is obtained, the company has established a large-scale mixed crop cultivation of peas and camelina. This results in fewer weeds, the camelina acts as a climbing aid for the peas, and the use of insecticides can be reduced. Flowering camelina also provides nourishment for endangered insect species. It is worth noting that mixed crop cultivation avoids the competition with agricultural areas for food production. Substituting mineral oil by a sustainable raw material is an important step in sustainable consumption. These extra effects have positive ecological impacts which were greatly valued by the jury.

CHT Germany GmbH (Tübingen) is the winner of the special mid-sized company award for the project “Reduction of the use of critical raw materials in the CHT Group”. With this, the enterprise makes contributions to the UN SDGs 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure” and 15 “Life on Land”. In 2015, CHT launched worldwide an automated process to evaluate all raw materials used. The company has already substituted “critical substances” which, for example, fall into the categories carcinogenic, germ cell mutagenic, toxic to reproduction and sensitising or “substances of very high concern” or will do so in the future. For instance, this process introduced by CHT resulted in 2017 in the production of more than 3,000 tonnes of silicones that no longer contain “critical by-products”, followed by investments in a distillation plant. Furthermore, the use of toxic diethylene glycol and formaldehyde-based cross-linkers and binders will be discontinued from 2020. The jury found it impressive that a mid-sized company takes a forward-looking stance in its commitment to environmental protection and occupational health and safety, additionally to legal requirements.

Background information about the competition

The VCI’s Responsible Care competition starts at the regional level where 57 candidate projects were submitted to the VCI regional associations in 2018. The regional winners automatically take part in the nationwide competition.

Award decisions at the national level were made by an independent jury with seven members: Dr Winfried Horstmann (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), Dr Michael Reubold (CHEManager magazine), Xaver Schmidt (Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union), Professor Dr Ferdinand Schüth (Max-Planck-Institute for Carbon Research), Dr Helge Wendenburg (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety). The VCI was represented by director-general Dr Utz Tillmann and executive director science, technical and environmental affairs Dr Gerd Romanowski.

Please note:
A photo of the Responsible Care award winners 2018 is available in high resolution in the download section at the top of this page.


The VCI represents the politico-economic interests of around 1,700 German chemical companies and German subsidiaries of foreign businesses. For this purpose, the VCI is in contact with politicians, public authorities, other industries, science and media.The VCI stands for over 90 percent of the chemical industry in Germany. In 2017 the German chemical industry realised sales of more than 195 billion euros and employed around 453,000 staff.

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Monika von Zedlitz

E-Mail: zedlitz@vci.de