VCI honours the award winners of the Responsible Care competition 2017

Chemical companies successfully put into practice their ideas for the circular economy

Exemplary projects for the circular economy are in the spotlight: The German chemical industry association VCI issued in Frankfurt the awards for altogether four outstanding achievements by member companies. The most recent Responsible Care competition was under the motto: “We have good ideas for the circular economy”. For the third time, a special project from a mid-sized chemical company received an award too.

© VCI/Darchinger

The first prize 2017 went to 3M Deutschland GmbH/Dyneon GmbH (Burgkirchen) for the project “Up-cycling of fully fluorinated plastics – Circular Integration to closing the loop”. In the first pilot plant worldwide, fluoropolymers can be recycled in a thermal process (pyrolysis). In the Burgkirchen plant, annually up to 500 tonnes of fully fluorinated plastic wastes can be converted into tetrafluoroethene monomers – as a raw material for the production of new fluoro-polymers. The jury complimented the company on this novel recycling method that closes the fluoropolymer loop. The reasoning: “This method not only avoids waste and CO2 streams, it also offers an alternative source of fluorspar.”

The second prize was awarded to Aurubis AG (Lünen) and Grillo-Werke AG (Duisburg) for their shared project “Closing the loop – Joint materials loop of Aurubis and Grillo-Werke”. Using a special recycling method (Kayser Recycling System/KRS), Aurubis processes copper-containing secondary raw materials with numerous accompanying elements. During this method, a zinc-containing filter dust results, which contains further valuable metals like copper, tin and lead. Grillo-Werke uses the the filter dust as raw material for the production of zinc sulphate. Zinc sulphate is, inter alia, a trace element carrier in the feedstuff and fertilizer industry. When extracting zink in the Grillo process, a residual material is obtained which contains copper, zinc and lead – now in an enriched form. Aurubis takes back this residue for its own production plants, uses these metals in products and thus closes the loop. The jury was impressed by the creation of this integrated system (“Verbund”) across several sites: “It helps companies save resources and safeguard jobs. The project can serve as a model for other businesses.”

AkzoNobel Industrial Chemicals GmbH (Bitterfeld) fetched the third prize 2017 with the project “Residue-free chlorine production is the backbone of the existing integrated structures at the Chemical Park Bitterfeld Wolfen – AkzoNobel as a cornerstone of a reliable and sustainable chemical production”. The project describes integrated structures for chemical products (“Stoffverbund”), involving a total of four companies: The input raw brine is run in a residue-free brine loop. First of all, Akzo Nobel produces – by way of electrolysis – sodium hydroxide, chlorine and hydrogen. Before hydrogen is further processed with chlorine, Linde AG purifies the former and feeds surplus quantities into its own hydrogen grid. Evonik Industries AG uses hydrogen chloride from AkzoNobel to produce silicon tetrachloride. Next, Heraeus Quarzglass GmbH & Co.KG further processes the latter input into premium synthetic quartz glass. This company also washes the chlorine-containing waste gas stream from this process with sodium hydroxide supplied by AkzoNobel. In doing so, a salt solution is generated which is finally returned into the raw brine stream – closing the loop. It did not take long to convince the jury of this “Verbund” project: “It is a residue-free brine loop that involves as many as four companies and safeguards an industry location.”

The prize for mid-sized companies went to Mainsite GmbH & Co. KG (Obernburg) for the project “Construction of a sewage sludge recovery plant for the recycling of zinc and the thermal recovery of sewage sludges”. In the past, zinc-containing waste waters from the Industrie Center Obernburg were disposed in a joint sewage plant of Mainsite and the sewage treatment association Abwasserzweckverband Main-Mömling-Elsava. The obtained sewage sludges were dried and then thermally recovered in a coal power station. The search for a more sustainable approach was successful: Mainsite and Abwasserzweckverband built a pipeline for liquid sewage sludge from the joint sewage plant to the recovery facility at the Industrie Center Obernburg, and they constructed an incineration plant for the thermal pre-treatment of sewage sludges where these are reduced to one third of the initial volume. Zinc is recovered from the residues and reprocessed. From the jury’s perspective, the decisive point is that the new approach makes transports unnecessary. Moreover, energy is saved regarding the drying of sewage sludges and a recovery possibility is created.

The Responsible Care competition is organised by the VCI’s regional associations. The award winners 2017 were picked from a total of 35 candidate projects. The regional winners automatically take part in the nationwide competition at German federal level.


The award decisions were made by an independent jury: Egbert Biermann (Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union), Dr. Michael Reubold (editorial office of CHEManager), Dr. Wolfgang Scheremet (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), Professor Dr. Ferdinand Schüth (Max-Planck-Institute for Carbon Research), Dr. Helge Wendenburg (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety). The VCI was represented by director-general Dr. Utz Tillmann and executive director science, technical and environmental affairs Dr. Gerd Romanowski.

About Responsible Care

Responsible Care is an international initiative of the chemical industry, with the goal of improving the protection of humans and environment additionally to existing provisions. The annual competition is a contribution to Chemie3, the German chemical industry’s sustainability initiative.

Please note:
From 15.00 hrs, a photo of the Responsible Care award winners 2017 is available for download in the download section at the top of this page.

A video about the projects of the Responsible Care award winners 2017 is on YouTube (only in German language) - watch here!

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 2016 the German chemical industry realised sales of around 185 billion euros and employed over 447,000 staff.

Contact: VCI Press Dept., Phone: +49 69 2556-1496, E-Mail: and

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M.A. Monika von Zedlitz