Featured in

1.5°C Business Leadership

Solutions, strategies, and mindsets for our only future.


Covestro uses waste CO2 from other industrial processes as a chemical feedstock for manufacturing plastic foams.

Covestro and their partners have developed a chemical process enabling them to convert waste CO2 into a raw material for the manufacture of plastics and foams. The company has engineered a new catalyst capable of binding CO2 into polyols, which are the building blocks of polyurethane foam – a flexible plastic foam commonly used in mattresses and upholstery. 

We have succeeded in turning a waste gas that is potentially harmful to the climate into a useful raw material.

Dr. Markus Steilemann – CEO, Covestro AG

The process uses less energy than the conventional petroleum-based production of polyurethane polyols. The CO2 used in the production process is a waste product from a neighbouring plant directly connected to Covestro’s plant.

The company currently manufactures a commercial polyurethane foam with a CO2-based content of 20%, resulting in a 20% reduction in the petrochemicals used in the production process. Their Dormagen factory in Germany was the first to install the technology to make foams, but they intend to produce rubber and synthetic fibres using a similar process in the future too.

In order to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we must pursue both rapid emissions reductions and carbon removal. Covestro’s Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) technology is a strong example that contributes to achieving a net-zero economy.

Plastic production has increased from 15 million metric tons in 1964 to 311 million metric tons in 2014, with production expected to double over the next 20 years. Covestro’s technology converts CO2 into useful raw material with transformative potential for large-scale and more sustainable manufacturing of plastics.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Using CO2 as a chemical feedstock is more energy-efficient than the petrochemical processing of petroleum, creating a retrofit for the plastics industry which is more sustainable.

Responsible consumption and production

Partially replacing the petroleum-based components of plastics with CO2-based components makes the mattress industry less dependent on nonrenewable and polluting oil.

Climate action

When using CO2 as chemical feedstock, Covestro avoids 2.7 kg of CO2 per kg of polyols produced.

Read more from the 1.5°C Business Leadership report