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.

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.


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

COSUN BEET COMPANY: “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”.

COVESTRO: “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.”

HENKEL: “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.”

LANZATECH: “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!”

LENZING: “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.”

NESTE: “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.”

NOVA-INSTITUT: “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.” 

SHV ENERGY: “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.”

STAHL: “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.”

UNILEVER: “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.”

UPM: “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.”