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Sustainability and Pandora’s box


Inga Herrmann, Head of Lubricants Department, VSI, and Sebastian Dörr, Lubtrading GmbH


There can hardly be a day goes by when we don’t read or hear the words ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability’ but what do those words actually mean on a level that is relevant to companies in the lubricants industry? Even accelerated by the pandemic the European Union’s plans for post-pandemic economic recovery are based on a philosophy of “rebuild better and greener.” The goal is to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.


NaSch Initiative of VSI Already in 2016, the VSI (Verband Schmierstoffe- Industrie e.V. / German association for lubricants manufacturers) set up a sustainability taskforce (VSI NaSch) consisting of 6 member companies to set up and define sustainability aspects and key figures of carbon footprint of products targeting to implement a common standard. At that time, the focus was mainly at own production site and basic formulations.


Now in 2021, the VSI NaSch group is working in close collaboration with the UEIL Sustainability Committee on a sustainability concept for the European lubricants industry.


36 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.162 APRIL 2021


What are the topics and challenges we are dealing with? First and foremost, we need to make sure that we all have the same understanding of the same wordings and phrases! Then we have to agree on methodology and data sources we are using – this process is well under way, but still needs time...


Sustainable Benefits – lubricants are part of the solution! Lubricants reduce friction, heat and wear and tear between mechanical components: Reduced energy consumption and increased equipment lifetime saves resources and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG).


High performance lubes require higher effort in pre chain values (for example polyalphaolefins instead of simple Group I base oil) and eventually in production, but the higher specific carbon footprint in most of those cases pays back in use by: longer drain intervals, reduced lubricant consumption and longer engine lifetime; the most significant effect is energy saving in operation. Even just 1% energy saving can mean a 100-fold saving in manufacturing cost!


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