Avertana gains recognition for innovative extraction process
At the 2019 IChemE Global Awards, Avertana won in the sustainability category for its chemical engineering process of extracting minerals from industrial waste.
Announcing its win on the company’s website, Auckland-based Avertana was pleased to accept the honour from what it called the “world’s most prestigious chemical engineering awards”. The innovative extraction process developed by Avertana “uses carbon-free inorganic chemistry to turn waste into valuable raw materials, with nothing left over. It does this cost effectively and with attractive economic returns”.
Using this process, the company has been able to converge on four key raw materials: titanium dioxide, gypsum, alum, and epsom salts, each with important industrial applications in construction, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Recognising that waste can be a raw material in and of itself, Avertana has demonstrated to the industry that profits can be made from a product previously deemed unwanted or unusable.
It is with pioneering improvements like this that other companies in the raw materials sector can improve both their sustainability and profitability.
Sustainability best practices for the raw materials sector
Reduced use of fossil fuels: Plastic materials have conventionally been produced from a fossil fuel base, particularly petroleum, but this is not the only option available. According to research conducted by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, “plastics can also be produced with plant-based raw materials such as maize stalks or sugar beets”. Current industry refinery processes are advanced enough to make all plastics biobased instead, although, as of a survey conducted in 2014, only 0.2% of global polymer companies exploit this potential.
Maintaining water supplies: Water is an essential part of the chemical extraction process. Fresh water is used by processing plants for vital daily functions, such as diluting, cooling, and transporting chemical products. The resulting fluid is then considered an unusable waste product. Avertana has already demonstrated an effective, environmentally-conscious method of using this waste as a resource, but best practices in the industry also recommend purification to allow reuse, desalination, and use in hydroelectric power generation to ensure water is as sustainably used as possible.
Adoption of the circular economy: Outlined by Accenture, the circular economy model seeks to break the ‘one-use’ trend regarding production resources and focus investment on products, components, and materials that can be reused wherever possible. Opportunities in this vein include using materials that are comfortably recyclable and manufacturing hardier components that can withstand frequent reuse/reapplication. Using this model, companies will reap higher utility and value from their operations and consume less energy.
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Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.