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Discontinued Operations

Business Unit is included under discontinued operations as Clariant is currently in the process of divesting this unit. The business provides superior-quality organic pigments, pigment preparations, and dyes to provide color in a wide variety of product applications. Its products enable customers to differentiate themselves with market-leading and innovative offerings that support the circular economy through enhanced recyclability.


1. Planned divestment of Pigments business in 2021

While Clariant completed the divestment of its Business Unit in July 2020, the sale of Business Unit is expected to reach completion by 2021.

2. Responding to the pandemic

During the pandemic, Business Unit Pigments proved to be a reliable supplier for its customers by leveraging its global footprint and shifting production among sites. Although the pandemic caused a significant drop in demand for pigments, particularly in the automotive industry, demand from the printing, packaging, and home care industries remained stable.

3. Benefitting from the demand for sustainable and recyclable products

The Business Unit maintains close relationships with its customers to understand their needs. As a result, BU Pigments developed services and colorants to support its customers’ commitments to the circular economy. An example is the setup of a range of pigments and dyes suitable for the coloration of biopolymers. Particular focus was put on supporting companies that are signatories to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment led by the Ellen McArthur Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) unites businesses, governments, and other organizations with a common vision to address plastic pollution at its source. Signatories include companies that represent 20% of all packaging produced globally.

Heightened awareness and regulations regarding microplastics represent another current megatrend. It affects, among others, manufacturers of fertilizers and plant protection products. In 2020, Pigments began developing a range of Agrocer® colorants, which will address the Annex XV restriction proposal by ECHA for intentionally added microplastics in the EU, including for agricultural uses. The colorants will be based on dispersants free of tristyrylphenol, which will either exhibit biodegradability or fulfill the proposed solubility and melting point criteria.

In addition to improving the circularity of its products, Business Unit Pigments reviewed the use of renewable raw materials and the creation of environmentally friendly products in its range.

4. Advancing the recyclability of colored plastic

One of the challenges of recycling colored plastics is ensuring that the colorants used will not release harmful substances during further recycling loops. In 2020, Clariant started a project to develop a range of pigments that can safely withstand several loops of mechanical recycling.

Another challenge is achieving consistent colors in recycled polymers. Business Unit Pigments developed a process to help masterbatch producers and packaging designers to quickly and easily match the required colors using postconsumer recycled plastics. Black plastics colored with traditional colorants are particularly difficult to recycle as they absorb Near-Infrared (NIR) light, which is used by detectors to sort polymers. In 2020, Pigments launched three NIR-detectable black colorants that make sorting black plastic for recycling possible. Solutions are now available for the polymers PET and PS, polyolefins, PA, and other engineering polymers.

5. Safer and more efficient recycling of electronic equipment through halogen-free coatings

During the recycling process for precious metals, halogenated flame retardants in electronic materials form toxic substances, posing an environmental risk. While halogens from pigments are not contributing to this risk, standard pre-recycling analytical tests cannot differentiate between halogens from pigments and flame retardants. Therefore, eliminating halogens from pigments is essential to avoid a significantly more complex and expensive recycling process. This is particularly difficult for green, violet, and orange pigments, colors that are therefore rarely seen in electronics, such as cellular phones. In 2020, Business Unit Pigments launched Hostatint™ A 100-ST, a range of liquid pigment concentrates that are based on pigments with halogen-free molecular structures. Electronic devices can now be coated with highly transparent and metallic colors, including green, violet, and orange, without impacting their recyclability.

6. Strengthening commercial competencies

In 2020, Business Unit Pigments strengthened its marketing and sales capabilities, leading to enhanced understanding of market trends, customer needs, and routes to market. The Business Unit held a range of technical and commercial webinars for customers and developed a web store where customers can easily place orders and access documents online, covering topics such as the safe handling of products.

To reduce its vulnerability to the volatility of raw material costs, the business invested considerable effort into passing such changes through to the customer by reworking pricing. This will maximize value for both customers and Business Unit Pigments.

7. Increasing organizational agility and efficiency

In 2020, Business Unit Pigments transformed from a regional to a global organization to be more agile in responding to customer needs and leveraging the global scale of the business. As part of this transformation, the organization itself was reviewed and efficiencies identified. The go-to-market approach was adapted, which included modernizing the interface to the market through the creation of a web portal allowing distributors to place orders directly with the IT systems. In addition, an enhanced demand planning process improved inventory availability. To guide management and employees through the transition, the Business Unit implemented a change management program with external support to assist with the swift implementation of the new global operating model. All these measures helped the business to react quickly and effectively manage the impact of COVID-19 to ensure continuous supply to customers.

As part of the »Seamless End-to-End Automation« initiative launched in 2019, Business Unit Pigments continued to optimize its production processes by minimizing resource usage and maximizing productivity, output, quality, and product availability. This led to reductions in energy consumption, waste generation, and emissions. Business Unit Pigments also addressed its product packaging by increasingly using paper instead of plastic. Substituting biodegradable plastic and dramatically lowering the amount of required packaging are ongoing innovation projects. The Business Unit also improved the efficiency of its end-to-end supply chain to achieve optimized transparency, reliability, and predictability, and improve inventory levels and lead times.

8. Improved environmental performance and new targets

All sites operate along ISO 9001/14001 standards. The new management of change process allows the organization to immediately detect and respond to changes in law and regulations.

By 2020, Business Unit Pigments almost met, achieved, or exceeded all of its 2025 environmental targets for energy consumption, water consumption, generated waste, effluents, and absolute carbon emissions and global warming potential per ton of product. Building on these successes, the Business Unit set new targets for energy consumption, CO2 generation, water intake, water discharge, and specific hazardous waste generation per ton of production for 2030. Main drivers for further progress will be numerous energy and emission reduction projects, such as the conversion of the power plant on-site from coal-fired to natural gas-fired at Hoechst, Germany, and initiatives at several sites to implement closed loop systems and reuse water. A new target for volatile organic compound (VOC) reduction per ton of production was also added. In 2020, the production site in Cuddalore, India, reduced VOC emissions by more than 25% within one year through technical improvements such as better sealing systems for the drying aggregates and reactors and more efficient cooling.

9. Ensuring employee safety

Business Unit Pigments’ excellent track record in protecting employee safety is emphasized by its achievement of its goal of zero accidents. In 2020, protective measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 among employees were at the center of attention. The organization achieved relatively low infection rates and kept its sites open as permissible by local regulations. Despite all challenges, Business Unit Pigments implemented measures needed to adhere to the ISO 45001 standard.


Pigments are substances used for coloring; they are used in a technical manner, for example in the manufacture of dyes, varnishes, and plastics. View entire glossary


These are plastic additives in the form of granules with dyestuffs or other additives used to dye or alter the properties of natural plastic. View entire glossary


Pigments are substances used for coloring; they are used in a technical manner, for example in the manufacture of dyes, varnishes, and plastics. View entire glossary