Former Chief Sustainability Officer for Covestro, a manufacturer of high-tech polymer materials, Richard Northcote has died aged 58. Covestro embraced the UN sustainable development goals, helping to launch
innovative products and technologies that reduce environmental impact under his leadership. He was also passionate about a project to produce solar dryers and refrigerators that enabled small farmers in India to reduce crop wastage and increase their income. He was proud of Covestro’s contribution to Solar Impulse – the solar aircraft that flew around the world without fuel – of ultra- lightweight and insulating materials.
Born in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Richard lived in Hong Kong, along with his siblings Maureen, Frances and Eric, until 1971, when the family returned to Scotland. He studied at St Andrew’s Academy in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, then began an economics degree at Glasgow University. He left university, in 1979, before graduating to take up a job as a quantity surveyor with Costain Civil Engineering, gaining a diploma in quantity surveying from Croydon College of Technology.
In 1985 he took up a job as a construction journalist in Bahrain, reporting for Gulf Construction. By 1987 he was editor-in-chief of all Al Hilal newspaper titles, based in Hong Kong. He returned to the UK in 1991 as editor of Construction Weekly, then the Engineer, and later moved into corporate communications with ICI, Huntsman and Bayer. In 2009 he joined Covestro, formerly Bayer Material Science. He also sat on the steering committee of the Oxford University Business Economics Programme and was an adviser to the board of the European Institute for Industrial Leadership.
He is survived by Méabh (nee De Búrca), a policy analyst at the European Commission, whom he married in 1995, their children, Catriona and Róisín, his children from his first marriage, Alex and Callum, and his siblings Maureen and Eric. Frances predeceased him.