The Social Commitment Charter adopted in 2018 is an even stronger affirmation of our desire to set a good social and environmental example. We do that through very concrete initiatives, with compelling results. Virginie Delcroix, Vice President, Sustainable Development, brings us up to speed.
Virginie Delcroix – Adopting this charter is, first, a strong signal that our CEO and Executive Committee are committed to taking CSR — an ever more important cornerstone of Arkema’s growth — farther. Our CSR strategy is expressed through three robust commitments, to innovation driven sustainable solutions, responsible management of industrial activities, and open dialogue and close relationships with stakeholders. Backed by our attention to our fundamentals of innovation, safety, employee dialogue and establishing roots in our communities, this strategy clarifies and gives more meaning to the CSR commitments of the company and our employees. Since Arkema’s creation in 2006, we have repeatedly asserted our intention to be a responsible chemical producer, one that aims higher than regulatory requirements as it looks to meet the most ambitious global standards. You’ll recall that we adhere to the Responsible Care® initiative and the U.N. Global Compact and have made the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals the lodestar of our CSR strategy. We are deploying the necessary resources to achieve our goals, through an innovation strategy focused mainly on the key sustainability challenges and the introduction of proactive programs. A number of specific commitments support the charter, in areas such as innovation, safety, health, the environment and quality, human rights, business ethics and the fight against corruption.
Virginie Delcroix – It’s pivotal. We can’t create sustainable value for society unless we listen to society. Locally, that’s what our dynamic, more than 15-year-old Common Ground® program is for, via outreach to municipalities, nonprofits, schools and universities, and people living or working near our sites. Our business units constantly interact with customers, suppliers and business partners. More broadly, in 2016 we conducted our first materiality analysis, nailing down the expectations of all stakeholders, both internal — employees and employee representatives — and external — customers, suppliers, NGOs, shareholders, neighbors, media and regulatory authorities. An analysis of the results showed strong consistency in how our internal and external stakeholders prioritized the topics considered material (or salient) for Arkema. It also pinpointed areas for improvement and added new strategic goals such as diversity. An annual dialogue initiative followed, with a stakeholder panel that had a significant impact on our thinking and our social commitment charter. A second materiality analysis began in 2019, including an expanded stakeholder panel in our three main business regions.
Virginie Delcroix – Yes, we’re all really happy about it. At year-end 2018, the intensity of our greenhouse gas emissions (down 54%), volatile organic compound emissions (down 38%), chemical oxygen demand (down 41%) and net energy purchases (down 12%) had decreased sharply from 2012 levels (see following pages). These results, driven by proactive initiatives involving best practices, capital expenditure and pivotal programs such as Arkenergy and Optim’O, reflect our mature approach to environmental issues — so much so that we’ve already achieved some of our long-term 2025 goals. We’re going to keep pushing ahead, of course, updating certain goals
Virginie Delcroix – Arkema already offers a wide range of sustainable solutions, through our long-established choice of six innovation platforms. The systematic assessment begun in 2018 aims to take an increasingly active approach to setting the direction for our products. The idea is to evaluate the environmental and social impacts and benefits, the potential risks and, ultimately, the contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of each of our solutions (the product and its application). We will do so in an integrated manner across the life cycle, from feedstock sourcing to production processes, the way our products are used and their end of life. The circular economy is an integral part of this approach. In 2018, we concentrated on three pilot business units — Acrylics, Technical Polymers and Bostik — to devise the assessment method, which draws on industry guidelines such as those of the WBCSD 1. It’s a long-term project that enjoys strong support from the Executive Committee and benefits from the business units’ involvement. Consequently, in 2019 and 2020, we plan to cover most of the solutions we market. Besides which, assessment isn’t a goal in itself. What really counts is helping to manage the portfolio and the sustainable growth strategy created for Arkema and its partners.
1. WBCSD : World Business Council for Sustainable Development