Arkema has made significant progress, almost doubling its points to end up with a C grade. However, there’s been a notable increase in its hazardous chemicals portfolio, including PFAS, in the past year. 8 SIN substances have been added, bringing the total to 46 harmful chemicals, out of which 15 are persistent. Only 56 per cent of the company’s sold production is documented in EU/US markets, impacting transparency.
Arkema validates sustainable claims with evidence to prevent greenwashing, representing a best practice. While revenue from safer products has increased, the absence of clear and timed phase-out plans and a commitment to design out all hazardous chemicals from new products is noted. It is also noted that the company has circular products and processes, as well as recycling programs in place. An important move towards transparency is Arkema’s practice of reporting the combined revenue generated from products containing Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs), as well as offering insights into the number of SVHCs in its global production.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Arkema produces or uses at least 15 persistent chemicals. These substances are known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. These chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — instead build up over time, creating consequences that are becoming increasingly detrimental. Not only for human health and the environment but also for investors. Companies reliant on such chemicals risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating. They are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination and bodily injury. Arkema should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of persistent chemicals (or products that contain them). The company should publish a time-bound phase-out plan for each persistent chemical and a realistic road map with clear KPIs to track progress.
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global crisis, threatening both ecosystems and human health. Since Arkema has 46 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a key improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Arkema should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of hazardous chemicals (or products that contain them). It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical together with an annual progression report. Ideally, the company should commit to having a toxic-free product portfolio within the next decade. If the company decides to continue producing a hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use and prove that no feasible alternatives are available at present. In such a case, the company should also state the share of the R&D budget spent on finding a safer alternative for that particular substance.
- Market safer alternatives
Arkema does not have any safer alternatives evaluated by independent third parties in its product portfolio. Safer alternatives replace the use of hazardous substances and are crucial in order to put an end to chemical pollution. The company should, therefore, start producing safer alternatives or market existing ones on an independent third-party platform. A good place to advertise is ChemSec’s Marketplace, where buyers and suppliers can find and market safer alternatives.