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Grade C-
ChemScore report card 2022

BASF

BASF is the world’s largest publicly traded chemical company in terms of revenue. Its headquarter and main production site is located in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The company, which was founded in 1865, operates six large “Verbund” sites and another 232 production sites in a total of 90 countries. The company’s portfolio is comprised of six segments — chemicals, materials, industrial solutions, surface technologies, nutrition and care, and agricultural solutions. The chemicals segment includes petrochemicals and intermediates.
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Total score
14 / 48

Grade summary

BASF, the world’s largest publicly traded chemical company, has increased its portfolio of hazardous chemicals from last year’s 127 to this year’s 133. Together with Lanxess, it is the company in the ChemScore ranking producing the highest number of persistent chemicals. However, unlike Lanxess, BASF does not commit to developing new products free from substances of very high concern. BASF gets its highest score in the Development of Safer Chemicals category. The company’s sales from “Accelerator Products” – products that the company considers to have a substantial sustainability contribution – increased from 17 billion euros in 2020 to 24 billion euros in 2021. During the same period, the company’s “Challenged products” – products deemed to be of significant sustainability concern – decreased from 72 to 26 billion euros. The company has circular programs in place and aims to double sales from circular solutions by 2030. The company gets zero points in the Lack of Controversies category because of several accidents in the past decade, two of which led to fatal outcomes for workers in their plants.

How did we come to this score?

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Map and phase out persistent chemicals
    BASF produces 15 persistent chemicals. These substances are also known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. Instead, these chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — build up over time. The consequences of these substances are becoming increasingly detrimental, not only for human health and the environment but also for investors. Investors risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating, and are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination. BASF should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of its persistent substances. The company should also publish a time-bound phase-out plan of each persistent chemical and an annual progression report to go with it.
  2. Reduce hazardous portfolio
    Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global problem. This threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, by damaging the biological and physical processes that underpin all life. Since BASF has 133 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio, a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. BASF should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of its hazardous substances. It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical and an annual progression report. If the company continues to produce hazardous substances, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use, motivate the production volume and state how much money it spends on research and development to find a safer alternative.
  3. Market safer alternatives
    BASF does have safer alternatives in its portfolio, but doesn’t market them on any independent third-party platform, such as ChemSec’s Marketplace. Safer alternatives replace the use of hazardous substances and are important to put an end to chemical pollution. BASF should, therefore, continue to develop and produce safer alternatives, and start marketing them.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
1 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
7 / 12
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Management & Transparency
6 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6
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Overall rank
19 / 54
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Total score
14 / 48
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Product Portfolio
1 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
7 / 12
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Management & Transparency
6 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6
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Controversies
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 25 / 50 14 / 48
2022 19 / 54 14 / 48
2021 18 / 50 15 / 48
2020 13 / 35 14 / 48