NOT CURRENT YEAR
In this year’s ChemScore, Bayer receives a total of 10 points, giving it a D+ grade and a 39th position in the ranking. This means that the company has lost one point and three places in the ranking since last year. It is the only chemical producer in Europe that receives zero circularity points. This is concerning, considering the substantial amount of European policy initiatives currently aiming to increase circularity. Bayer has increased its portfolio of hazardous substances from 15 to 22, two of which are persistent. The company has a product stewardship program in place and is assessing the properties of its product ingredients from the research and development stage onwards giving them additional points. Lately, Bayer has been involved in a number of controversies, adding to an already long list over the last decade.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Bayer produces two 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. Bayer should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentages of the total revenue of its persistent substances. The company should also publish a time-bound phase-out plan for both of its persistent chemicals and an annual progression report to go with it.
- 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 Bayer has 22 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. The company should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentages of the 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 any 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.
The chemical industry finds itself at the beginning of the value chain, therefore it has a responsibility to act fast and ambitious against the ever-growing scarcity of our planet’s resources. But Bayer receives zero points for circularity since we were unable to identify any circular products, processes or strategies. Nor did we see a decrease in hazardous waste or commenced/increased use of recycled hazard-free feedstock or biobased material. For these reasons, it is important that Bayer starts by identifying its current production and use of circular products and processes, and then specifies how many percent of its total revenue comes from circular products. The company should also develop and present a strategy, which includes an activity plan, with clear indicators for how to expand the area of circular products and processes.