NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C+
ChemScore report card 2022

DSM

DSM was originally founded in 1902 by the Dutch Government to mine coal reserves but is today a multinational company. Its operations are divided into three clusters — nutrition, materials and innovation. Products include thermoplastics used in cars, electronic devices and strong fibres used in protective materials. The company has lately divested some of its chemical units, including its coating resin and engineering materials business, as part of an ongoing transformation into more of a health, nutrition & bioscience company.
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Total score
22 / 48

Grade summary

DSM loses six points in this year’s ChemScore, receiving a C+ and dropping from second to seventh place in the ranking. The company has divested its coating and resin business and its long-term goal is to transition into health, nutrition, and bioscience. Considering this new direction, DSM claims that several of the ChemScore criteria are no longer relevant for the company’s business. However, the engineering materials division remains a large part of DSM, meaning that the company still fulfills the criteria laid out in ChemScore. The company produces five hazardous substances, one of which is persistent. It has high ambitions in its work on circularity, with initiatives such as the “Brighter Living Solution Plus indicator”, but more details about how new products should not contain hazardous substances would be needed to receive a higher score. Furthermore, the company produces safer alternative substances but has chosen not to actively market it, which would have improved the score.

How did we come to this score?

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Map and phase out persistent chemicals
    DSM produces one persistent chemical. 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. DSM should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of the 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. Market safer alternatives
    We did identify safer alternatives in DSM‘s product portfolio, but these are not marketed on any independent third-party platform. Therefore, they are hard to find for downstream users looking to substitute hazardous chemicals. A good place to advertise is ChemSec’s Marketplace, where buyers and suppliers can find and market safer alternatives.
  3. Increased circularity
    The company achieves only two out of eight circular points. As the Netherlands is one of the most progressive and ambitious countries when it comes to circularity, it is surprising that DSM is not more outspoken and active on the topic.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
7 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
5 / 12
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Management & Transparency
4 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6
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Overall rank
7 / 54
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Total score
22 / 48
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Product Portfolio
7 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
5 / 12
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Management & Transparency
4 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6
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Controversies
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2022 7 / 54 22 / 48
2021 2 / 50 28 / 48
2020 1 / 35 29 / 48