Ecolab produces 19 SIN List substances (including one persistent chemical), seven of which are officially recognised as chemicals of high concern by the EU. The company has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. It does not, however, have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. The company is not a member of Responsible Care but follows several voluntary standards. Ecolab is the only company that claims to allow the Chemical Footprint Project to review its information.
Opportunities for improvement
- Dramatically reduce both the volume and the number of hazardous chemicals that the company produces. Ecolab should start to reduce the production of harmful substances, and eventually phase them out. The persistent chemical should be the first to go.
- Through its Enterprise Resource Planning system, Ecolab tracks the substances in its portfolio. The next step is to publicly commit to phase out some of the company’s hazardous substances. Publicly announced phase-out plans with clear deadlines show determination and a serious will to move forward in a sustainable direction with safer alternatives.
- ChemSec found some safer products from the company on external websites but, oddly enough, Ecolab itself did not mention these either on the company website or in its sustainability reports. Ecolab should develop more safer alternatives and actively market them.
Ecolab produces 19 SIN List substances, seven of which are included on the REACH Candidate List and one of which is also found on the REACH Authorisation List. The company produces one persistent chemical. Persistent chemicals are particularly problematic since they do not break down, instead they accumulate in humans and/or the environment. Because of this, persistent chemicals should be of extra concern for investors. Substances which are not considered a problem today could become huge liabilities in the future.
Ecolab has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. The company does not follow the principles of green chemistry or use the GreenScreen assessment tool, nor does it exclude substances with toxic properties from new products. It does, however, actively market safer alternatives on its website.
Ecolab shares chemical safety information on its website but does not have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. Ecolab actively reports on the content of SVHCs in its finished products. The company is not a member of Responsible Care but follows voluntary standards such as a Code of Conduct and a Supplier Code of Conduct.
A few years back, a fire and a subsequent leak of glacial acetic acid were reported at the Ecolab plant in West Virginia. This prompted authorities to halt trains and evacuate nearby residents as a precaution. In 2018, a Chinese prosecution office brought charges against the company’s Nalco subsidiary, alleging that it had violated environmental laws relating to waste disposal. Between 2010 and 2019, Ecolab and its subsidiaries paid 1.5 million USD in penalties for three environmental violations according to the violation tracker project of Good Jobs First.Download detailed information on controversies (PDF, 108 KB)