NOT CURRENT YEAR
Ecolab scores two more points this year compared to last year, pushing the company up five places – from 26 to 21. This increase is entirely due to Ecolab being one of just two companies in the entire ChemScore ranking committing to prohibit the development of new products containing substances of very high concern. However, the substances that Ecolab are phasing out are already on the legislative path towards being banned. The company has 18 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, although none of them are persistent. Our knowledge about Ecolab’s portfolio is relatively high, since 74 percent of its revenue comes from EU or US markets, where information is available in public records. Ecolab uses its own “Impacts That Matter” criteria to assess its products’ impact on human health and the environment. Chemical hazards are assessed and externally reviewed by the Chemical Footprint Project.
Opportunities for improvement
- 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 Ecolab has 18 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio (two more than last year), a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Ecolab should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of its hazardous substances. The company should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical and an annual progression report. If Ecolab continues to produce any hazardous substance, 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.
- Market safer alternatives
We did identify safer alternatives in Ecolab‘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.
- Increase circularity
The chemical industry finds itself at the beginning of the value chain. Therefore, it has a responsibility to act fast and ambitiously against the ever-growing scarcity of our planet’s resources. But Ecolab receives just one point for circularity, since we could not identify an explicit circular product or process, nor a relevant circular strategy or any KPIs. There is no hazard-free declaration for the recycled feedstock that the company is using, and no assurance that the biobased material doesn’t compete with food production. For these reasons, it is important that Ecolab identifies 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.