NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C-
ChemScore report card 2021

Evonik

Evonik Industries was founded as a result of a restructuring of the mining and technology group RAG. The company manufactures specialty chemicals and is the second largest chemicals company in Germany. Evonik Industries offers different products in the field of consumer goods, animal nutrition and pharmaceuticals, and carries out activities in more than 100 countries.
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Total score
14 / 48

Grade Summary

Evonik has a very large production of hazardous chemicals and data tells us that it is producing 50 highly hazardous chemicals this year, including three persistent chemicals, which leaves the company without a single point in the first category. The production of problematic chemicals is one reason for the poor score, but also the fact that there’s no available data for the 52 percent of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. This low transparency is a big issue for investors as it makes it hard to do a proper evaluation of the risks connected to the product portfolio. Like all companies in the ranking, Evonik has been encouraged to share information about its production but it has declined. On the positive side, Evonik has a true circular product and measurable circular economy targets.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Evonik Industries currently has three substances in its product portfolio belonging to the group of chemicals dubbed “forever chemicals”, due to their extreme persistence. For investors, these chemicals pose a nightmare when the persistence and level of exposure is revealed, as demonstrated by the companies involved in the PFAS disaster, suffering massive financial implications. Investors risk stranded assets, as the environmental and human health impacts of exposure to “forever chemicals” can’t be stopped or easily reversed. For this reason – not to mention for the sake of human health and the environment – we strongly recommend that Evonik Industries prioritises phasing out persistent chemicals from its product portfolio.
  2. The company should also reduce its hazardous portfolio overall, which currently consists of 50 banned, severely restricted or SIN-listed substances. Chemical pollution has a harmful impact on human health and the environment, and poses a growing threat. Two million people died due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in 2019, compared to 1.56 million in 2016, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Hazardous chemicals are also key drivers of biodiversity loss, putting entire ecosystems in jeopardy. A good place to start the reduction would be the five PIC substances that Evonik Industries still offers. PIC, short for Prior Informed Consent, is one of the key provisions of the Rotterdam Convention, allowing the export of – often domestically restricted – hazardous chemicals to poorer countries with weaker chemical legislation, as long as the receiving country signs a consent that it understands what it is accepting and has a plan for how to handle it.
  3. Evonik Industries has had deadly incidents in both Germany and the US, caused by explosions at the production sites. Those incidents awarded them zero points in the controversy category and should motivate intensified safety processes and employee trainings, to avoid such incidents in the future.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
0 / 18

Evonik produces/uses 50 highly hazardous substances –46 SIN List chemicals, 5 PICs, and 8 HHPs) – 12 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 3 of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (3 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces 3 persistent chemicals. Persistent chemicals are particularly problematic, since they do not break down, but instead accumulate in humans and the environment. Because of this, persistent chemicals should be of extra concern for investors; substances that are not considered a problem today could become huge liabilities in the future.

Please note that there is no available data for the 52 % of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. Lower EU/US production means higher uncertainty with regard to the total production of hazardous chemicals, which will have a negative impact on the company’s score in this category.

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Development of Safer Chemicals
8 / 12

Evonik Industries has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes the intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. It does not, however, exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. Evonik Industries actively markets safer alternatives on its own website, but not on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has at least one product, process or innovation that enables production of circular products. Evonik Industries uses bio-based resources without occupying extra land or in competition with food production. It does not source and treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Evonik Industries is actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
6 / 12

The German company does not produce only sustainable products, and it does not have a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. However, it shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. Evonik Industries responded to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking, but it does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Evonik Industries does have a circular economy program in place, and it does have objective and measurable circular economy targets.

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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6

Between 2011 and 2020, Evonik Industries paid 1,179,528 USD in fines for 14 environmental violations according to the violation tracker project of Good Jobs First. The various incidents that have been reported at Evonik Industries plants and sites have resulted in both causalities and injuries. In 2020, one worker was injured at a site in Canada. In 2016, one person was killed and three were injured at plant a in Texas. In 2012, two workers were killed at a plant in Germany.

Download Controversies Evonik Industries (PDF, 111 KB)
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Overall rank
20 / 50
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Total score
14 / 48
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Product Portfolio
0 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
8 / 12
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Management & Transparency
6 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 12 / 50 17 / 48
2022 24 / 54 14 / 48
2021 20 / 50 14 / 48
2020 18 / 35 13 / 48