NOT CURRENT YEAR
Evonik ends up with just as many points as it did last year but drops four places in the ranking. With 52 hazardous substances — including two persistent chemicals, one of which is a globally banned POP (Persistent Organic Pollutant) — the company is one of the top producers of harmful chemicals among the ChemScore companies. Evonik does, however, receive several points for its work on circularity and safer alternatives. The company uses circular processes together with renewable raw material and recycled hazard-free feedstock, and markets safer alternatives through its own channels, as well as on independent third-party platforms such as ChemSec’s Marketplace. Circularity is one of four sustainability focus areas for the company’s “Next Generation Solution” products, a portfolio that Evonik aims to grow beyond 50 percent by 2030. Over the last ten years, three people have died due to explosions at company plants. Evonik has also been ranked as one of the worst air and water polluters.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Evonik produces two persistent chemicals, one of which is a globally restricted POP (Persistent Organic Pollutant). The consequences of these “forever chemicals” 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. Evonik should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of 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.
- 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 Evonik has 52 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio, a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Evonik should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of 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 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.
- Prevent further controversies
Evonik has been involved in incidents leading to fatalities and liabilities of over 1 million USD and should re-design or dramatically improve its Environment, Health and Safety strategy. This would help the company to better avoid incidents and make sure that controls – functioning even when human errors occur – are in place. If an accident or spill should happen, it is important that Evonik identifies the cause and publishes a document on strategies that will be implemented to avoid similar occurrences in the future. It is possible to prevent human suffering and environmental pollution when producing chemicals, but it requires a thorough Environment, Health and Safety system.