Evonik receives a C grade in ChemScore 2023. The company produces 53 SIN List substances and five persistent chemicals. However, it does not disclose its global portfolio of hazardous substances. In fact, only 65 per cent of its chemical production is known, the rest takes place in regions where chemical reporting is not mandatory.
Evonik uses an assessment methodology and harmful chemicals are subject to more detailed examination. The company offers one safer alternative that is placed on ChemSec’s Marketplace and has its’ own sustainable product pallet. Evonik offers methods to substitute widely used multilayer composites with mono-material packaging, which makes recycling instead of incineration possible. Additionally, the company has a code of conduct and a supplier code of conduct in place and engages actively with ChemSec prior to the publication of ChemScore.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Evonik produces or uses at least five persistent chemicals. These substances are known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. These chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — instead build up over time, creating consequences that are becoming increasingly detrimental. Not only for human health and the environment but also for investors.Companies reliant on such chemicals risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating. They are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination and bodily injury. Evonik should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of persistent chemicals (or products that contain them). The company should publish a time-bound phase-out plan for each persistent chemical and a realistic road map with clear KPIs to track progress.
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global crisis, threatening both ecosystems and human health. Since Evonik has 53 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a key improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Evonik should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of hazardous chemicals (or products that contain them).It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical together with an annual progression report. Ideally, the company should commit to having a toxic-free product portfolio within the next decade. If the company decides to continue producing a hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use and prove that no feasible alternatives are available at present. In such a case, the company should also state the share of the R&D budget spent on finding a safer alternative for that particular substance.
- Commit to phasing out hazardous chemicals
Evonik tracks the substances within its portfolio. But to further advance its commitment to sustainability, the company should publicly commit to phasing out specific hazardous substances as well as designing out harmful chemicals from new innovations. Publicly disclosed phase-out plans with well-defined deadlines not only demonstrate determination but also a genuine commitment to progressing in a sustainable direction by prioritising safer alternatives.