NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C
ChemScore report card 2021

Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey is a specialty chemicals company that manufactures catalysts, pharmaceutical materials and pollution control systems. The company also refines platinum, gold and silver, and produces colour and coating materials for the glass, ceramics, tile, plastics, paint, ink and construction industries. Johnson Matthey operates around the world.
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Total score
20 / 48

Grade Summary

Johnson Matthey produces 12 highly hazardous chemicals. Compared to some of the other companies in the ranking that might seem good, but it is still a portfolio full of problematic substances. On a positive note, 69 percent of the company’s production takes place in the EU and/or the US, where legal requirements for transparency is high. This means that investors have a fairly good picture of Johnson Matthey’ portfolio, something you cannot say for many of the other companies in ChemScore. There’s no record of the company being involved in any major controversies, rendering it all six points in the Lack of Controversies category. Johnson Matthey’s performance in the remaining categories ranges from poor to average.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Johnson Matthey works hard on helping its clients become more sustainable, for example by using the company’s catalysts to reduce air pollution. The company’s chemical assessment is applied at an early design stage. Still, we would like to know more about their products, like how Johnson Matthey’s innovations are significantly more eco-friendly than the existing ones, using less or no hazardous ingredients.
  2. As the largest recycler of platinum group metals, Johnson Matthey states that it has created one of the world’s first circular economies in this metal group. We agree that this process indeed has a circular end-of-life concept. While we commend the fact that Johnson Matthey recognises the need for a truly circular economy, the company lacks a clear, public strategy with KPIs and SMART targets.
  3. All improvement points from last year – publicly announce phase-out plans with clear deadlines, restrict the use of hazardous chemicals in newly developed products, and improve safety processes and train employees in order to reduce environmental incidents – are still valid. However, we want to reiterate this one in particular: Johnson Matthey has already committed to replacing hazardous chemicals “where safer and economic alternatives are available”. But we would like the company to go one step further and publicly announce their connected phase-out plans, with clear deadlines. A good start would be phasing out the two PIC substances that Johnson Matthey 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.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
6 / 18

Johnson Matthey produces/uses 12 highly hazardous substances – 11 SIN List chemicals, 2 PICs, and 1 HHP – 5 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 1 of these highly hazardous substances is either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (1 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces no persistent chemicals.

Please note that there is no available data for the 31 percent 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
6 / 12

Johnson Matthey 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. Johnson Matthey does not actively market safer alternatives on its own website or on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has at least one true circular product, process or innovation. Johnson Matthey does not use bio-based resources. Nor does it source or treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Johnson Matthey is actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
2 / 12

The British 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. It does not share chemical safety information on its website. However, it is following a credible code of conduct standard. Johnson Matthey responded to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking. However, the company does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Johnson Matthey does not have a circular economy program in place, thus lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.

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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6

Between 2011 and 2020, Johnson Matthey paid close to 400,000 USD in fines for 14 environmental violations according to the violation tracker project of Good Jobs First. The company is responsible for the release of 5,000 litres of toxic iron sulphate solution following an explosion at its UK facility in 2018.

Download Controversies Johnson Matthey (PDF, 116 KB)
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Overall rank
5 / 50
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Total score
20 / 48
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Product Portfolio
6 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
6 / 12
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Management & Transparency
2 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 4 / 50 23 / 48
2022 3 / 54 24 / 48
2021 5 / 50 20 / 48
2020 5 / 35 20 / 48