NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade D+
ChemScore report card 2021

Sasol

Sasol is an integrated chemicals and energy company that produces oil and chemical products. Based in South Africa, and operating in 33 countries, the company offers products such as automotive lubricants, greases, cleansers, fuels, polymers, and specialty gases.
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Total score
11 / 48

Grade summary

Sasol has a large portfolio of toxic chemicals and has decreased its score in the first category from two points last year to one point this year. The production of problematic chemicals is one reason for the poor score, but also the fact that there’s no available data for the over 70 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, Sasol has been encouraged to share information about its production but it has declined. In the remaining categories Sasol performs weak across the board.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Sasol should reduce its hazardous portfolio, which currently consists of 18 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 three PIC substances that Sasol 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.
  2. We are pleased to see that Sasol has acted on our improvement suggestions and now reports on a chemical assessment – including a hazard evaluation – in their product management section. Sasol also states that it performs substitution ahead of European bans. We would very much like to see those phase-out plans, along with a timeline to visualise the progress.
  3. The company’s partnership initiatives on plastic waste collection, recycling and education in South Africa is a start, but they fall short of the need and opportunities that a circular economy entails. Sasol should develop a strategy and consider developing its own circular products or processes for the company’s core business.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
1 / 18

SASOL produces/uses 18 highly hazardous substances – 18 SIN List chemicals, 3 PICs, and 2 HHPs – 4 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. None of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted, with set dates when production needs to cease (no Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces no persistent chemicals.

Please note that there is no available data for the 70% 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
4 / 12

Sasol has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products, which includes the intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. However, it does not exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. Sasol actively markets safer alternatives on ChemSec Marketplace, but not on its own website. The company has no true circular product, process or innovation. Sasol does not use biobased resources. Nor does it source and treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Sasol is not actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
3 / 12

The South African company does not produce only sustainable products, nor does it have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. It shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. Sasol 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). Sasol does not have a circular economy program in place, thus lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.

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Lack of Controversies
3 / 6

In June 2019, environmental groups sued the South African government over its failure to crack down on Sasol refineries and Eskom power plants for causing severe air pollution in the region. Sasolburg, where Sasol operates an oil refinery, frequently has poorer air quality than Beijing and Jakarta, two of the world’s most polluted cities according to AirVisual, an app that gives data on global air pollution levels. Between 2011 and 2020, Sasol and its subsidiaries paid over 8 million USD in penalties for four environmental violations according to the violation tracker project of Good Jobs First.

Download Controversies Sasol (PDF, 117 KB)
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Overall rank
31 / 50
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Total score
11 / 48
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Product Portfolio
1 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
4 / 12
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Management & Transparency
3 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
3 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 14 / 50 17 / 48
2022 26 / 54 13 / 48
2021 31 / 50 11 / 48
2020 34 / 35 6 / 48