NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade D+
ChemScore report card 2020

Solvay

Headquartered in Brussels, Solvay is the world’s largest producer of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate. The company is also a large supplier of hydrogen peroxide, functional polymers, silica, surfactants, food and fragrance flavours, and specialty polymers. Solvay serves numerous industries, including agriculture, automotive, healthcare, aerospace, and consumer goods.
Category icon
Total score
11 / 48

Grade summary

Solvay produces 35 SIN List substances (including five persistent chemicals), 14 of which are officially recognised as chemicals of high concern by the EU. The company has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. Moreover, the company has a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. Solvay follows several voluntary standards of good conduct, but has, nonetheless, been involved in several environmental violations over the last ten years, including PFAS contamination of drinking water in New Jersey, USA.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Phase out persistent chemicals from its product portfolio. Solvay currently has five substances in its product portfolio belonging to the group of chemicals dubbed “forever chemicals”. Financial impacts such as liability costs and loss of trust by investors can be severe due to the long-lasting impacts that persistent chemicals have on human health and the environment.
  2. Solvay has the lowest score for hazardous product portfolio and should dramatically reduce both the volume and the number of hazardous chemicals that the company produces. Solvay has already started to phase out harmful substances and claims to have “halved red zone products and doubled those in the green zone”. Still, the phase-out plans are not transparent. The company has set specific deadlines, but it isn’t clear which deadlines apply to which chemicals.
  3. If a company produces many substances officially recognised as chemicals of high concern by the EU, it can get into trouble when the chemicals are further restricted or banned. As a way of future-proofing its business, Solvay should develop and offer more safer alternatives.

Category breakdown

Categories diagram
Category icon
Product Portfolio
0 / 18

Solvay produces 35 SIN List substances, 14 of which are included on the REACH Candidate List and three of which are also found on the REACH Authorisation List. The Belgian company produces five persistent chemicals. Persistent chemicals are particularly problematic since they do not break down, but instead accumulate in humans and/or the environment. Because of this, persistent chemicals should be of extra concern for investors. Substances which are not considered a problem today could become huge liabilities in the future.

Category icon
Development of Safer Chemicals
5 / 12

Solvay has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. The company does not follow the principles of green chemistry or use the GreenScreen assessment tool, nor does it exclude substances with toxic properties from new products. It does, however, actively market safer alternatives on its website.

Category icon
Management & Transparency
6 / 12

The company has a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances and shares chemical safety information on its website. Solvay is a member of Responsible Care and follows voluntary standards such as a Code of Conduct and a Supplier Code of Conduct.

Category icon
Lack of Controversies
0 / 6

In March 2019, the state of New Jersey ordered five chemical companies, including Solvay, to fund the clean-up of PFAS chemicals used at manufacturing sites that had contaminated drinking water. The state spent 3 million USD on investigations and clean-up, for which it sought repayment from Solvay. However, the company declined to pay. Between 2010 and 2019, Solvay and its subsidiaries paid almost 700,000 USD in penalties for 9 environmental violations according to the violation tracker project of Good Jobs First.

Download detailed information on controversies (PDF, 116 KB)
Category icon
Overall rank
28 / 35
Category icon
Total score
11 / 48
Category icon
Product Portfolio
0 / 18
Category icon
Development of Safer Chemicals
5 / 12
Category icon
Management & Transparency
6 / 12
Category icon
Lack of Controversies
0 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 6 / 50 21 / 48
2022 15 / 54 16 / 48
2021 44 / 50 8 / 48
2020 28 / 35 11 / 48