NOT CURRENT YEAR
Solvay receives 16 points, earning the company a C- and the rank of number 15. That is eight points more than in last year’s ChemScore – the greatest increase in points among all the ranked companies. Solvay is the only company to have time-bound phase-out plans for all substances of very high concern. However, it still produces 33 hazardous substances, four of which are persistent. And these numbers only cover about half of the company’s product portfolio, sold in EU and US markets, where information is available in public records. Solvay has numerous ambitious projects for circularity and sustainability, such as its Sustainable Portfolio Management and the TechSyn platform, which awards the company additional points. However, Solvay is burdened by a large number of controversies, resulting in zero points in the last category. But to its credit, the company has provided detailed feedback in almost every case noted in the controversies file.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Solvay produces or uses four persistent chemicals. These substances are also known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. Instead, these chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — build up over time. The consequences of these substances 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. Solvay should therefore make sure to identify all uses, and publish volumes and percentage of total revenue of its persistent substances. The company should also prioritise these persistent chemicals in its phase-out plan and publish 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 Solvay has 33 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio, a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Solvay 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 substances, 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.
- Increase circularity
The chemical industry finds itself at the beginning of the value chain. Therefore, it has a responsibility to act fast and ambitiously against the ever-growing scarcity of our planet’s resources. Solvay receives already 6 out of 8 circular points, as it has a dedicated Circular Economy Business Solution Program, including the use of biobased feedstock, enabling recycling, and increase longevity. Besides using the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circulytics Matrix – setting very generic aims – we would like to see ambitious and timed circular targets, with indicators measuring the ambition and progress.