NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C-
ChemScore report card 2021

Sumitomo Chemical

As a major Japanese chemical company, Sumitomo Chemical Company specialises in basic chemicals, petrochemicals, and fine chemicals such as photo-resists, pharmaceutical intermediates and agrochemicals. The Tokyo-based chemical company is a member of the Sumitomo Group and operates manufacturing plants and sales offices worldwide.
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Total score
16 / 48

Grade summary

Sumitomo Chemical produces 6 hazardous substances. This may not seem too bad compared to the other companies in the ranking, but it’s still a product portfolio full of problematic substances. In addition, there is no available data for the 79 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. Sumitomo performs worse in the Management & Transparency category this year, but is awarded 3 additional points in Development of Safer Chemicals for its newly implemented screening and assessment of intrinsic hazards process. That improvement, along with earning a full score in the Lack of Controversies category this year, is the reason why Sumitomo Chemical has climbed from place 23 to 13 in the ChemScore ranking.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. We are pleased to see that Sumitomo Chemical implemented one of our improvement suggestions from last year. The chemical management system SuCCESS has been developed “to appropriately manage and effectively use information on chemicals handled by the Company, such as their composition, toxicological information (risks and hazards), and regulatory requirements”. We encourage Sumitomo Chemical to go one step further and publicly present phase-out plans, as well as design out hazardous chemicals from new innovations. We also encourage Sumitomo to phase out the PIC substance that it 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. Sumitomo was awarded one point for circularity this year. The company has started to incorporate circular thinking, especially when it comes to plastics. We would like to see a clear strategy with relevant KPIs and SMART targets from the company in the future, and for Sumitomo – as part of the manufacturing sector – to take an active role in contributing to a circular society.
  3. We can only rank 21 percent of Sumitomo’s overall production, since the rest takes place outside the EU and US, where there are no reliable and publicly available sources for identifying producers of hazardous chemicals. Informing ChemSec about hazardous chemical production outside the EU and US could raise the company’s score considerably.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
3 / 18

Sumitomo produces/uses 6 highly hazardous substances – 5 SIN List chemicals, 1 PIC, and 1 HHP – 1 of which is included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. None of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted (no Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces no persistent chemicals.

Please note that there is no available data for the 79 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
5 / 12

Sumitomo Chemical 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. Sumitomo Chemical actively markets safer alternatives both on its own website as well as on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has no true circular product, process or innovation. Sumitomo Chemical 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. Sumitomo Chemical is not actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
2 / 12

The Japanese company does not produce only sustainable products, and has no 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. Sumitomo Chemical did not respond to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking and it does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Sumitomo Chemical 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

Several fires have been reported at the Sumitomo Chemical’s facilities. Although no injuries or environmental damage were reported, storage facilities containing hazardous waste were burned. After a fire incident in 2014, it was revealed that storage facilities were violating municipal regulations by storing too large an amount of hazardous substances. Four years earlier, another fire occurred at the same plant, damaging an area of at least 2,000 square metres.

Download Controversies Sumitomo Chem (PDF, 105 KB)
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Overall rank
16 / 50
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Total score
16 / 48
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Product Portfolio
3 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
5 / 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 49 / 50 7 / 48
2022 48 / 54 7 / 48
2021 16 / 50 16 / 48
2020 24 / 35 12 / 48