Sumitomo Chemical’s ChemScore rating has seen a significant decline over the past four years, resulting in a current grade of D with 7 points. This places the company among the worst performers in this year’s ranking. The decline is primarily attributed to various controversies, including a notable fatality incident in November 2021. Sumitomo Chemical has made some progress by reducing the number of harmful chemicals it produces, with six SIN List substances in the EU and US markets. But transparency remains a concern with only 15 per cent of its sold production publicly disclosed.
The company shows a commitment to responsible care, but it lacks design-out strategies for Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) in newly developed products. While it reports eco-friendly products, Sumitomo Chemical does not promote safer alternatives on external platforms. The company is engaged in circular technologies, but the absence of information regarding hazardous substances hinders point awards.
Opportunities for improvement
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global crisis, threatening both ecosystems and human health. Since Sumitomo Chemical has six hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a key improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Sumitomo Chemical should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of hazardous chemicals (or products that contain them).It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical together with an annual progression report. Ideally, the company should commit to having a toxic-free product portfolio within the next decade. If the company decides to continue producing a hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use and prove that no feasible alternatives are available at present. In such a case, the company should also state the share of the R&D budget spent on finding a safer alternative for that particular substance.
- Market safer alternatives
Sumitomo Chemical does not have any safer alternatives evaluated by independent third parties in its product portfolio. Safer alternatives replace the use of hazardous substances and are crucial in order to put an end to chemical pollution. The company should, therefore, start producing safer alternatives or market existing ones on an independent third-party platform. A good place to advertise is ChemSec’s Marketplace, where buyers and suppliers can find and market safer alternatives.
- Increase transparency
Much is still unknown about Sumitomo Chemical’s production of hazardous chemicals. At least when it comes to public information. In order to allow a comprehensive global evaluation, Sumitomo Chemical should disclose the share of revenue and production volume of hazardous chemicals (or products that contain them). This information should cover all operations globally. This is particularly important since only 15% of the company’s sales are in the EU/US, where some degree of chemical transparency exists.