NOT CURRENT YEAR
Umicore produces 21 SIN List substances, ten of which are officially recognised as chemicals of high concern by the EU. The company does not have a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products, nor does it have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. Umicore follows several voluntary standards of good conduct, but has, nonetheless, been involved in a couple of environmental violations over the last ten years, including including several fires and explosions at the company’s facilities.
Opportunities for improvement
- Umicore’s business of recycling metals and batteries includes the use of highly toxic chemicals. The company’s chemical portfolio therefore consists of many well-known problematic chemicals such as carcinogens and reprotoxic substances. Instead of ignoring this challenge, Umicore should implement a screening method and be transparent about its chemicals management.
- A sustainable circular economy needs products that can be safely recycled over and over again. This is only possible to achieve without hazardous ingredients. Umicore should, therefore, reduce both the volume and the number of hazardous chemicals that the company produces.
- Since its core business involves the handling of highly hazardous substances, Umicore should improve safety processes and train employees in order to reduce environmental incidents.
Umicore produces 21 SIN List substances, ten of which are included on the REACH Candidate List and two of which are also found on the REACH Authorisation List. The company does not produce any persistent chemicals.
Umicore does not have a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and therefore does not investigate the intrinsic hazards of ingredients. The company does not exclude substances with toxic properties from new products or follow the principles of green chemistry. It does, however, make use of the GreenScreen assessment tool and actively markets safer alternatives on its website.
The company shares chemical safety information on its website but does not have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances. Umicore is not a member of Responsible Care but follows voluntary standards such as a Code of Conduct and a Supplier Code of Conduct.
A study released by Public Health France in 2018 showed high body burdens of arsenic and cadmium among the population around Umicore’s five former mining sites in comparison to the general population. There have also been several fires and explosions at the company’s facilities in the last couple of years. In January 2014, two workers repairing a tank at Umicore in Olen, Antwerp province, were killed when the tank, containing residue of hydrochloric acid, exploded.Download detailed information on controversies (PDF, 110 KB)