NOT CURRENT YEAR
With six additional points since last year’s ranking, Umicore no longer finds itself in the bottom ten. Instead, its 15 points mean that the company places itself on the upper half of ChemScore 2022. However, the company still produces as many as 30 hazardous substances. Umicore evaluates the environmental, health and safety performance — including a hazard assessment — of its products throughout their life cycles. The company also markets sustainable products through its own channels and advertises safer alternatives on ChemSec’s Marketplace. Umicore uses biobased and recycled materials in its products, but – unfortunately – there is no information on whether these materials are free from hazardous chemicals. The company has been involved in several incidents during the last ten years, including an explosion in which two workers were killed.
Opportunities for improvement
- Reduce hazardous product 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 Umicore has 30 hazardous chemicals in its production portfolio — same as last year — a paramount improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Umicore 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.
- Prevent further workplace incidents
Umicore has been involved in an incident that led to a fatality and should therefore re-design or dramatically improve its Environment, Health and Safety strategy. This would help the company better avoid incidents and make sure controls are in place that would function even when human errors occur. If an accident or spill should happen, it is important that Umicore identifies the causes and publishes a document on strategies that will be implemented to avoid similar occurrences in the future. Human suffering and environmental pollution is possible to prevent in the production of chemicals, but demands a thorough Environment, Health and Safety system.
- 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. Even though Umicore, to a certain degree, has embedded circular economy into its business, there are still things to improve. It is important that Umicore setsclear and time-bound targets to evaluate ambition and progress. This should be done by developing and presenting a strategy, which includes an activity plan, with clear key performance indicators for how to expand the area of circular products and processes.