Westlake’s performance has seen a decline over the past year, shifting from 14 points to 8 points and a D grade. This significant decrease is notable, with points diminishing in three categories. The company’s portfolio now includes 19 SIN List substances (including one persistent chemical), marking an increase of seven compared to last year. With a quarter of its sold production outside the EU and US markets, the company’s transparency score is affected.
In Category 2, there’s room for improvement regarding the methodological assessment of intrinsic hazards for their full portfolio. The company mentions some examples, but it’s crucial to provide a comprehensive assessment. While Westlake states that reducing Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) is a goal, a clear public commitment to designing out SVHCs in new product development is needed. Although the company has expanded its sustainable product portfolio through acquisitions, they do not advertise safer alternatives on ChemSec’s Marketplace or any other third-party platform. Westlake currently lacks specific circular products and has seen an increase in hazardous waste.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Westlake produces or uses at least one persistent chemical. These substances are known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. These chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — instead build up over time, creating consequences that are becoming increasingly detrimental. Not only for human health and the environment but also for investors.Companies reliant on such chemicals risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating. They are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination and bodily injury. Westlake should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of persistent chemicals (or products that contain them). The company should publish a time-bound phase-out plan for each persistent chemical and a realistic road map with clear KPIs to track progress.
- 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 Westlake has 19 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a key improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Westlake 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
Westlake 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.