ALTANA’s Understanding of Sustainability
ALTANA consistently gears its activities to sustained profitable growth. But we can only achieve economic success in the long run if we also bear in mind ecological and social aspects and anchor them firmly in our company.
Our understanding of sustainability as a triad of economy, ecology, and corporate social responsibility is also reflected in ALTANA’s mission, which was sharpened again in the 2016 fiscal year:
We provide innovative solutions based on integrated chemical, formulation, and application expertise that make products of daily life better and more sustainable.
Our solutions open up growth or savings potential for our customers and can change entire markets.
As a result, we create value for our customers, employees, shareholder, and society as a whole.
The View of our Stakeholders
As a globally manufacturing specialty chemicals company, ALTANA has diverse stakeholders with whom the Group and its different companies maintain regular contact and exchange. The content and results of these dialogs are among the factors that inform ALTANA’s understanding of sustainability.
The group of ALTANA’s most important stakeholders comprises our customers, our employees, and our shareholder. It also includes suppliers and other business partners, public authorities, associations, nongovernmental organizations, and our neighbors at the different locations.
To define the important sustainability issues for this report, we conducted a survey in 2016. Of the 46 sustainability criteria of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), 29 were initially selected as criteria relevant for ALTANA. In a second step, these criteria were presented to 27 stakeholders who were asked to tell us which criteria they thought were the 15 most important ones and to rank them. Representatives of stakeholder groups (management, employees, customers) took part in the survey.
The results are shown in the current materiality matrix (see graphic on the next page). It shows the 11 most important criteria from the point of view of the stakeholders and documents the different priorities.
They include occupational health and safety, economic performance, emissions, effluents and waste, customer health and safety, products, energy, materials, water, procurement practices, as well as environmental protection expenditures and investments.
This overview does not contain GRI criteria resulting from the survey that ALTANA adheres to as a matter of course. This includes, for instance, unconditional implementation of all legal specifications in the countries and regions in which ALTANA is active, fulfillment of legal guidelines regarding environmental protection and product safety, condemnation of child labor, adherence to human rights, and the non-discrimination requirement.
Overall, the analysis shows that nearly all important aspects have similar relevance for internal and external stakeholders.
ALTANA will regularly update this materiality analysis in the future.
Objective Evaluation of Sustainability
To be able to measure not only the company’s business performance but also its involvement in all areas of sustainability, alongside key performance indicators and certified management systems, ALTANA is using external evaluations increasingly. The audits of the rating company EcoVadis and the Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative of the chemical industry play a special role.
In 2016, ALTANA had itself evaluated by EcoVadis for the second time and was awarded the Gold Status. As a result, the Group improved significantly compared to 2015, when it received Silver Status. EcoVadis, which analyzes environmental aspects, procurement policy, compliance, and working conditions of companies based on the international sustainability guideline ISO 26000, has become one of the world’s leading ratings platforms for the chemical industry. 20,000 companies are now registered with it.
The Group used the good result as impetus to prepare all of its sites for an EcoVadis audit. In the year under review, six sites in Germany, Italy, Spain, and China completed their preparations; all of the other sites will follow, step by step, in the next few years.
The TfS audit is based on a globally uniform sustainability standard and thus is also one of the most important rankings in this area. ECKART was the Group’s first company to successfully complete this several-day audit at its site in Zhuhai, China, at the beginning of 2016. The company swiftly implemented the few improvements suggested in the report in the course of the year.
Decentralized Responsibility Structures
To achieve its strategic targets, ALTANA relies on the Group’s proven decentralized structures, for which the holding company sets the framework. These structures include binding group guidelines for environmental protection, health, and safety.
The managing directors of the respective companies bear entrepreneurial responsibility for the implementation of the strategic targets. Among other things, they are required to continuously reduce the environmental effects of their business activities. They are also in charge of anchoring the Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) department in the company’s organization and for setting up a corresponding cross-site reporting system for the centrally prescribed key performance indicators. In 2016, BYK was the first division to create a worldwide EH&S organization with responsible persons for each site. Furthermore, the managing directors are also responsible for the introduction and certification of suitable management systems with which environmental protection and occupational safety can be practiced on the basis of international guidelines at the different sites.
Independently of this decentralized organization of responsibility, the holding company is committed to providing knowledge and expertise on sustainability. This is the task of ALTANA’s Corporate EH&S specialist department. In addition, special, cross-divisional expert platforms foster the exchange of information on the relevant EH&S topics (for example energy, sustainability performance, and food contact) and the development of best-practice models that show efficient implementations. Consequently, in the future we will be able to offer our customers even better service around sustainability at ALTANA.