Environment, Safety, and Corporate Social Responsibility
Sustainability is an integral component of the ALTANA Group’s corporate strategy. All of our worldwide sites and all of our divisions are geared to it.
Sustainability is an integral component of the ALTANA Group’s corporate strategy. All of our worldwide sites and all of our divisions are geared to it.Sustainability is extremely important to ALTANA. We view it as a combination of economic efficiency, environmental and health protection, and corporate social responsibility. We document our progress in our annual Sustainability Report, which can be downloaded or ordered at www.altana.com/ sustainability. A compact overview is provided on the pages to follow.
The basis of our actions is the internationally valid voluntary initiative of the chemical industry called Responsible Care. All of the Group’s managing directors personally signed it.
ALTANA is a member of the United Nations Global Compact initiative, which some 13,000 companies and organizations from 170 countries have joined. In Germany, we support the sustainability initiative “Chemie³,” which was called into being by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE), and the German Federation of Chemical Employers (BAVC).
We deal with resources responsibly. In doing so, we pursue three objectives. First, we make a concerted effort to use raw materials, water, and energy as sustainably as possible in production. Second, we try to reduce emissions wherever possible, particularly carbon-dioxide (CO²) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Third, we are steadily improving our production and production yields to minimize the amount of waste and wastewater. We made further progress in all three areas in 2015.
Certified management systems are the main instrument we use to control and guide our resource consumption. Each site is required to become certified according to the internationally valid environmental management system ISO 14001. ALTANA has nearly completed this procedure. Only a few sites acquired recently are still in the process of becoming certified. In addition, all of our German sites either already have introduced a certified management system or are in the process of doing so. The holding company in Wesel successfully completed its energy audit last year.
In the year under review, we had the various sustainability activities of the ALTANA Group evaluated for the first time. An online assessment was made by the internationally active company Eco Vadis by means of a questionnaire and a document check. We received the silver rating. We have provided our customers with detailed results of the assessment on the Eco Vadis supplier portal.
Energy Efficiency and Reduction of CO² Emissions
Reducing specific CO² emissions has been a key component of ALTANA’s sustainability strategy since 2007. At that time, we set ourselves the goal of cutting these emissions by 30 % by 2020. To quantify the emissions, we relate the amount of climate-relevant emissions to gross value added, which is the sum of EBITDA and personnel expenses.
The specific emissions of the Group as a whole decreased by 10 % compared to the previous year. This result is particularly remarkable because the energy-intensive operations that we acquired in 2013 also made a first important contribution to reducing emissions in the year under review. Compared to the emissions in 2007, the emissions in 2015 decreased by 12 %.
This progress was possible thanks to various energy efficiency measures taken by our individual companies. In the year under review, these measures included steps to improve heat recovery (at the sites in Tongling, China, and Ankleshwar, India) and changing energy sources (at the sites in Bremen and Hartenstein, Germany) to reduce emissions arising during production. Furthermore, a number of sites have pushed ahead their plans to erect especially efficient combined heat and power plants. We were also able to considerably improve energy efficiency by modifying or erecting new laboratory buildings (at the site in Ascoli, Italy).
Reduction of Further Emissions
Organic solvents are indispensable for the manufacture of a number of products. To protect employees and the environment, we reduce the resulting VOC emissions with the help of special exhaust air treatment facilities. In the year under review, our sites in Deventer (the Netherlands) and Quattordio (Italy) expanded and optimized their plants, respectively.
The use of closed systems is another proven method of cutting VOC emissions. In the year under review, our Italian sites in Ascoli and Collecchio made progress in this area by installing special raw material tanks.
With a new filter system, our U.S. site in Painesville, Ohio, has helped reduce the amount of dust that accumulates when copper is processed for pigment manufacture.
Many of ALTANA’s products make a decisive contribution to reducing emissions. An increasing number of our additives and pigments, as well as our paints and coatings, are conceived for use in solvent-free, water-based, or other low-emission products. Examples are the additives we developed expressly for powder coatings. They help reduce VOC emissions.
Moreover, we refrain from using critical raw materials in manufacture wherever possible, or use alternatives. In the year under review, for instance, we managed to replace the solvent NEP (N-ethyl-2-pyrrolidone), which is classified as a reproductive toxicant, with alternatives in three products.
In keeping with the “Global Product Strategy,” a worldwide voluntary initiative on the part of the chemical industry, we publish safety-relevant information for substances we have registered in compliance with REACH on the Internet, as long as they are not protected as confidential information. That, too, is part of our product responsibility.
Safety and Health Protection
In 2015, we had 14 significant incidents according to the definition of the German Chemical Industry Association. In one of them, an employee suffered slight injuries. In eleven cases, no harm was done to the environment because we were able to catch the substances released in catch basins installed expressly for such incidents. In the remaining three cases, there were no special retention tanks. In one of these cases, soil was contaminated, but we took measures immediately and were able to eliminate the contamination. The other two incidents had no environmental impact.
We consider the improvement of our safety culture, especially occupational safety, to be a continual task of our management and employees. To this end, we have developed various measures depending on the site. As a result, in the year under review the ALTANA Group was able to achieve almost all of the safety objectives it set itself, as the tables on page 72 show.
We also pushed forward our health protection in 2015, adopting various measures. At its Wesel site, BYK had its health management system audited and certified. We achieved very good results. Since last year, employees at all of ALTANA’s German sites have been able to take advantage of the anonymous (telephone) consulting offered by the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to help solve problems. Among other things, this offer helps prevent against psychological disorders such as burnout.
Work Accident Indicator 1 – WAI 1 (number of occupational accidents with lost work time of one day or more per million working hours)
Work Accident Indicator 2 – WAI 2 (number of occupational accidents with lost work time of more than three days per million working hours)
Work Accident Indicator 3 – WAI 3 (number of lost work days due to occupational accidents per million working hours)
Corporate Social Responsibility
We assume corporate social responsibility in various ways. At the center of our involvement is the promotion of educational and science projects near our sites. With these measures, we intend to arouse the enthusiasm of children and youth, in particular, for natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science.
The continuity of our commitment is important to us. Therefore, we promote many projects over a longer period of time. This applies especially to the “House of Junior Researchers” in Wesel. With this project, we enable pre- and elementary- school children to acquire their first scientific knowledge. In 2015, we also continued the so-called educational coaching in Wesel, which serves to individually promote children with a migration background or children who are socially disadvantaged. Continuity also applies to the scholarships we offered to students in Germany and abroad once again in 2015.
In addition, we sponsor the Germany-wide youth startups online competition “Jugend gründet,” awarding a special prize in the field of chemistry. In 2015, it went to a team of students from Baden-Württemberg. The prize consisted of a several-day trip to BYK USA in Wallingford, where the prizewinners visited one of our largest additives research and production sites.
In 2015, ALTANA sent an employee from China and a high-school teacher from Wesel on an Antarctic expedition organized by the British polar researcher Robert Swan and his initiative “2041.” They returned as sustainability ambassadors who promote improved climate protection and sustainable action at ALTANA, in schools and beyond.
In light of current events, we made donations for humanitarian aid in 2015. First, we asked our employees to donate money following the earthquake in Nepal in April, in cooperation with the “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” coalition, and we doubled the sum collected to € 50,250. The money was used to implement various aid measures in schools and education in the Himalayan community of Ghangphedi. In addition, we allocated € 250,000 for special German courses for refugees offered by the Malteser Hilfsdienst across Germany.