Implementing sustainable management means acting with a long-term orientation. This perspective combines the protection of natural foundations of life with responsible management and economic thinking. That is how we put it in our first sustainability report in 2010, and this maxim remains unchanged. Yet with successes we face growing challenges – challenges that require us to be open to new things, as Dr. Gerald Kirchner knows. The new head of ALTANA’s Environment, Health & Safety (EH & S) department is planning to bolster sustainability as a corporate value.
WITH OUR NEW EXPERT PLATFORMS, WE BRING TOGETHER KNOWLEDGE. AS A RESULT, IN THE FUTURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO OFFER OUR CUSTOMERS EVEN BETTER SERVICE AROUND THE SUSTAINABILITY OF OUR PRODUCTS.
Sustainability as a Corporate Value
Our signing of Global Compact, the development of concrete targets for environmental and health protection, and Groupwide key performance indicators: these are just a few of the milestones of our sustainability strategy. They show how important it is to develop measures with which we can measure sustainable management in our companies. It is our firm conviction that only when something is measured can it be shaped in a future-oriented way.
With this in mind, we have set ourselves a new goal. “We want to develop sustainability into a distinct corporate value,” explains Dr. Gerald Kirchner, who has headed ALTANA’s EH & S department since October 2015. He wants sustainability – like economic factors – to become an assessable value for the Group as a whole. Thus, in the future sustainability will be on an equal footing with other factors, for example fixed assets and business capital, as well as innovative strength.
The most important prerequisite: Independently of our decentralized business model, we have to establish uniform criteria across our companies that enable them to mold their sustainability strategy. To this end, a continuous exchange of information is needed. At the suggestion of Dr. Kirchner and his predecessor Dr. Andreas Diez, the Management Board launched four expert platforms across ALTANA in October 2015.
Experts from all over the world work on the platforms. They bring together knowledge on key issues that concern all ALTANA companies. In the process, they create synergies and help avoid redundancies. The result will be internationally comparable, efficient, and transparent processes. First, the platforms address the process of data management pertaining to regulatory matters. This includes the European regulation REACH, the Globally Harmonized System of Labeling Chemicals (GHS), and regional laws. Second, they examine how we review and verify our products’ compatibility with food. Third, they investigate the efficiency of our products, with a special focus on lifecycle analysis. Fourth, we intend to further develop the EH & S key indicators.
Best Practice Models
“The platforms create a framework within which the companies can work out best-practice models and exchange ideas about them,” explains Dr. Kirchner.
The experts on the platforms are not only available as contact partners within the company. Externally, too, they are well-versed contacts for customers and business partners, for the specialized public, and for associations. If, for example, new laws or regulations that affect our industry are up for discussion in the future, we can rely on the knowledge of these experts in order to contribute to opinion formation as a group.
“At the end of the day, it is a question of whether we can concentrate our expertise even better,” says Dr. Kirchner. “Only then can we continue to offer our customers the added value they are accustomed to from us: reliable, comprehensive support that goes far beyond products and specific applications.” To sum it up in one word: service.
Dr. Gerald Kirchner began his career as Head of Product Development at BYK. Subsequently, he built up the company’s innovation management and global organization in the area of product safety and advanced BYK’s sustainability management.
As Head of EH & S at ALTANA, he seeks to make the Group’s sustainability management even more measurable.