Vision of Heike Faulhammer, Sustainable Development Vice President
In 2015 we made progress in all five of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments, namely environmental footprint, innovations, stakeholder dialogue, safety and employee development. We owe these improvements to strong employee engagement. Heike Faulhammer, Sustainable Development Vice President, tells us more about the Group’s CSR commitment.
3 questions to Heike Faulhammer, Arkema Sustainable Development Vice President
How did Arkema do on CSR in 2015?
Heike Faulhammer > We continued to improve in line with our sustainable development policy commitments. On the environmental front, we shrank our carbon footprint some more. In all, we have slashed our emissions of greenhouse gases by 64% and of volatile organic compounds by 43% in the last 10 years. Facility upgrades and a push for operational excellence by our organizations are paying off.
At the same time we’ve stepped up our investment in future-oriented solutions: nearly a third of the 193 patents Arkema filed in 2015 focused on sustainability issues such as bio-based materials, new energies, water treatment, lighter materials and sustainable housing. We expect the percentage of sustainability-focused patents to reach 50% in the relatively near future. We’ve also strengthened our dialogue with stakeholders. During 2015, we implemented over a thousand Common Ground® initiatives around the world, half of them with people living or working near our plants.
To what do you attribute your progress?
Heike Faulhammer > At Arkema, CSR is not the preserve of a single department. CSR policy must be part of our daily life and operations to be worthwhile and beneficial for both stakeholders and the company. Employee buyin and support are pivotal and stem from the development of our people as we adapt to a changing world — another basic cornerstone of our CSR policy.
We rely on our employees, empower them and prepare them for the challenges to come. In return, they’re involved and engaged. Safety is a great example. Our total recordable injury rate (TRIR)1 for 2015 is 1.5, on par with the best in the chemical industry, thanks in part to 190,000 hours of targeted health, safety and environmental training during 2015. In addition, our CSR performance is hard to miss and is recognized outside Arkema, in the ratings from Vigeo, EcoVadis and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for example, and through our inclusion in sustainability indexes such as FTSE4Good.
COP21 was held in Paris in 2015. What role did Arkema play in what will go down in history as the first universal climate agreement?
Heike Faulhammer > Arkema is among the businesses that will help meet the Paris Agreement goals set at COP21. Through our commitments and concrete actions, we continue to shrink our environmental footprint. Progress will be made both in our plants and for our customers, by offering them technological solutions that promote sustainability.
Arkema participated in various COP21-related events: we attended the Business & Climate Summit held in Paris in June 2015 during the preparation phase, and we were a principal sponsor of the Arche de Noé Climat, or Climate Noah’s Ark, a traveling exhibition to educate the public about climate issues. A
highlight was our signing of the French Companies Act on Climate, an initiative by
39 major French companies that sets goals in anticipation of COP21.