“Big business has an essential role to play in the transition our society must accomplish”
Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a major issue for Arkema and its stakeholders. Combined with financial performance, it allows us to define the Group’s sustainability model.
The Group remains committed to its founding principle of acting in an exemplary manner. It defines its policy to maximize its contribution to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and adopted ambitious new programs and targets in 2019. We hear from Virginie Delcroix, Vice President, Sustainable Development.
With increasing pressures on resources and energy, a growing population, climate change, and the environmental crisis, we face many challenges on a planetary scale in the next decade. How does a Group like Arkema contribute to the changes that must take place in society?
Virginie Delcroix – Increasingly, our role as a manufacturer is to use our capacity for innovation and value creation to contribute to a more sustainable world. Sustainable development includes social and economic progress for all, particularly to fulfill the essential needs (food, health, mobility, wellbeing) of a growing population, while drastically reducing its impact on the environment and the climate.
Business, starting with the big industrial groups, needs to play a major role in energy transition and the adoption of more resource efficient production methods. This is particularly true in chemicals, which has a direct effect on these problems.
With this in mind, we are moving well beyond regulatory requirements and have set our own voluntary targets. This is the purpose of our CSR policy, through three main commitments – to offer sustainable solutions driven by innovation, to be a responsible manufacturer and to cultivate open dialogue and close relations with our stakeholders.
What concrete actions is the Group taking to define and implement its CSR policy?
Our CSR policy is not fixed; we are constantly adapting it to the expectations of our stakeholders, with whom we are in regular communication. To this end, at the beginning of 2019, Arkema carried out its second “materiality assessment” following the first one in 2016. This took the form of an online survey in seven countries, as well as individual interviews, to question a wide panel of the Group’s internal and external stakeholders – clients, suppliers, partners, investors, employees – on the CSR issues they judge to be most important.
This assessment is helping us to focus our actions on priority themes such as climate change, sustainable innovation and safety, and to identify issues of growing importance such as the circular economy and work/life balance for employees. We have used the findings to shape our CSR policy, set targets and launch programs.
"Our CSR policy is not fixed; we are constantly adapting it to the expectations of our stakeholders."
On the topic of the circular economy, the Virtucycle® project was defined in 2019 to organize the recycling of our specialty polymers, alongside the MMAtwo project to recycle PMMAs.
More generally, in 2019 we made significant progress with our Portfolio Sustainability Assessment. This is a systematic assessment of how our solutions contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which Arkema has been working towards for the past four years.
To be a responsible manufacturer, we must choose what we produce but also how we produce it...
Absolutely. The safety of people and procedures is a constant priority and we are permanently reducing our environmental impact. We aim for excellence in the way we conduct our operations, through our choice of manufacturing procedures and a process of constant improvement, and through our energy purchasing and resource management policies.
"Our commitment to respect the Paris Agreement positions Arkema among the most proactive and ambitious chemicals manufacturers for our efforts to limit global warming."
We have made considerable progress in recent years on all these fronts through programs such as Arkenergy, to optimize our energy efficiency, and Optim’O, to ensure we manage our water resources responsibly. By 2018, we had already achieved three of our four strategic environmental targets for 2025. This year, we have therefore set ourselves even more ambitious goals for 2030 (see p.20). Our commitment to respect the Paris Agreement positions Arkema among the most proactive and ambitious chemicals manufacturers for our efforts to limit global warming.