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.
Committed from the beginning to creating social and economic value while preserving the environment, the Group has developed a strong policy of social responsibility supported by concrete programs and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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?
Increasingly, our role as a manufacturer is to use our expertise and our innovation 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 provides the essential materials for all downstream industrial sectors.
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, which we deploy throughout our value chain through three major commitments:
- to offer sustainable solutions driven by innovation,
- to be a responsible manufacturer,
- to cultivate open dialogue and close relations with our stakeholders.
As part of this commitment, and in the context of the Covid-19 health crisis, Arkema took action for its employees and the local communities around its facilities. In addition to this crisis, which highlights inequalities, Arkema is committed to education and social inclusion through its philanthropic initiatives.
Our CSR policy is not fixed; we are constantly adapting it to the growing expectations of 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 growing expectations of our stakeholders. In addition to the ongoing dialogue in the business relationship, Arkema periodically conducts materiality analyses, a formal stakeholder survey to rank the company's societal challenges by degree of importance.
The latest analysis conducted in 2019 guided us in validating and strengthening our actions on priority topics such as climate change, circular economy, product stewardship and workplace safety and well-being. Each of these priorities is subject to comprehensive programs and ambitious targets.
Interview with Virginie Delcroix in FORBES' Business Inside
Sustainable solutions are at the core of Arkema's customer supply. What does this involve?
First and foremost, it should be reminded that the Group has placed sustainable innovation at the heart of its growth strategy since its creation. The five innovation platforms which are lightweight materials and design, electronic solutions, new energies, home efficiency and insulation, and natural resources management support this dynamic.
In 2020 we made significant progress on our PARCHEMEDES program, a process initiated in 2018 to systematically assess our sales portfolio for its contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
We have targeted to reach 65% of ImpACT+* sales by 2030. Based on 50% by the end of 2020 and to achieve this strategic goal, we are implementing voluntary actions on three key drivers: continuous improvement of solutions, sustainable innovation for products and applications, and active promotion of ImpACT+ solutions.
The ZEBRA project launched in 2020 is a particularly good example of sustainable innovation for the circular economy and new energies. The ZEBRA (Zero wastE Blade ReseArch) project is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that aims to design and manufacture the first 100% recyclable wind turbine blade, using Elium® thermoplastic resin, a particular innovative technology that holds promise for many applications.
Also in the area of the circular economy, the Virtucycle™ recycling program allows customers to partner with Arkema in post-industrial and post-consumer recycling projects involving its specialty polymers.
*The percentage of sales contributing significantly to the United Nations SDGs (ImpACT+) was calculated on the basis of an assessment of 72% of the Group’s third-party sales in 2020.
It is crucial that we all take action to address the climate emergency, and it is our responsibility and in our common interest to act quickly"
Arkema has defined an even more ambitious climate plan. What are the main guidelines and challenges?
It is crucial that we all take action to address the climate emergency, and it is our responsibility and in our common interest to act quickly. For Arkema, contributing to the fight against global warming by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has long been a strategic objective.
At the end of 2019, we decided to review our previous, already achieved goal with a new, more ambitious target for 2030: to reduce our GHG emissions** by 38% compared to 2015 and thus reach less than 3 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030, regardless of the increase in production volumes. This science-based target, aligned with the Paris Agreement, allows us to make our contribution to keeping global warming well below 2°C.
Each of our business lines is called upon to contribute to this reduction. Optimisation and innovation of industrial processes, continuous improvement of energy efficiency and the purchase of electricity from increasingly low-carbon sources are our main levers for action. At the end of 2020, the decrease in emissions is fully in line with our 2030 target.
** Direct emissions from Scope 1 + ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) and indirect emissions from Scope 2.
How is Arkema's CSR performance perceived?
Externally, we are very proud to see Arkema recognized for its progress in CSR, in particular through its listing in the DJSI World index and, more recently, its inclusion in the French CAC40 ESG index.
This recognition is also an encouragement to continue and accelerate our actions, including innovation for an ever more sustainable product range, fight against global warming, and development of the circular economy, which remain priorities in the transition to a more sustainable world.