The greening of the chemical sector: How chemical companies can meet their sustainability objectives

Maria Almenar, Group Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) and Sustainability Director at chemical distribution company Azelis, talks to Chemicals Knowledge Hub about the importance of maintaining sustainable business practices and gives practical advice on how chemical industry companies can achieve their sustainability objectives.


KH: What exactly does Azelis mean by ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable business

practices’, and for how long has the company seen the achievement of sustainability in its operations as a desirable objective?

MA: “To Azelis, sustainability is about the responsibility we have as a company and as a community to contribute to a sustainablefuture. We are part of a global industry that plays a significant role in the economy of the world and we have an obligation to utilize the world’s resources in a sustainable manner. Aligned with our brand promise ‘Innovation through formulation’, it’s our aspiration to contribute to a more sustainable future by connecting and empowering both customers and principals to work on the development of sustainable chemical solutions through innovation. Our innovations catalyze sustainability in the market segments we serve and their value chains, and will help realize concepts such as the circular economy. “Sustainable organic growth has been at the core of Azelis’ business model from the beginning. Our sustainability ambitionshave been captured in a more formalized way since the creation of our sustainability programme back in 2015 and have now entered a new phase as we are launching our 2025 sustainability strategy. In an ever-changing industry and world,


Azelis’ ambitions for a sustainable future will never stop.”

CKH: When did the company first start putting sustainable operations in place, what did these new initiatives consist of and what were they designed to achieve, how successful have they been, and which of them are still part of the company’s approach to its operations?

MA: “Azelis’ focus on sustainability is not new; our journey started in 2015 when we defined our sustainability programme, following the Paris Agreement on climate change and the release of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nations. We have based our programme on the United Nations Global Compact (UN GC) initiative, ISO 26000 and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), as well as on the UN SDG (Sustainable Development Goals). The Azelis sustainability programme is built on four pillars – People, Products & Innovation, Governance, and Environment. For each pillar we have defined specific goals and key performance indicators. With every pillar, we also contribute to selected SDGs, 13 of them in total (out of 17). “As we have such a comprehensive sustainability programme covering all our operations, I’d like to highlight only a few of our initiatives. Product stewardship is one of the essential features of a truly sustainable product offering.Being a global

To cater to the sustainable product demand of our customers, our application labs increasingly strive to offer sustainable innovations and concepts. We firmlybelieve in ‘Innovation through formulation’ and have been investing heavily in our application laboratories to be able to fulfil this brand promise

annually, which led in 2015 to our first, Bronze, rating, followed by a Silver one in 2017 and our first Gold rating in 2018. In 2020, we received our second, consecutive Gold rating. Also in 2021, we will continue with our EcoVadis assessments and we are working hard to keep up the positive trend of our scores.Having the EcoVadis Gold rating was also an important prerequisite to join Together for Sustainability in 2020, a truly sustainable initiative for the chemical industry for the evaluation of supply chains. TfS counts 29 members today, representing a global turnover of

€349 billion of companies in the chemical industry and a global spend of €227 billion. Operating as a unique, member-driven organization and peer-to-peer network, TfS member companies shape the future of the chemical industry together.

Another example of an initiative

distributor, Azelis has a strong and longstanding product stewardship policy in orderto ensure that our products are compliant with local and regional legislation and thatinformation is provided through the entire supply chain to guarantee the safe handling of chemicals and minimize risks to the environment. “Soon after the creation of our sustainability programme, we also committed to gathering our CSR indicators yearly to measure our progress and our company’s sustainability business practices are assessed by EcoVadis

that was launched early on and is still a very important guiding tool for our employee development and wellbeing is our Employee Satisfaction Survey. Since the start of this initiative, we have systematically monitored the degree of engagement, motivation and loyaltyof our employees by means of an anonymous Employee Satisfaction Survey. We are proud to stand out in our industry for placing importance on regularly reviewing the feedback of our employees. The survey focuses on eight drivers of engagement, namely: Reputation, Azelis ExCom, Supervisor, Collaboration, Working

March/April 2021 • Issue 2

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