What does Sustainability mean to the European lubricants industry?

We all know what sustainability means, right? It’s an easy question to ask but experience suggests that it isn’t actually an easy question to answer. Responses are often varied and are reflective of the values of an individual or an organisation. Some organisations have a deep understanding and detailed knowledge with sustainability being an integral part of the organisation’s strategy, reflecting its values and goals, and it provides an opportunity for genuine competitive advantage. For others, sustainability is a complicated affair and is difficult to implement, perhaps driven by concerns reflecting cost of implementation and availability of people. There are then others who view sustainability as not something for them, something that’s just not important, maybe it’s just the latest passing fad, or it’s just something those Europeans do!

Sustainability touches all our lives in some way or another and there is growing commitment from all kinds of industries and organisations towards a more sustainable future, anchored to the three pillars of environment, economy and society. Investors and shareholders are increasingly looking to use environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics to analyse an organisations ethical impact and sustainability practices. Prospective employees are increasingly concerned about the sustainability credentials of future employers.

In 2019, the UEIL Sustainability Task Force defined sustainability from the perspective of the European lubricants industry and identified four UN SDGs which reflect its core values:

In June 2020, UEIL established a Sustainability Committee with the intention of providing guidance to define, develop and measure sustainability in the European lubricants industry, to address misconceptions on the industry’s sustainability capacities, and to take part in the ongoing discussions on sustainability at EU and international levels.

However, as an industry group it was recognised that UEIL currently lacks a clear understanding as to what sustainability means to UEIL members and how it is reflected in their strategies. Through the recently launched Sustainability Survey of its member companies and associations, UEIL aims to define benchmarks, to provide clarity about members needs and to inform stakeholders, including UEIL members, UEIL Sustainability Working Groups, regulators and the public.

The sustainability survey targets the concerns of members and will provide a baseline for future surveys, enabling the industry to reflect on the progress that inevitably will have to follow under the spotlight of the European Green Deal.

The survey was designed to address organisations of all sizes within the supply chain, from raw material and components suppliers, lubricant blenders, lubricant marketer, support services and others. It sought to establish whether companies have already implemented sustainability strategies and to determine which objectives they have included (economic, social, environmental and governance).

The survey also asked respondents to reflect on the main drivers and influencers for implementing a sustainability strategy. For some companies, sustainability is a reflection of their corporate brand or values but at the other end of the scale it may simply be a response to customer pressure or

Continued on page 42 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.163 JUNE 2021 41

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