Facts & figures

Environmental protection

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Commitment, principles & goals

We are committed to conserving natural resources as well as mitigating our impact on the environment. Our responsibility to the environment is an extension of our Values and our Group strategy. Adherence to our Values is a key component of the our Code of Conduct, which is described under Principles 1 and 2.

The policy document underlying environmental impact mitigation is the EHS Policy described under Principles 3, 4, 5, and 6.

We aim to continually improve our performance by utilizing energy, water and materials economically and efficiently. In addition to this, we seek to boost our energy efficiency in order to reduce CO2 emissions, thus mitigating our impact on the global climate. We have set ourselves the goal of reducing our total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 20% by 2020, relative to the 2006 baseline. For 2016, as in the four preceding years, the Executive Board has once more earmarked funds specifically for measures to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We strive to continually enhance the sustainability footprint of our products, developing suitable product and process innovations in order to do so. At the same time, we seek for our products to minimize not only our own environmental impacts, but those of our customers as well. In doing so, the safety and ethical conformity of our products is always our top priority.

Taking action and gauging the results

Measures to mitigate our impact on the environment have been implemented in our production processes in the form of the EHS management system described under Principles 3, 4, 5, and 6.

  • EDISON program for climate impact mitigation and energy efficiency: We have consolidated our climate impact mitigation and energy efficiency activities into the EDISON program. Under this program, energy audits are conducted at various sites and energy saving processes implemented. Since 2012, we have initiated more than 400 EDISON projects Group-wide, around 60% of which have already been or are being rolled out.

    Through these efforts, we are aiming to cut CO2 emissions by about 90,000 metric tons per year in the medium term. In 2015, we lowered our greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8% relative to the 2006 baseline, despite growth in our operating business.
  • EHS audits: The aforementioned internal EHS audits serve to scrutinize our company's compliance with those regulatory requirements, standards, and business requirements specifically relating to environmental impact mitigation activities.

    In 2015, our annual external audit once more confirmed our group certificate for our ISO 14001 environmental management system.

    In addition to this, we conduct supplier audits (described under Principles 1 and 2) to ensure that our vendors are adhering to environmental standards.
  • EHS data management: Our Group-wide EHS data management system is used to regularly collect environmentally relevant data at our individual sites and relay it to the EQ Group function. In 2015, we emitted a total of 518,000 metric tons of CO2, which represents an 8% reduction from 2006 levels.
  • Product safety management: Through our Group-wide Product Safety Chemicals policy, we have established global processes for defining, steering and implementing product safety, and have also established the corresponding management structures to do so. This policy incorporates all relevant national and international chemical regulations, such as the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and its implementation in regional legislation (such as the CLP regulation in the EU and HazCom in the United States), the EU chemicals regulation REACH, the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the German federal law on protection from hazardous substances (ChemG). The policy also incorporates legal standards that relate to the transport of hazardous substances, biocides, cosmetics, chemicals used in food and animal feed, etc.

    The Group Product Safety Committee (GPSC) initiates and steers the measures needed to respond to regulatory requirement changes worldwide; our Executive Board Member responsible for chemical product safety is a member of this committee. Corporate Regulatory Affairs, a department within the Group function Environment Health Safety Security Quality (EQ), is responsible for compliance with the relevant regulatory requirements for product safety, a responsibility that it shares with local units as well.
  • Product development: In line with the Green3 concept, our Performance Materials business sector offers our customers products that improve the sustainability of their own products - for instance our innovative materials for energy-efficient displays. We furthermore help our customers develop more environmentally sustainable production processes. To meet the requirements of the WEEE Directive (EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive), we have developed recycling methods for used LC (Liquid Crystal) displays. We have also expanded the Green3 concept to include cosmetic products in our Performance Materials business sector. Here, we are working to sustainably source and manufacture cosmetic actives, as well as to optimize the associated production processes.

    Through our Green Product Policy, we have committed ourselves to complying with all international and country-specific laws and regulations (REACH, RoHS EU Directive) for products from our Performance Materials business sector. This policy also includes voluntary substance bans and self-imposed restrictions, such as our Halogen-free Policy. Our voluntary safety policy furthermore forbids the use of acutely toxic, mutagenic, or otherwise hazardous substances that remain present in the end product.

    As part of the Design for Sustainability program, our Life Science business sector has developed a process to drive sustainability across the product development process. This program is also aimed at reducing our customers' own environmental impacts, including their carbon footprint and water use. An analysis in 2015 showed that around 12% of our Life Science products (only includes our former life science tools business - excludes Sigma-Aldrich, which was acquired in November 2015) exhibit one or more of the sustainability aspects that we've defined.