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Eco-efficiency

We met our Vision 2015 environmental goals on emissions and product sustainability.

Carbon emissions

Public policies in many regions of the world are responding to climate change and the challenge to reduce society’s carbon footprint. This is apparent from international agreements supplemented with multiple national or regional initiatives and commitments. Umicore is present in many product and service areas that can make a positive contribution to the world’s energy and carbon footprint challenges and our Vision 2015 strategy identified significant growth opportunities in industries that are linked to the response to these challenges, for example electrified cars and recycling.

In terms of our operations, we chose to pursue specific actions to reduce our carbon footprint and to further increase energy efficiency. In order to frame this approach we introduced an energy efficiency and carbon footprint policy in 2011.

The main pillar of this policy was the Group objective to achieve by 2015 a 20% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions compared to the reference year 2006 and using the same scope of activities as 2006 (see note E3 for more details).

Other aspects covered by the policy are:

  • Capital investments: all capital investments must be reviewed for carbon neutrality.
  • Acquisitions: we will incorporate carbon intensity criteria in our assessment of acquisitions.
  • People and mobility: all employees are to be encouraged to make use of low carbon or carbon neutral mobility.
  • Scope 3 CO2 emissions: we will participate actively in the development of an appropriate accounting system of our Scope 3 emissions so that we can demonstrate the contribution of our products and services to a low carbon economy.

By the end of 2015 we had achieved a 26% reduction compared to the 2006 benchmark year. This means that for equivalent production levels we emitted 26% less in carbon equivalent.

The achievement of the target has been driven by a combination of specific internal projects and external factors. Energy efficiency projects, changes in our own fuel mix, and projects aiming at a better use of our production capacity all contributed to the reduction in carbon emissions. However, the raw materials mix played a significant role in determining CO2e emissions with the recycling processes for some residue streams requiring less energy and emitting lower levels of CO2 equivalent than for other residue streams. The level of scope 2 emissions also contributed to the reduction as a result of a less carbon-intensive energy mix on average in the countries where Umicore operates, particularly in Europe.

For those sites that were part of Umicore at the end of 2010, and excluding the activity adjustment for measuring progress against the objective, the absolute CO2e emissions at the end of 2015 were at the same level as the emissions in 2006 despite the increase in production. Please see the environmental statement E3 for full details.

In the scope of Horizon 2020, Umicore will focus on making and reporting on further improvements in energy efficiency. The learning of the past five years indicates that specific carbon emission reduction targets are no longer appropriate given the significant impact of external factors that lie beyond Umicore’s control.