Sustainable Products & Services
OF REVENUES FROM CLEAN MOBILITY & RECYCLING
CUSTOMERS IN 101 COUNTRIES
Our primary focus is on activities that provide solutions for clean mobility and resource scarcity
Umicore’s performance culminates in the products and services and the integrated value we offer society: delivering solutions for a cleaner environment, increasing the competencies of our employees, raising the standards in our supply chain and creating financial value for our shareholders as well as sustainable value for our stakeholders.
Umicore materials can be found in a variety of applications that deliver solutions for cleaner air and increased e-mobility while our unique closed-loop services turn waste metals into a resource. We provide advanced products that are built on our customers’ specific performance, environmental and sustainable sourcing needs.
Beyond this customer-oriented approach, we provide close collaboration across all regions to deliver a sustainable and secure supply of high-quality products and services. Our high level of investment in R&D ensures advanced and efficient production and process technologies that enable our customers to meet the most stringent sustainability demands and ambitions. Umicore’s diverse workforce brings global perspectives to our innovation and works in proximity to our international customer markets. Our ambition to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2035 will enable Umicore to offer products with a reduced carbon footprint to our customers.
For more Umicore products and services, visit: UMICORE.COM/INDUSTRIES
To support our ambition to turn sustainability into a greater competitive advantage, it is essential to develop a full understanding of the impact that our products have on the world. These insights can then be leveraged to improve the footprint of our products and services. Umicore’s business units work with corporate EHS on life cycle assessments (LCAs) to identify the environmental impact of their products and services and set a baseline against which improvements can be measured. An LCA is a standardized, science-based tool used to define the degree of environmental impact of a given system or product1. LCAs take into account all phases of the product’s life cycle, including direct and indirect emissions, examine inputs and outputs for each phase, and convert them into an environmental impact measurement.
Building on the opportunities identified in such assessments, we leverage our unique combination of materials chemistry, energy mix and materials mix (raw and recycled) to improve our overall environmental impact and to contribute to lower-carbon mobility. Umicore will continue to develop selective products and services that have specific sustainability benefits and answer the growing sustainability needs of our customers. We are already working closely with customers and have started engaging with suppliers to reduce the upstream footprint of our products.
Among the impact categories calculated in an LCA, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions to climate change, expressed in CO2equivalent, is prioritized because of the urgent need to tackle global warming. Until Umicore reaches the Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target, our industrial operations will continue to emit. However, our products and recycling services have a positive impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain. First and foremost, as a key element of our closed-loop business model, the recovery of metals from secondary sources provides raw materials with a lower carbon footprint to society; and secondly, rechargeable battery materials accelerate the transition to low-carbon mobility.
In terms of avoided emissions (sometimes referred to as ‘scope 4’), Umicore examined in 2021 the activities linked to cathode materials for electric mobility and to recycling key raw materials. Based on those activities, we have estimated total avoided emissions from 2016 through 2020. In our calculations, a portion of our estimation was not allocated specifically to Umicore, to reflect the estimated shared contribution of the complete value chain. For more details about the assumptions considered for our calculations, see GHG emissions in the Environmental Statements. Based on these assumptions, calculations, and a limited set of activities, Umicore’s electric mobility products and recycling services avoided an estimated 35 million tonnes CO2equivalent from 2016 through 2020.
For electric mobility, we compared rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles with a medium passenger car with an internal combustion engine running on diesel or gasoline, considering the European split between diesel and gasoline from 2016 through 2020. Approximately 24 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided over 5 years - taking into account the production of the cathode materials, their processing into batteries, the use of the batteries in full electric vehicles and end-of-life recycling.
For our recycling activity, we compared Umicore’s secondary production with the primary production of an equivalent tonnage of each metal considered. The avoided emissions are close to 11 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions from 2016 through 2020.
Given the uncertainties involved in the assumptions, the figures should only be considered as estimates of the potential benefit for society. We aim to refine such calculations in the future, in particular by engaging with our suppliers and by working in close collaboration with our customers as part of our commitment to develop a target for our scope 3 emissions.
Worldwide, Umicore ensures regulatory compliance for the products it puts on the market. Our business might be impacted by changes to existing product-related legislation and by the introduction of new legislation. In terms of REACH legislation and newly proposed concepts such as the Chemical Strategy on Sustainability in the EU, Umicore closely monitors all changes in regulations, such as the ongoing revision of REACH and CLP, since this may affect its REACH implementation strategy. Umicore actively supported the engagement of the metals sector with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in the metals/inorganics sectorial approach (MISA) which officially terminated at the end of 2021.
In 2021, we submitted 16 additional substances for registration under REACH due to new business developments. As part of regular maintenance, we updated 96 REACH dossiers for reasons including changing the tonnage band, replying to ECHA requests and including new information. In Korea, Umicore successfully achieved the first Korea REACH (K-REACH) registration deadline at the end of 2021 with the registration of 11 substances including Lead Registrant roles. Umicore is preparing for the implementation of international chemicals regulations such as upcoming notifications and registrations for India. Umicore has successfully submitted the Downstream User Import Notifications (DUINs) for UK REACH and is preparing for the next steps of inquiries.
Beyond compliance, Umicore has a systematic approach to the hazard assessment of its portfolio of low volume chemicals, using a hierarchy of sources, from in-house data to publicly available information. The outcomes of the hazard assessments are stored in Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and shared directly with Umicore customers and partners. For more, see Umicore’s Product stewardship approach, here.
To be a preferred sustainable supplier, we work directly with our customers to meet their environmental requirements and disclose our own performance and ambitions. This involves collaborating with our customers to develop, produce and recycle metal-related materials for material-based solutions tailored to their needs. Ongoing interaction with customers is managed by the business units. In addition to this close contact, all business units have a customer feedback process to gauge customer satisfaction periodically.
In recent years, some customers have opted for a third-party sustainable supplier assessment. For these customers, Umicore discloses to the CDP.
For the second time, Umicore received the Platinum Medal in Corporate Social Responsibility from EcoVadis in 2021. EcoVadis is a provider of business sustainability ratings, intelligence and collaborative performance improvement tools for global supply chains. It places us among the top 1% of our industry peers in the EcoVadis global network of over 65,000 rated companies. The Umicore Group was re-evaluated by EcoVadis and was awarded aPlatinum Medal in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), with a score of 75%, compared to 73% in 2020, demonstrating Umicore’s continued commitment and efforts for an improved performance in all four sustainability themes (environment, labor and Human Rights, ethics and sustainability procurement). Umicore has been assessed by EcoVadis since 2013. To see Umicore's EcoVadis CSR scorecard, see: ECOVADIS SCORECARD.
Revenues from clean mobility & recycling
CLEAN MOBILITY & RECYCLING REVENUES
Umicore’s primary focus in terms of sustainable products and services is to leverage activities that provide solutions for clean mobility and resource scarcity. For many years, Umicore has been emphasizing this focus by disclosing the portion of revenues we gain from clean mobility materials and recycling.
In 2021, 78,8% of Group revenues (excluding metals) were generated from activities that deliver products or services that are directly linked to clean mobility or recycling. We include the production of automotive catalysts, fuel cell catalysts and battery materials for electrified vehicles, which all contribute to cleaner mobility. For recycling, we consider our refining activities, thereby taking into account the portion of secondary materials processed. We are at the same level as in 20201and have increased significantly from 65% in 2016, when we began tracking revenues in this way.
Many of the materials and services making up the remaining 21% of revenues provide answers to specific societal needs such as improved connectivity (materials for high quality glass and displays) or reduced energy consumption (materials for use in energy-efficient lighting such as LEDs).
The European Union created an action plan on the financing of sustainable growth, aimed to redirect capital flows to sustainable economic activities. This is part of the efforts to reach the objectives of the European Green Deal and make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.
In 2021, the European Union introduced the EU Taxonomy, which is a classification system establishing a list of economic activities qualifying as sustainable. Umicore has assessed the compliance of its products and services with Taxonomy Regulation (EU) 2020/852. For 2021, we are reporting on the eligibility of our products and services to two of the six environmental objectives: Climate Change mitigation and Climate Change adaptation. The remaining four environmental objectives are yet to be published by the European Union in 2022 and therefore this year’s reporting reflects only a piece of Umicore’s eligibility.
Based on the defined activities in the Taxonomy Regulation, we reviewed which Umicore products and services contribute to the EU Taxonomy objectives of Climate Change mitigation and Climate Change adaptation. In this review, we took into account our products and services, not our overall industrial activities. Umicore’s two eligible activities “Manufacturing of rechargeable batteries” and “Manufacturing of equipment for the production and use of hydrogen” contribute to the EU Taxonomy objective of Climate Change Mitigation and not Climate Change Adaptation. We have not yet assessed the alignment of our eligible activities, but we will include this in next year’s integrated annual report.
Manufacturing of rechargeable batteries
Umicore has activities that match the EU definition of the activity: 'Manufacturing of rechargeable batteries, battery packs and accumulators for transport, stationary and off-grid energy storage and other industrial applications. This includes the manufacturing of respective components (battery active materials, battery cells, casings and electronic components) and recycling of end-of-life batteries.’
Umicore supplies battery active materials for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles, energy storage systems and portable electronics. This is an enabling activity for battery manufacturing. The manufacturing of battery materials for the portable electronics market has not been considered as an eligible activity, only the cathode materials used for electric vehicles and energy storage systems have been considered in the eligibility assessment.
Umicore also recycles, refines, transforms and sells cobalt and nickel specialty chemicals. This is an activity for a wide range of applications, but only the cobalt and nickel products sales flowing into the battery value chain for electric vehicles have been taken into account in the eligibility assessment. We excluded any internal sales of cobalt and nickel between Umicore business units.
Umicore’s activity contributes to the Climate Change Mitigation objective because batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems are an alternative to technologies emitting greenhouse gases.
Manufacturing of equipment for the production and use of hydrogen
Umicore has activities that are eligible for the EU taxonomy defined activity: ‘Manufacture of equipment for the production and use of hydrogen’.
Umicore produces proton exchange membrane fuel cell catalysts for hydrogen power generation in vehicles. Fuel cell-powered vehicles combine the best of both worlds: long driving ranges and short refueling times combined with zero use-phase emissions. These advantages make the fuel cell-powered automotive particularly attractive in long-distance or energy-intensive haulage applications. Umicore’s activity is an enabling activity for the production and use of hydrogen. For this purpose, we only took the fuel cells business line into account and disaggregated this from the stationary catalysts business line. This activity contributes to Climate Change Mitigation because fuel cell catalysts reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
EU TAXONOMY-ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES
EU Taxonomy "Climate Change Mitigation"-eligible activities total (in thousand EUR)4
EU Taxonomy "Climate Change Mitigation"-eligible economic activities (in %) 4
EU Taxonomy non-eligible activities total (in thousand EUR)4
EU Taxonomy "Climate Change Mitigation" non-eligible economic activities (in %) 4
- 1 Umicore’s turnover includes metal prices which are subject to market fluctuations and thus our reporting on the EU Taxonomy will include those fluctuations
- 2 We used the CAPEX definition as defined by the EU Taxonomy, which is different than Umicore’s definitions of CAPEX. More information on these differences can read in the accounting policy below
- 3 We used the OPEX definition as defined by the EU Taxonomy, which is different than Umicore’s definitions of OPEX. More information on these differences can read in the accounting policy below.
- 4 Umicore’s activities contribute to the EU Taxonomy Climate Change Mitigation objective and not to the EU Taxonomy Climate Change Adaptation objective.
For the assessment of Umicore’s EU Taxonomy compliance, we engaged the external expertise of PwC. They assisted Umicore in the analysis of the EU Taxonomy definitions and criteria. In collaboration with the business units, we identified which Umicore activities are eligible for the EU Taxonomy’s Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation objectives. A key focus of the assessment was to avoid double counting, which we mitigated in two ways. On the one hand, we excluded all intercompany transactions from the exercise and we only took the external figure for a specific business unit or business line into account. On the other hand, some Umicore activities could be eligible for several environmental objectives of the EU Taxonomy. We anticipate that our business activities in Catalysis and Recycling will be most relevant for the four additional environmental objectives to be published by the EU in 2022.
The main purpose of our Catalysis activities is to reduce toxic pollution in the air rather than the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As we assume that the contribution of our Catalysis activities will be most relevant to the EU Taxonomy objective of Prevention of Pollution, we have chosen not to put it forward for the Climate Change Mitigation objective in 2021.
Umicore’s Recycling business supports the transition of the use of primary resources towards recycling, which is less carbon intensive. As we assume that the contribution of our Recycling business will be most relevant to the objective of Transition to a Circular Economy, we have chosen not to put it forward for the Climate Change Mitigation objective in 2021.
The IFRS imposes the reporting of turnover in the segment information (note F7 of the financial statements) [hyperlink]. Turnover can be defined as the sum of all outgoing sales invoices and contains the metal sales. When metal prices rise, turnover increases but this rise is not the result of increased business activity, nor will it automatically lead to improved profitability. The IFRS turnover published by Umicore has been analyzed and the Group concluded that the definition is in line with the Turnover KPI requested for EU taxonomy purpose. To avoid double counting, only external turnover has been considered for the EU Taxonomy exercise.
For the KPI related to capital expenditures (CAPEX), the EU Taxonomy required inclusion of all the additions to tangible and intangible assets during the financial year considered, before depreciation, amortizations or impairments. It also covers the tangible and intangible assets resulting from business combinations and the leases that lead to the recognition of a right-of-use asset as per IFRS 16. The capitalized expenditure definition at Umicore (see Glossary) is more restrictive than the EU Taxonomy definition as it concerns capitalized investments in tangible and intangible assets, excluding capitalized R&D costs. Therefore, capitalized R&D costs, new capitalized leases and the business combinations represent differences between the CAPEX KPI presented in the Umicore financial statements and the CAPEX KPI as defined by the EU Taxonomy. Those additions are however available in the financial statements under notes F8, F14 and F16 . To avoid double counting, only external capital expenditure has been considered for the EU Taxonomy exercise.
Umicore is not yet disclosing for 2021 a capital expenditure investment plan (capex Plan) to obtain alignment of eligible activities, because the screening for alignment has not been finalized. Umicore intends to disclose its investment plan in the annual report for 2022.
For the KPI related to operating expenditures (OPEX), the EU Taxonomy required inclusion of a limited number of items compared with the number of items included in the total operating expenditures disclosed by Umicore in its financial statements (see note F9) of the financial statements. The EU Taxonomy only includes direct non-capitalized costs related to R&D, building renovation measures, short-term leases, maintenance and repair and any other direct expenditures relating to day-to-day servicing of assets of property, plant and equipment by the undertaking or third party to whom activities are outsourced that are necessary to ensure the continued and effective functioning of such assets. To avoid double counting, only the costs initiated in the originating eligible activity have been considered.
The assessment of Umicore’s eligible activities excludes Umicore’s joint ventures and associated companies.
Finally note that the allocation to the numerator for the three required EU taxonomy KPIs was based on Umicore’s internal financial reporting that identifies these KPIs per business line or per specific market. The respective business unit controllers have agreed upon the eligibility of their activities and reported the data centrally.
Umicore supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through innovative products and practices that minimize negative impacts, protect the environment, promote social progress and support economic growth.
Umicore also supports the ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact on Human Rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. We are committed to integrating these principles in the strategy, culture and day-to-day operations of our company - and to engaging in collaborative projects which advance the Sustainable Development Goals.
To support sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG12), we deliver technologies that provide resource efficiency and sustainability throughout industrial supply chains. Our recycling services – processing over 200 types of raw metal-containing materials including industrial residues and “end-of-life" materials – deliver sustainable sourcing solutions to our customers. Our pioneering role in implementing sustainable sourcing practices in the supply chain has raised the bar for the industry and thus reduces waste generation on a large scale. At the same time, we continue to innovate to minimize negative impacts, for example by limiting emissions and reducing waste in our own industrial operations.
Umicore builds resilient infrastructure, promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fosters innovation (SDG9). Our strategic focus tackles society’s resource scarcity and environmental concerns. Our closed-loop business model supports the circular economy and our clean mobility solutions enable our customers to reduce negative impacts on the environment. We are a leading producer of catalysts and catalytic filters used in emission abatement systems for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, on road and off road. Our catalysts and particulate filters convert pollutant emissions into harmless gases and trap the particulate matter, enabling our customers to meet present and future environmental standards. Umicore’s products have prevented hundreds of millions of tonnes of harmful pollutants from being emitted into the air. Our continued investment in R&D advances technological capabilities. Umicore remains committed to open innovation; a dedicated team facilitates collaboration with dozens of research institutes, start-ups and universities worldwide.
Through our electromobility technologies, Umicore is contributing to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG7). We are a leading producer of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries, which are key in determining the power and energy density of rechargeable batteries, in order to maximize driving distance of electrified vehicles. This improves efficiency for downstream customers who manufacture the electrified vehicles as well as for users of cars and heavy-duty vehicles. Our hydrogen cell technologies are used as a new chemical carrier for energy, which could become the major energy carrier in the future and can be used for the decarbonization of industry.
We play an important role in the energy transition with our products and continuously work to improve energy efficiency and increase renewable energy use in our own processes.
As mentioned in our contribution to SDGs 7 and 9, many of our products help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute as such to combat climate change (SDG13). Our electromobility solutions support the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels. The nature of our closed-loop business model avoids greenhouse gas emissions by using materials from non-primary sources. Through its operations, Umicore emits greenhouse gases. To minimize that negative impact, we have integrated the goal of net zero GHG emissions by 2035 in our Let's Go for Zero strategy and are pursuing SBTi validation for these targets. Furthermore, Umicore is also engaging in public-private partnerships to improve education and awareness about climate change mitigation, for example concerning clean energy and mobility.
The Zero harm pillar of our ‘Let’s go for zero’ strategy is a significant challenge for an industrial player, but Umicore is prioritizing the wellbeing and safety of our employees and neighbors and is minimizing the negative impact of its operations. Intensified efforts in favor of occupational health and safety and overall wellbeing of our employees promote well-being and healthy lives (SDG3) as does safeguarding the safety of our products. Our catalysts also contribute to SDG3 by preventing harmful pollution and contributing to cleaner air for people to breathe.
To ensure availability and sustainable management of water (SDG6), we are actively preventing water pollution from our production sites and are continuously reducing our water usage in our operations. Umicore recognizes that our operations can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the communities in which we operate. We work actively and on a daily basis to minimize the negative environmental impact our operations may cause and to maximize job creation with the goal to make communities as inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable as possible (SDG11).
Decent work and economic growth (SDG8) are an important focus for Umicore. Through job creation and thanks to our innovative and resource-efficient business model, Umicore contributes to the global transition. Umicore respects the principle of collective bargaining and is committed to fair wages and equal pay for work of equal value. We ensure a safe and secure working environment within our organization and ensure that Human Rights are respected within our supply chain.
To ensure gender equality (SDG5) and cultivate diversity of thought within the company, Umicore strives to build an inclusive culture and to increase the number of women among our employees and our management. Beyond the borders of our company, we promote anti-discrimination against women and enforce equal opportunities in our supply chain, by asking suppliers to adhere to our Global Sustainable Sourcing Policy.
For more information on how Umicore's impact on the Sustainable Development Goals was evaluated, see the Social Statements
Overview of the impact of Umicore's strategy, objectives, products and services on key SDGs
Zero inequality and wellbeing at work for all
Clean mobility solutions
Zero inequality, zero harm and closed loop business model
Closed loop business model and clean mobility solutions
Closed loop business model and clean mobility solutions
Zero Harm, closed loop business model and clean mobility solutions
Closed loop business model
MAXIMIZING OPERATIONAL IMPACTS
MINIMIZING OPERATIONAL IMPACTS
Minimizing all emissions, 25% diffuse emissions reduction by 2025 and safeguarding employee safety
Minimizing all emissions and defining a water use target
Minimizing all emissions, 25% diffuse emissions reduction by 2025
Net Zero GHG emissions, minimizing all emissions, 25% diffuse emissions reduction by 2025
Net Zero GHG emissions, minimizing all emissions, 25% diffuse emissions reduction by 2025