Environmental Statements

CO2e emissions (scope1)tonneE7417,140389,101330,451372,699346,439
CO2e emissions (scope2) - Market basedtonneE7350,562402,714402,094473,738338,554
CO2e emissions (scope2) - Location based (1)tonneE7368,649426,074421,089421,990361,251
Energy consumptionterajoulesE67,4587,4767,5918,3087,300
Renewable electricity%E6-14151735
Metal emissions to water (load) (3)kgE51,8612,052696,523908,186774,306
Metal emissions to water (2) (3)impact unitsE5111,927129,5873,686,0164,714,3024,012,119
Metal emissions to air (load)kgE51,5648649849941214
Metal emissions to air (2)impact unitsE5128,24765,18969,37170,08483,111
Diffuse metal emissions%E5 114.2100.064.854.6
SOx emissionstonneE5657531389372378
NOx emissionstonneE5304280239240247
Water withdrawalthousand m3E45,8856,2087,81310,1039,616
Fresh water withdrawalthousand m3E4 9,7649,405
Total waste produced (1)tonneE378,77868,31799,43494,619104,337
Hazardous waste (1)tonneE358,75947,58978,05573,55185,974
of which recycled (1)%E35.
Non hazardous waste (1)tonneE320,01820,72821,37921,06518,363
of which recycled (1)%E362.259.464.771.469.5
Compliance excess rate%E80.
Environmental complaintsE829338010466
Sites ISO 14001 certified%E89195969496

(1) Definitions of KPIs have changed over time. A direct comparison of numbers before 2021 is therefore not fully applicable.

(2) Impact factors have been updated for all years compared with previous years. See more information in Environmental Statements section E5 and Performance section Emissions.

(3) Metal emissions to water data has been restated for 2020 and 2021. See more information in Environmental Statements section E5 and Performance section Emissions.

Notes to the environmental figures

Environmental key figures include data from consolidated industrial sites where Umicore has operational control. The following sites are no longer reported compared with 2021: Arab (United States; Cobalt & Specialty Materials) and Frederikssund (Denmark; Automotive Catalysts). This brings the total number of consolidated industrial sites that report environmental data in 2022 to 52, down from 54 in 2021. Only sites running from the January 1st are included.

Within the scope of Umicore’s reporting framework, most of the sites report their environmental data at the end of the third quarter together with a forecast for the fourth quarter. In January, the forecasted values are checked by the sites for significant deviations and, if needed, corrected. The eight sites with the largest environmental impact for 2022 are: Hanau (Germany; Catalysis, Recycling), Olen (Belgium; Energy & Surface Technologies, Corporate R&D), Hoboken (Belgium; Recycling), Jiangmen Site 1, Jiangmen Site 2 ( both China; Energy & Surface Technologies), Cheonan Site 1, Cheonan Site 2/3 (both Korea; Energy & Surface Technologies), and Kokkola (Finland; Energy & Surface Technologies). These sites reported their full year figures in 2022. A sensitivity analysis, undertaken for the 2021 data on energy consumption data, indicates that the potential deviation of the Group environmental performance would be 1% in case of a 20% error in the forecasted data.

Please note that due to improved analytical and reporting methods, some of the data published in the 2021 annual report have been restated in the 2022 report.

The raw materials in scope for this indicator are the metals purchased to develop metal-based applications. The percentage is expressed in total raw materials weight.

The resource efficiency indicator provides information on the nature - primary or secondary - of the raw materials processed at the operational sites into a final (Umicore) product.

The following definitions apply for primary and secondary raw materials1:

Primary raw material: Material which has never before been subjected to use or processed into any form of end‑use product (or part thereof) other than that required for its manufacture. In the absence of information from the supplier on the nature of the raw materials supplied, these raw materials are considered as primary. The collected data are expressed in terms of total tonnage of incoming material.

Secondary raw material: Material that has been used and/or processed before and can be reused or processed again into any form of end‑use product (or part thereof).

Secondary raw materials consist of two sub-groups2:

Secondary pre-consumer raw material: Material resulting from the industrial processes in the value chain before that material has been processed into a product. Please note that this includes waste materials originating from intermediate manufacturing steps in the value chain using primary raw materials as input. In all cases the material should not be suitable for consumption in the intermediate manufacturing steps from which it originates.

Secondary post-consumer raw material: Material resulting from products ending in at least one lifetime. Please note that this includes waste materials originating from intermediate manufacturing steps in the value chain using secondary raw materials (pre- and or post- consumer raw materials) as input. This also includes material recovered from waste generated by industrial facilities in their role as end-users of a finished product. In all cases the material should not be suitable for consumption in the intermediate manufacturing steps from which it originates.

Waste is defined as the total volume of generated waste expressed in tons/year. The distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous waste is made based on the local regulation for the region where the reporting entitiy is located.

The waste recycling rate is the ratio of the waste recovered by third parties (including waste recovered as energy through incineration) to the total waste.

Water withdrawal figures as of 2021 include withdrawn produced water (mainly, this is the water/moisture content of incoming raw materials and liquid solutions), and rainwater while the "water use" figures from 2018-20 do not include these amounts.

With respect to water withdrawn from water stressed areas the WRI Aqueduct tool has been used to determine the sites located in an area in water stress. For the sites material to the group’s water withdrawal these locations are limited to the Bangkok, Hoboken, Olen and Shirwal sites, based on an assessment in 2020.

4.1 Water, by business group
unitCatalysisEnergy & Surface TechnologiesRecyclingUmicore Group
Water withdrawalthousand m35606,1732,8839,616
Fresh water withdrawalthousand m45136,0132,8789,405
Water dischargethousand m53375,6182,1408,095
Fresh water dischargethousand m62822231,4001,906
Water consumptionthousand m72235557431,521
Fresh water consumptionthousand m82315,7901,4787,499

We focus on the metals that are present in Umicore’s material flow and that are relevant to the environment in terms of impact. A detailed assessment to evaluate and define the relevant metals was carried out in 2010 and implemented in 2011. A procedure is in place to evaluate the effect of changes to Umicore’s material flow at existing sites as well as at plants that are newly established or joining the company, to ensure that the list of metals is up to date and relevant. Since 2011, no changes to the list were needed.

The metals taken into consideration for the impact determination for water are the following: Antimony (Sb), Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Cerium (Ce), Chromium (Cr) III and VI, Cobalt (Co), Copper (Cu), Gold (Au), Indium (In), Lead (Pb), Manganese (Mn), Mercury (Hg), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni), Palladium (Pa), Platinum (Pt), Rhodium (Rh), Selenium (Se), Silver (Ag), Strontium (Sr), Tellerium (Te), Thallium (Tl), Titanium (Ti), Zinc (Zn) and Zircronium (Zr).

The metals taken into consideration for the impact determination for air are the following: Aluminium (Al), Antimony (Sb), Arsenic (As), Barium (Ba), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), Cobalt (Co), Copper (Cu), Indium (In), Iron (Fe), Lead (Pb), Lithium (Li), Manganese (Mn), Mercury (Hg), Nickel (Ni), Palladium (Pa), Platinum (Pt), Rhodium (Rh), Selenium (Se), Silicon (Si), Silver (Ag), Tellerium (Te), Thallium (Tl), Tin (Sn), Tungsten (W), Vanadium (V), Zinc (Zn) and Zircronium (Zr).

Metal emissions to water (load) are defined as the total amount of metals emitted after treatment to surface water from effluent(s) expressed in kg/year. If sites make use of an external wastewater treatment plant, the efficiency of that treatment is considered if known to the site.

Metal emissions to air (load) are defined as the total amount of metals emitted to air, after emissions abatement where applicable, in solid fraction by all point sources expressed in kg/year. For mercury and arsenic, vapor/fume fractions are counted as well.

For each of the metals emitted to water and air, an impact factor is applied to account for the different toxicity and ecotoxicity levels of the various metals when they are emitted to the environment. The higher the impact factor, the higher the toxicity is to the receiving water body (for water emissions) or to human health (for air emissions).

The impact factors for water emissions are based on scientific data generated (“predicted no effect concentrations” or PNECs) for the REACH regulation for most metals and on Tatsi et.al (2015) for thallium1. An impact factor of 1 was attributed to the antimony PNEC of 113 μg/l. All impact factors used relate to freshwater data. The impact factors for emissions to air are based on the occupational exposure limits (OELs) (reference: American Conference of Industrial and Governmental Hygienists, 2021) and the binding EU OELs. An impact factor of 1 was attributed to the zinc (oxide) OEL of 2 mg/m³. Subsequently, an impact factor for all relevant metals was calculated based on these references. The metal impact to air and to water is expressed as “impact units/year”.

In 2021, a review of the PNECs and OELs for each metal of concern was carried out to update the scientific basis for the impact factors. This led to a revision of impact factors for several metals. The revised set of impact factors for metals to air and water is applied consistently to all data 2018-22 presented in this report.

Other emissions tracked by Umicore are SOx and NOx emissions, which are reported in tons/year. The majority of the data for SOx and NOx are obtained from direct measurements (online analyzers), complemented to a lesser extent by data based on calculations based on site-specific data. Our sites emit further compounds to a certain extent, but these are not considered material, based on a thorough review of trends in the years 2011-15, when data on VOCs, COD, etc. were also collected. All sites that have joined Umicore since 2015 have been reviewed for potential additional material compounds, and no such addition was deemed required.

At all relevant locations with environmental emissions, Umicore is compliant with the applicable laws and legislation that regulate and control emissions to the environment. Legal obligations drive most of our data collection related to emissions; however, additional compounds may be analyzed at higher frequencies in excess of the strictly legal requirements to improve data reliability, where this is meaningful. Emission of compounds that are not legally required to be monitored and that we have not voluntarily added to our analysis campaigns may occur, but the impact of such untracked emissions is considered negligible.

Umicore has applied the materiality principle to emissions since 2016, meaning that only the sites with a material impact in comparison to the Group total are required to report. An assessment of the emissions of 2015, the last year when all industrial sites were required to report emissions, identified 10 or fewer sites that made up 95% or more of the Group total for each (set of) parameter(s) (assessed in terms of load for SOx and NOx and in terms of impact for metals emissions to water and air). Sites that have joined Umicore since 2015 have been reviewed for their materiality impact and were grouped for each (set of) parameter(s) as material or not, based on a comparison with the sites in these two categories of the 2015 assessment. This renders the previously used "95% or more" assessment rule somewhat less accurate, but it is clear that we are still very close to above 95% of the Group total emissions for any material compound. All non-material sites are requested to assess if there were any significant upward deviations from their 2015/recent emissions baseline, triggering a discussion of whether or not they are to be considered material in the reporting year; this was not applicable in 2022.

During the reporting year 2022 it was discovered in the Group audit program that a material load of emissions to water was omitted from the reporting for the 2020-21 period at one site. The loads and metal impact to water have been recalculated accordingly. The reported load of emissions is an overestimation, as at that site some of the reported metal load relies on data before the last wastewater treatment step. The most reliable data was used. The treatment efficiency for this last step will be investigated.

Diffuse metal emissions

The concentration of suspended particulate matter (PM10) in air of relevant metals (lead, arsenic and cadmium) is measured in µg/Nm³ daily at three measurement stations related to our production site in Hoboken. The monthly averages result in an annual moving average concentration, which is then multiplied by the impact factors to air for the respective metals. The data were normalized at the end of 2020, giving the baseline for this Let’s Go for Zero target.

In 2021 and 2022 a screening was conducted across the Group to identify which other sites may be material in contribution to this target. We expect to include the performance of other identified sites in future reporting. Their impact will be added to the baseline by projecting their impact backward to end of 2020 and the baseline will be adapted when new sites are acquired.

6.1 Energy, by business group
unitCatalysisEnergy & Surface TechnologiesRecyclingUmicore Group
Energy consumptionterajoules1,2903,5012,5007,300

Indirect energy consumption: energy from purchased electricity, steam, compressed air and heat.

Direct energy consumption: energy from fuel, gas oil, natural gas, LPG, coal, cokes, pet cokes etc.

The definition of renewable energy as given in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 Guidance (2015 amendment) has guided us in defining the scope of this indicator. Only the following energy sources are considered in scope for this KPI: wind energy; solar energy; energy from biomass (including bio- and other naturally produced gas); hydropower (including marine hydro); and geothermal energy.

Energy intensity is calculated as the total absolute energy consumption (in terajoules) over revenues excluding metals (in millions of Euros).

7.1 scope 1 & scope 2 emissions, group data
7.2 scope 1 + 2 emissions, by business group
unitCatalysisEnergy & Surface TechnologiesRecyclingUmicore Group
CO2e emissions (scope1+2) - Market basedtonne116,386313,374254,815684,993
CO2e emissions (scope1+2) - Location basedtonne131,653304,622270,930707,690

Umicore reports its absolute CO2e emissions as per the scope of sites outlined in E1. The absolute CO2e emission volumes are calculated using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol definition and reporting methodology for Scopes 1 and 2 (WBCSD and WRI 2004 and amendment for Scope 2 of 2015). Scope 2 for Umicore includes not only purchased electricity but also steam, compressed air and heat purchased from third parties (from industrial parks or utility companies). CO2e includes the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 and N2O for Scope 1 and major process emissions. Other greenhouse gases are not relevant in Umicore’s operations. With the exception of electricity, the Scope 2 emissions take into account only CO2.

The calculation of Scope 2 emissions for each site is done in two ways: once using market-based CO2 emission factors and once using location-based CO2 emission factors. The market-based emission factors allow for the calculation ofthe CO2 emissions based on the specific contracts that sites have in place with their energy suppliers, considering the relevant energy mix for these contracts (including green energy attributes, where applicable). The location-based CO2 emission factors facilitate calculating the CO2 emissions based on grid average emission factors in a country/region where these data are available. The total CO2 emissions for the Group are then presented as two separate values based on this differentiation, and the metrics are abbreviated as: CO2e market-based and CO2e location-based.

The WBCSD Chemical Sector Working Group on GHG Measurement and Reporting established additional guidance to cope with observed anomalies in GHG reporting. Umicore has implemented these guidelines since the 2012 reporting. The sector guidelines are published on the WBCSD website.

GHG emissions intensity is calculated using the total CO2e market-based emissions (in tons) over total revenues excluding metals (in millions of Euros).

7.3 scope 3 emissions - 2019 baseline
Categorytonnes CO2e emissions
Purchased Goods and Services6,816,941
Capital Goods137,760
Fuel & Energy related activities119,080
Upstream distribution178,180
Waste generated22,140
Business travel10,159
Employee commuting14,828
Upstream leased assets12,269
Downstream distribution40,157
Processing of sold products321,974
End-of-life treatment of sold products536,953

The estimation of the Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions covers all upstream and downstream Scope 3 categories for the reference year 2019.

By default, the applied emission factors come from databases (EcoInvent, ADEME, DEFRA, EEIOA, etc.). When available, we relied on emission factors coming from average industry association data (by means of life cycle assessment exercises). Umicore aims to continuously improve the emission factors and plans to work closely with suppliers to incorporate supplier-specific product emission factors in Umicore’s category 3.1 calculations.

Calculations for all categories follow the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard. Below, we provide additional details per category, as well as the main encountered limitations and their related assumptions:

-              For purchased goods and services (Category 3.1): The applied emission factors come from EcoInvent (3.4 for most materials and 3.8 for newly added materials compared with the 2018 inventory), life cycle assessment from metal associations or other literature sources. Proxies have been selected whenever the emission factors of the related products were not available. The emissions factor for recycled materials is assumed to be equal to 0. No supplier-specific data has been used.

-              For capital goods (Category 3.2), the most conservative emission factors (EFs) have been selected from the types of investment available in the 2020 USEEIO Supply Chain Factors Dataset version 1.0 and the Supply Chain Greenhouse Gas Emission Factors for US Industries and Commodities. The EF selected represents the amount of GHGs emitted for € 1 spent in non-residential structures.

-              To calculate the Scope 3 emissions for Fuel- & Energy-related activities (Category 3.3), we used the 2019 conversion factors for the Well-To-Tank data for the production and distribution of fuels/energy consumed in Scopes 1 and 2 from the DEFRA database.

-              Upstream transportation and distribution (Category 3.4): as a conservative approach, in the absence of specific data on destination or starting point in the same country, the distance travelled by the goods was estimated to be equivalent to a large distance between two cities in different parts of the country (e.g., Bruges-Arlon for Belgium). When the transportation mode was not provided, it was assumed to be by sea whenever the trip was intercontinental or shorter by sea, and otherwise by road (truck) if on the same continent and shorter by road. When transportation was multimodal, only the longest part of the journey was taken into account (e.g., for goods shipped from Japan to Germany, only the journey by sea was considered and not the port-to-facilities journey by truck ).

This bird’s eye view has been taken as default.

Umicore pays for most transport, which explains the large impact on emissions in category 3.4 (upstream transportation and distribution) and the small impact in category 3.9 (downstream transportation and distribution) (Table 5.7, p.45, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard).

-              For waste treatment (Category 3.5), emission factors from the French carbon database were used for all countries, as no other appropriate EFs that take into account waste collection were encountered in available databases. The emissions for waste sent to recycling or recovery were considered in this category. Given that no EF was available to represent the recycling treatment process without taking into account the avoided emissions linked to remanufacturing new products, the EF for treating hazardous waste was used for calculating the emissions linked to recycling treatment. Due to the lack of detailed data today a conservative approach is used, as “hazardous waste treatment” is the highest EF used in this assessment to estimate waste treatment emissions. When appropriate EF data is available, the calculation can be refined.

-              For business travel (Category 3.6), a distinction was made for sites within and outside of Europe. For business travel within Europe for the reference year 2019, Umicore received GHG emissions data from its travel operator directly, using ADEME and DEFRA data. For the sites outside of Europe, a spend-based estimation was made using a default conversion factor (i.e., to convert spend into kilometers (kms)) and a default EF from EcoInvent 3.8 (i.e., to convert kms into CO2e).

-              For employee commuting (Category 3.7), per country per site the modal split (percentage of employees using a particular commuting mode) is multiplied with the average trip length and the emission factor per commute mode, based on Environmental Protection Agency 2021 data for employee commuting, for Belgium sites it’s based on Brussels intercommunal transport company STIB-MIVB data.

-              Upstream leased assets (Category 3.8), covers the emissions from operation of assets leased by Umicore (not taking place on Umicore premises and hence not part of our Scopes 1+2), such as pre-treatment of raw material (e.g. drying) for RBM, corporate & PMR. This category also includes the emissions of leased company cars (based on fuel consumption).

-              Downstream transportation and distribution (Category 3.9): the same assumptions hold as described for category 3.4 – see above.

-              Downstream processing of sold products (Category 3.10): Processing emissions have been considered for products for which the processing is relevant and known. Processing of sold products has been considered and includes processing of: cathode powders into batteries; copper into copper tubes and pipes; and lead into lead acid batteries. Emissions have been allocated to Umicore based on the mass ratio of the Umicore product within the final product. These products represent two of the three main activities of Umicore and cover two of the three business groups.

-              For the Use phase of sold products (Category 3.11), we have not considered any emissions as none of our products are fuels or feedstocks, nor do they directly consume energy in the use phase, contain or form GHGs that are emitted during this phase (Table 5.11, p.56, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard).

-              Downstream end-of-life treatment of sold products (Category 3.12), has been considered for: cathode materials in batteries; lead in acid batteries; copper pipes and tubes; and automotive catalysts (for the volumes not recycled directly by Umicore). These activities represent the largest activities of Umicore, covering the three business groups Recycling, Energy and Surface Technologies and Catalysis.

-              Downstream leased assets (Category 3.13): not applicable since Umicore’s operational assets leased to other entities have been reported under Scopes 1 and 2 following the operational control consolidation approach.

-              Franchises (Category 3.14): not applicable since Umicore does not have any franchises.

-              Investments (Category 3.15): Joint ventures have historically not gathered information on their Scopes 1 and 2 emissions. Concrete steps have, however, been put in place to assure that these JVs are also incorporating carbon in their future decision-making process, requiring a detailed assessment of emissions. Given limited data availability, we have derived emission information based on the capacity available for the two biggest joint ventures. This assessment shows that the inclusion of these emissions will, in the future, have limited impact on the baseline (~1%). During the SBTi validation, Umicore accepted a nominal 1% added to Scope 3 (category 15) to represent the to-be-finalized category 15 calculations.

2022 update of the Scope 3

The 2022 update focusses on the category 3.1: “Purchased goods and services” as this is the category in scope of the SBTi target. The same methodology as described above for 2019 has been followed in 2022. As part of the implementation of the scope 3 objective the goal is to gradually replace emissions factor from literature and databases by supplier-specific product emission factors. As this action was recently launched, the supplier specific emission factor data is still very limited for 2022. Update compared with the 2019 inventory include switching from EcoInvent database 3.8 to 3.9.1 and aligning with recent average industry data from metal association life cycle assessment exercises. Proxies have been selected whenever the emission factors of the related products were not available. The emission factor for recycled materials is assumed to be equal to 0.

Scope 4, avoided emissions

Estimating avoided emissions requires taking assumptions that have an influence on the results. The main assumptions taken in this case are the following:

Cathode materials for electric mobility
  • The solution to compare: we compared the emissions of a medium passenger car with a rechargeable battery containing our cathode materials, with the emissions of a medium passenger car containing an internal combustion engine running on diesel or gasoline, considering the European split between diesel and gasoline in 2021 (no data available yet for 2022). 
  • We considered the NMC (nickel manganese cathode) materials produced in 2022 for electric mobility applications, assuming that the entire volume is used for full electric vehicles. We made our calculations under the assumption that the vehicles are charged using European average grid mix. 
  • The comparison covers the following steps: mining, production of the cathode materials by Umicore, processing into batteries, use of the batteries in full electric vehicles and recycling of the batteries at end of life. Literature or LCA data from commercial databases have been used for all processes not carried out by Umicore. 
  • The production of the car and its recycling have not been considered as it has been assumed that it was the same for both the Umicore technology and the solution to compare.
  • We compared Umicore’s secondary production with the primary production of an equivalent tonnage of each metal considered.
  • As much as possible, we applied the industry average climate change impact provided by the metal associations for primary production. Data from commercial LCA databases had to be used for some metals in the absence of such industry average.
  • We have considered the recovery of a select number of metals by Umicore in 2022. For these metals, the climate change impact for Scopes 1, 2 and 3 upstream has been considered.
Fuel cells
  • The solution to compare: we compared the emissions of a fuel cell medium passenger car containing our catalyst material, with the emissions of a medium passenger car containing an internal combustion engine running on diesel or gasoline, considering the European split between diesel and gasoline in 2021 (no data available yet for 2022). 
  • We considered the fuel cells materials produced by Umicore in 2022.
  • The comparison relies on publicly available data for the vehicle production, use phase and end-of-life phase. For the fuel cell vehicle, it includes the production of the catalyst materials, manufacturing of the fuel cell and the battery, manufacture of the H2 tank.
Automotive catalysts
  • The solution to compare: we compared the emissions of gasoline and diesel passenger car as well as heavy-duty diesel vehicles equipped with a Umicore euro 6d automotive catalyst in 2022 with the same vehicles equipped with a euro 5 catalyst. The comparison focused on NOx emissions.
  • The comparison covers the following steps: mining, production of the automotive catalyst, use phase of the vehicle and recycling of the catalyst at end of life. Publicly available LCA data have been used for all processes not carried out by Umicore.
  • The production of the car and its recycling have not been considered as it has been assumed that it was the same for both the Umicore technology and the solution to compare.

The compliance excess rate is the ratio between the total number of excess results and the total number of compliance measurements. An excess result is a monitoring result that violates a limit value defined in a permit, regulation or other relevant regulatory standard. 

The total number of measurements is the total number of environmental impact measurements as required by the operational permit, environmental permit, or comparable standard in the region where the reporting entity is operating (this may include higher frequency measurements of permit-related parameters where deemed useful for internal quality reasons). The total number of measurements means the number of measurement events multiplied by the number of parameters per measurement event. 

A complaint is a formally registered notification made by an external claimant, authorities excluded, to the entity / site, concerning an EHS-related issue with a perceived negative impact. 

Group data
Compliance excess rate0.

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