Embedding and Management of Sustainability Aspects
Company policies and voluntary commitments
Specific requirements regarding important sustainability issues are set forth in our six Corporate Policies. They serve as the basis upon which we realize the sustainability aspects of our strategy.
Covestro aims to develop products and solutions that create value for customers, society and the environment, as well as employees and investors. We accomplish this with products that have superior material properties, environmental compatibility, user friendliness and cost effectiveness. Covestro targets a range of economically important industries. In doing so, it strives for resource efficiency over the whole life cycle, thus maximizing the value created from the resources used.
Our aim is to combine economic success with environmental and social goals. This type of sustainable business activity is in line with our vision of “making the world a brighter place”. Our decisions and our actions therefore take account of all three pillars of sustainability – people, planet and profit – and are based on the principle of avoiding negative impacts in all three of these areas. Our sustainability policy underpins this intention. Specific committees have been appointed at Covestro to define and manage important sustainability issues. These include the development and implementation of targets and action plans.
Covestro regards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as highly relevant: therefore we have integrated them in our corporate strategy. Among other things, we have set out to align our R&D project portfolio even more closely with the UN SDGs.
Innovation is vital if we are to master the global challenges of our changing times and create value in the long term – in accordance with and inspired by the principles of sustainability. Accordingly, we are continuously developing new products, applications and technologies that offer new perspectives. Every single employee is involved with innovation.
Covestro’s success is based on the skills and strong commitment of our employees. We therefore offer an attractive and safe work environment and promote both the professional and personal development of our employees. Curiosity, courage and diversity are the values that shape our corporate culture and enable our workforce to contribute to the success of the company. The core skills and leadership abilities that guide the professional development of our employees are aligned with these values.
HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment and Quality)
Occupational health, safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and quality management are key factors in achieving our goals. We set high standards and always aim for continuous improvement. That is the primary goal of our integrated HSEQ management system, which is used to ensure implementation of our HSEQ Group guidelines in accordance with internationally recognized standards (OHSAS 18001, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 50001).
Covestro’s corporate conduct is characterized by a sense of responsibility as well as ethical principles. Strict compliance with all statutory requirements and voluntary commitments is therefore considered to be of the utmost importance and is anchored in internal regulations that apply to all employees worldwide.
Further codes and voluntary commitments additionally govern the behavior of and interaction between employees and suppliers in specific areas. In its voluntary commitment to responsible lobbying, Covestro has created clear and binding rules for its involvement in the political sphere. In conjunction with the more comprehensive directive, this voluntary commitment applicable across the Group requires transparency and openness when working with representatives of political institutions. It stipulates that Covestro shall make no direct donations to political parties, politicians, or candidates for political office. In accordance with local law, a political action committee (PAC) was set up in the United States which is only open to Covestro employees, but remains completely independent of the Group. The PAC manages individual voluntary donations by employees to support political candidates, ballot initiatives or legislative decisions in the United States. In addition to its externally published voluntary commitment, Covestro has signed up on a voluntary basis to the European Transparency Register. The purpose of this register is to record and monitor lobbying activities at the EU level, requiring companies to disclose certain information such as their activities in various areas of interest or the number of staff involved in lobbying, for example. Detailed regulations also apply to lobbying activities in the United States, including a duty to report all political interactions on a quarterly basis, which Covestro meets in full.
Covestro and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
In their entirety, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are crucial for the development and improvement of living conditions throughout the world. We therefore place importance on not losing sight of these overarching UN Sustainable Development Goals. In our opinion, the UN SDGs are all equally important and are closely interconnected. We seek to contribute to and maximize our influence on reaching these goals. Above all, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a source of inspiration for innovations and indicators for the future direction of the company.
We are aware that as part of the chemical industry, Covestro bears a special responsibility. We therefore seek to make positive contributions, also in particularly challenging areas or at least ensure our activities do not have a negative impact. It is with this in mind that we published our voluntary “Corporate Commitment on our Contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” on our website in 2018.
Our focus in 2018 was on raising the overall awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the Covestro organization. To this end, our study about Covestro’s contribution to achieving the UN SDGs from the previous year was summarized and presented to our employees.
In this 2017 internal study on our contribution to the UN Sustainability Goals we considered the 17 main UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as their respective sub-goals and covered five categories (see figure on the following page):
- Products of our core business
- Own operations and business ethics
- R&D projects
- Inclusive business (using innovative solutions to improve the living standards of low-income communities)
- Social engagement (mostly through donations undertaken together with partners, educational activities and employee volunteering).
The study found that Covestro is making positive contributions to all 17 UN sustainability goals, with different contribution levels.
Most of these contributions relate to our core products, whose use helps to save large amounts of energy, and to our own workflows and business practices.
In addition to evaluating the positive contributions to UN Sustainable Development Goals already being made by Covestro, we believe that such an analysis must also aim to identify any additional challenges Covestro may face. We define these as issues that, if ignored or not addressed, could potentially be seen by our stakeholders as having a negative impact on individual UN Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, we are aware that our production processes require considerable amounts of energy. This is why Covestro has set itself the goal of reducing the specific greenhouse gas emissions arising from our production activities by 50% by the year 2025 compared with the base year 2005. To this end, we have taken many initiatives to cut energy consumption in production and lower our greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, some of our products help conserve energy during their use phase. Many of these products save more energy in use than was consumed during their production; a good example is building insulation.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals were once again included in the interviews and discussions conducted with stakeholders during the reporting period. The majority of our stakeholders found that Covestro’s approach was a good starting point for addressing this thematic area.
Since 2016, Covestro has been following a specific Group-wide sustainability program which sets forth ambitious goals through 2025. The individual goals address key aspects of individual areas from innovation and procurement through to production and marketing. Our five nonfinancial goals are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and contribute positively in various ways to the implementation of all 17 SDGs.
In addition, occupational health and safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and quality management goals have been defined as part of our integrated HSEQ management system.