Annual Report 2023

Product Stewardship

To Covestro, product stewardship means comprehensively evaluating health, safety, and environmental risks in connection with the handling and use of our products. We want our products to be safe throughout their entire life cycle – from research to production and marketing to their intended use by customers and all the way to disposal. For this purpose, we provide our customers with all information needed to communicate along the value chain, right up to the end user. Product stewardship is also a focus of our human rights due diligence activities.

Monitoring the quality of our products and their suitability for particular uses is anchored in our corporate functions and segments. Safe transportation, qualification for specifically regulated applications, and marketability are centrally managed at Covestro, as is the obligation to report to the Board of Management on these matters.

The safe handling and use of our products have high priority. It is very important to us to communicate product safety information transparently and comprehensively. In addition to the legally required documentation, we also provide further information and offer training in line with the Global Product Strategy of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). Furthermore, specially trained employees throughout the company work closely with suppliers, customers, industry associations, and the public. Covestro thus aims to ensure the effective communication and observance of health, safety, and environmental information along the entire supply chain.

Management of Product Stewardship

Product stewardship involves both compliance with statutory requirements and voluntary commitments. Here we also take into account the so-called precautionary principle as explained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration of the United Nations and communication COM(2000) 1 of the European Commission. This important means of protecting consumers and the environment may be used in special situations in which, according to an objective and comprehensive scientific evaluation, material or irreversible harm to people and the environment may occur, but the risk of this cannot be determined with sufficient certainty. In this regard, we follow the corresponding principles of the European Commission when applying the precautionary principle. These include especially the proportionality of the protective measures taken, an examination of the benefits and the disadvantages of all relevant options, as well as the review of the measures taken in light of new scientific developments. Arbitrary decisions cannot be justified by invoking the precautionary principle.

As a contribution to the safe handling and use of chemicals, risk assessments are carried out applying recognized scientific principles such as those described by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in its Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment. A determination is made based on a hazard assessment and exposure estimation as to which additional information is required for the risk characterization of a product.

All product groups at Covestro undergo a multiple-step product evaluation process. At first, we identify chemicals that are subject to statutory regulations. The chemicals identified in this way include relevant hazardous substances that are legally classified in the EU by the European Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP). Examples of these include substances of very high concern (SVHCs) as classified in accordance with the European Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). We then examine the risk potential of our products. During this process, we also identify substances for which only limited use or marketing is permitted based on the applicable laws and regulations, and provide this information to our customers. Examples of these include the substances mentioned above that are legally classified by CLP or are classified by REACH as SVHCs. Substance compositions in all regions are checked with the help of IT systems against lists of regulated substances, including relevant hazardous substances and SVHCs, so regulatory requirements can be reliably complied with. In addition, we ensure compliance with the regulatory obligations to communicate with our customers for jurisdictions where we market our products. Should the assessment or new findings reveal that it is not safe to use a certain product, we take the necessary risk mitigation measures. Those can range from technical measures such as protective equipment and revised application recommendations to the withdrawal of support for a certain application or the substitution of a substance. In this case, an adequate replacement must be sought which can be produced in an economical and technically feasible way. Finally, we produce safety data sheets and labeling for all products in up to 40 different languages, including chemicals that are not subject to any legal obligation. In this respect, Covestro also exceeds the statutory requirements by making these safety data sheets publicly available.

We collect, document, and analyze all information about the safe and compliant use of our products in a global information system, which provides the basis for further improvements. This includes product surveillance and reporting on product-related and compliance incidents. Our global regulations for the Group contain rules and guidance on when and how this information is to be used. For example, this helps us improve the information on the safe handling of our products and provide customers with specific training. Furthermore, workshops, and online training sessions for our employees contribute to solidifying the understanding and importance of product stewardship in the company.

For fiscal 2023, we know of no material incidents of noncompliance with regulations or voluntary codes – either concerning the health and safety impacts of products and services, or relating to product information and labeling.

The optimization of products and processes is a continuous task of the chemical industry and is integral to our commitments as part of the Responsible Care™ initiative. This is an initiative by the chemical industry that aims for continual improvement by companies in the areas of environment, safety, and health, regardless of the legal requirements. We also participate in the further development of scientific risk assessments through our involvement in industry associations and initiatives. International associations such as the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) are working to improve the scientific assessment of chemicals and research new testing methods. Moreover, they monitor implementation of legal regulations. Covestro is actively involved in association activities. Furthermore, we endorse the initiatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU) to improve health and the environment, for example with the further development of human biomonitoring through an alliance with the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and the German Federal Ministry of the Environment.

Implementation of Regulations and Voluntary Programs Pertaining to Chemicals

Covestro adheres to the applicable regulations pertaining to chemicals, such as REACH in Europe and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the United States. These regulations are aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the risks posed by chemicals, and thus shape our activities as a manufacturer, importer, and user of chemicals. We have established internal regulations to adequately address the multitude and complexity of the relevant requirements. They guide our employees in how to fulfill regulatory requirements.

Substances registered according to REACH are assessed by regulators. This can result, for example, in additional testing requirements, new risk management measures, or inclusion in the REACH authorization or restriction procedure. A number of Covestro substances are affected by this procedure, which restricts the use of those substances or can lead to their substitution or prohibition. The restriction on diisocyanates published in the Official Journal of the EU in August 2020 is one example of a restriction. In this case, labeling of diisocyanates had to be modified by February 2022, but this will not affect their availability. However, all users of products containing diisocyanates at a concentration of more than 0.1% of the residual monomer had to be trained in their use by August 2023. Covestro supported this process and advocated for the practical and effective implementation of this requirement, for instance in the preparation of training materials. As part of the European chemical industry, we furthermore made a voluntary commitment to review and improve the REACH registration dossiers by the year 2026.

We ensure that substance assessments comparable to those meeting the high standards of REACH or the TSCA will also be applied at Covestro sites that are not subject to these regulations. The relevant procedure is established in the directive on “Product Stewardship” in the attachment entitled “Substance Information and its Availability.” When it comes to purchased substances, we are dependent on information provided by our suppliers.

Another example of our commitment to Responsible Care™ is the support we provide for customers for safely handling large quantities of reactive products through tank-farm safety assessments.

Covestro has also committed to compliance with animal welfare policies during toxicological and ecotoxicological testing.

We support the Global Product Strategy (GPS), a voluntary commitment by the chemical industry initiated by the ICCA. Its objective is to improve knowledge about chemical products, especially in emerging countries and countries of the Global South, and thus increase safety in the handling of these products. GPS is accessible at Covestro through the Product Safety First internet portal and is available worldwide. On this website, we inform our customers and other interest groups about safety-relevant properties and the safe handling of our products.

Substances That Are the Subject of Public Debate

Covestro is following the scientific discussion about the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), an important raw material for various plastics, e.g., polycarbonate. Critics, but also some authorities, are concerned that risks could result for people and the environment if traces of BPA are released from products.

Based on numerous scientifically valid and high-quality studies, Covestro is confident that BPA can be safely used in all areas of application supported to date. By participating in regulatory processes, Covestro works actively to dispel uncertainties and answer open questions. In addition, we continue to advocate for more objective discussions based on all of the scientific data in cooperation with the Plastics Europe association, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), and the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF). Covestro is involved in the discussions and provides information to customers and the public on this issue through associations, on the Covestro website, and through direct contacts.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a subject of public discussion due to possible undesirable effects on people and the environment. PFAS are essential chemicals in a number of mainly industrial products, including many high-tech applications, often on account of their ability to resist heat and chemicals. PFAS are a challenge for all segments of industry, including chemicals, because various regulatory initiatives intend to limit the use of PFAS.

We monitor the regulatory debate and support proportionate, implementable, and enforceable regulations based on robust scientific results and a reliable risk assessment. We already include in our safety data sheets in the EU any PFAS that are classified as SVHC by REACH and are contained in our products at a concentration of more than 0.1% by weight.

Due Diligence
Information on the processes for identifying, preventing, and mitigating the actual or possible negative impact on nonfinancial factors.
GPS/Global Product Strategy
Initiative of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) with the aim of enshrining uniform global standards for product safety in the chemical industry.
REACH Regulation
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals. Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006, which entered into force in 2007, standardizes EU chemicals law.
Responsible Care™ Initiative
Initiative by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) aimed at continuously improving health, environmental protection, and safety at its member companies.
VCI/Verband der Chemischen Industrie
German chemical industry association.

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