Performance is measured and assessed regularly, and the extent of progress affects Short Term Incentive Plans for both leaders and employees.

Solvay One Planet extra financial results

Solvay increased and broadened its ESG commitments in 2020.  This is an integral element of the G.R.O.W. strategy and is directly aligned with its Purpose of bonding people, ideas, and elements to reinvent progress.

Solvay’s ambitions center around three main pillars, including climate change, resource scarcity and promoting a better life. These are fully embedded into Solvay’s key decisions.

Solvay made good progress on many of these initiatives during 2020, though results reflect the combination of structural improvements and the temporary decline in economic activity levels.

2021 progress update

Overall progress on extra financial targets

Target

2021

Comment

Progress 
versus 2018

2030
targets

Align GHG emissions with Paris Agreement and SBTi (a)

11Mt

Achieved 11% in aggregate versus 6.6% Paris Agreement

-14%
-11% structural

Reduce by 30% (-2.5%/yr)

Phase out coal wherever renewable alternatives exist

27

(1 plant 

exiting coal)

Exit announced at Rheinberg in 2020, at Dombasle in 2021, first step at Devnya in 2022

-18%
(petajoule)

Achieve 100%

Reduce negative pressure on Biodiversity

-13%

Volume growth more than offset by improved eco-profile accuracy

-24%

Reduce by 30% 

Increase sustainable solutions, % of Group sales 

53% (b)

Improved eco-profile and increased number of sustainable solutions

+3pp

Achieve 65%

Increase circular economy, % of Group sales

5%

Long term projects with expected results as from 2023

+1pp

More than double

Reduce non-recoverable industrial waste (a)

58 kt

Projects initiated in 2020 starting to deliver

-34%

Reduce by 30% 

Reduce intake of freshwater

315 Mm³

Volume growth compensated by greater efficiency

-5%

Reduce by 25% 

Safety with a zero accident policy (MTAR indicator) (a)

0.43

Reversal consistent with industry trends, action plan on globalizing near misses

-16%

Aim for zero

Accelerate DEI, parity in mid & senior management

25%

Launched Solvay One Dignity 9 goals

+1.3pp

Achieve 50% by 2035

Extend paternity leave time  

 

16 weeks policy open to all co-parents regardless of orientation since January 2021

implemented

16 weeks by 2021

(a) Restated due to change in methodology/scope
(b) Effective 2022, the CO2 price was increased from €75 to €100 per metric ton CO2 eq. as a consequence, the level for 2021 will be restated to 50%.

Progress on protecting Climate

Target

2021

Comment

Progress
versus 2018

2030
targets

Align GHG emissions with Paris Agreement and SBTi (a)

11Mt

Achieved 11% in aggregate versus 6.6% Paris Agreement

-14%
-11% structural

Reduce by 30% (-2.5%/yr)

Phase out coal wherever renewable alternatives exist

27

(1 plant 

exiting coal)

Exit announced at Rheinberg in 2020, at Dombasle in 2021, first step at Devnya in 2022

-18%
(petajoule)

Achieve 100%

Reduce negative pressure on Biodiversity

-13%

Volume growth more than offset by improved eco-profile accuracy

-24%

Reduce by 30% 

(a) Restated due to change in methodology/scope

Solvay actions to protect climate 

In October 2021, Solvay announced its plans to reach carbon neutrality on scope 1 and 2 emissions before 2040 for all businesses except soda ash and before 2050 in soda ash. Consequently, the 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions was upgraded to reduce by -30% from -26%, as compared to the 2018 baseline. The scope 3 target shall at least meet the 2°C criteria of the Science Based Targets initiative. A strategic initiative was also launched in 2021 to spur transformative progress with its suppliers in 2021. The Group will continue its effort in that direction beyond 2030 within its neutrality vision.

Previously, GHG emissions had been reduced by -14% at constant scope between 2018 and 2021, of which -11% relates to structural improvements and -3% to lower levels of production.  As part of its transition to cleaner energy sources, Solvay has 36 emission reduction projects identified, of which 21 are already underway. These represent 2.5 megatons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road. 

The use of coal for energy production is already being phased out of two soda ash plants in Europe. In 2020, Rheinberg in Germany began switching from coal to biomass, reducing the Group’s total emissions by -4% by 2025. More recently, the Dombasle site in France began exiting coal by transitioning to primarily refuse-derived fuel, cutting another -2% of the Group’s total emissions by 2024. And now in 2022, Solvay takes the first step to reduce coal usage in its largest European soda ash operation in Devnya, Bulgaria by converting a boiler to biomass. All projects generate returns above 15% and further de-risk our operations. 

Solvay has also decreased its pressure on biodiversity by -24% versus 2018 according to the ReCiPe methodology (reducing pressure on terrestrial acidification, climate, water eutrophication, marine ecotoxicity). The overall trend is fully aligned with 2030 targets, with part of this progress related to methodology improvements. In 2021, the Paulinia site in Brazil was awarded the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) Gold Certificate and our efforts to restore the Cuchia Quarry in Spain also received recognition.

Solvay’s climate progress was recently recognized by CDP (formerly the “Carbon Disclosure Project'') who upgraded Solvay’s rating from B to A-, which is in the leadership band, and higher than the chemical sector average of B.

Progress on preserving Resources

Target

2021

Comment

Progress
versus 2018

2030
targets

Increase sustainable solutions, % of Group sales 

53% (b)

Improved eco-profile and increased number of sustainable solutions

+3pp

Achieve 65%

Increase circular economy, % of Group sales

5%

Long term projects with expected results as from 2023

+1pp

More than double

Reduce non-recoverable industrial waste (a)

58 kt

Projects initiated in 2020 starting to deliver

-34%

Reduce by 30% 

Reduce intake of freshwater

315 Mm³

Volume growth compensated by greater efficiency

-5%

Reduce by 25% 

(b) Effective 2022, the CO2 price was increased from €75 to €100 per metric ton CO2 eq. as a consequence, the level for 2021 will be restated to 50%.

Solvay actions to preserve resources  

In 2021, the proportion of sales from sustainable solutions improved by +1 percentage point, largely reflecting the reduction of environmental impact in production within Specialty Polymers and Peroxides, the acquisition of new agriculture activities, and the requalification of some solutions for coatings. 

Regarding circularity, Solvay’s tripartite partnership between Veolia and Renault to establish a sustainable supply source for strategic battery raw materials is on track. The hydrometallurgical process to extract and purify cobalt, lithium and nickel from Veolia’s battery cells at end of life has proven successful. The project is now moving into an engineering phase for construction of a pilot plant.  

Innovation to develop more sustainable solutions is a continuous process for Solvay teams collaborating with partners and customers to anticipate future needs and identify higher performance requirements for new technologies. As an example, solutions for the next generation of battery technologies are underway with a clear roadmap (Gen 3 and the solid state battery Gen 4). Solvay is the front-runner in Europe for this new technology, and we are investing in the most advanced pilot plant in Europe. Also in the automotive market, Solvay partnered with Bridgestone and Arlanxeo to launch TECHSYN, a new tire technology platform reducing overall fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while enhancing tread mileage. In the consumer space, customers are recognizing Solvay for its Actizone™ innovation— a unique long-lasting antimicrobial disinfection technology— which is now commercialized. 

In 2021, Solvay’s freshwater withdrawal remained essentially constant compared to 2020 (+1 Mm3), despite an organic sales growth of 17.0%.

In 2021, Solvay also successfully reached its target to reduce non-recoverable industrial waste by -30%, well in advance of its 2030 timeline. Much of this was accomplished from waste valorization, which is the process of reusing, recycling, or composting waste and converting them to more useful products. Some examples include repurposing waste for cement, transforming wastewater sludges into bricks for construction, and better monitoring of the waste management data.

Progress on fostering a Better life

Target

2021

Comment

Progress
versus 2018

2030
targets

Safety with a zero accident policy (MTAR indicator) (a)

0.43

Reversal consistent with industry trends, action plan on globalizing near misses

-16%

Aim for zero

Accelerate DEI, parity in mid & senior management

25%

Launched Solvay One Dignity 9 goals

+1.3pp

Achieve 50% by 2035

Extend paternity leave time  

 

16 weeks policy open to all co-parents regardless of orientation since January 2021

implemented

16 weeks by 2021

(a) Restated due to change in methodology/scope

Solvay actions to foster a better life

Investing in human capital remains a high priority, as this underpins the foundation that propels Solvay forward. 

Our safety results deteriorated in 2021 following the impact of the Covid-19 situation on behaviors and its impact on operations (volume growth, supply chain disruptions) created by the very strong recovery. The results in 2021 versus 2018 show good progress.

In 2021, we launched the Solvay One Dignity program with the objective to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization.

On Diversity, Solvay is accelerating gender equity at all mid and senior levels by 2030. The first step was to update a DEI dashboard with associated metrics. In addition, a Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) is planned to identify where current policies may be negatively impacting the advancement of female employees within the organization.

Solvay is also encouraging employees to bring their “whole self” to work and is supporting that ambition by helping colleagues create employee resource groups (ERGs) worldwide. Two new ERGs were launched in 2021 for African American employees.

On gender equity, Solvay is also working to ensure fair recruitment and has set a target for 50% participation of under-represented groups, including women, in the shortlist of all mid and senior level jobs. On pay equity, we are collecting data to help us identify if there are unjustified pay inequities across Group profiles. While there is more progress to be made, the current ratio of basic salaries of women to men by management category is encouraging. Solvay intends to publish these results for the most significant countries in its 2021 annual report, in an effort to promote transparency. 

Another highlight includes the launch of a new mentoring program: Almost 25% of our female junior managers responded to a call for volunteers to take part in “The A Effect Ambition Challenge”, an international program designed to help women boost their careers. In 2021, 150 women participated in the program and another 300 women are scheduled to participate in 2022.

In our effort to build a more inclusive workplace, Solvay launched a global survey to assess the inclusive culture. The results have been added to the DEI Dashboard and used as a baseline to track our progress. Eighty percent of employees feel they can be “themselves” at work. While this is a great insight, it also highlighted certain areas where Solvay needs to focus its efforts in 2022, such as the importance of speaking up when experiencing non inclusive behaviors. 

In December 2021, Solvay launched a Global Share Ownership Program, which is historic for the company and its employees — the first of its kind since the company went public in 1967. With this initiative, we seek to better align employees with the Group’s performance by offering them a 10% discount on Solvay shares. The aim is to promote an ownership mindset by broadening the employee perspective thereby promoting deeper engagement and participation in driving superior value.           

Solvay Solidarity Fund raised €15 million in 2020 thanks to the support of shareholders, directors, CEO and Executive managers, and employees. Originally set up to help employees cope with hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fund this year also addresses other kinds of hardship such as the aftermath of the floods in Belgium, Germany and China. To date €2.4 million has been provided to individuals and  €4 million to collective support: 30 projects in 13 countries

 

Incorporating ESG and sustainability factors into our long-term strategy

In addition to improving sustainability in our portfolio, operations and workplace, we take into consideration our impact on the entire value chain, from sourcing to customers and recycling. Through our new sustainability plan Solvay One Planet, we further focus on 10 measurable commitments where we have the biggest positive impact, directly and indirectly, in line with the ambition and requirements of the UN Sustainable development goals (SDGs).

That’s how we are going to enhance our positive impact on some of the most pressing planetary issues and pave the way for a circular economy.