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Solvay sustainability for future generations

Nature

Addressing nature’s call for action

Caring for the planet

At Solvay, we’re dedicated to minimizing the impact of our activities on nature. This means acting on both a local and global level to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, protect ecosystems, and prevent nature loss. 

We’re taking steps to actively enhance biodiversity and are supporting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). Adopted at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada in December 2022, the GBF commits to a series of key biodiversity goals and targets by 2030.

We continuously assess the sustainability of our business across our value chain. While ensuring that we, and our stakeholders, operate with care for the nature around us is a central part of our strategy.

Upstream, we make an effort to source responsibly, including switching to more sustainable and recyclable materials and using renewable sources of energy whenever possible. Downstream we’re taking a variety of actions, such as recycling residues from the production of SOLVAir® flue gas cleaning solutions into raw materials used at our soda ash plants. 

Reducing our environmental impact

Improving our waste management and reducing our water footprint are among the important steps we’re taking to minimize our impact on the environment and preserve scarce natural resources. These measures help improve the sustainability of our products, allowing us to better meet our customers’ expectations for effective products with minimum negative effect on the environment. 

Our Star Factory program, which is currently being rolled out globally across all our sites, defines clear sustainability action plans for each Solvay plant. These include targeted long-term changes designed to reduce our freshwater intake, non-sustainable industrial waste, and emissions. We are developing water intake and consumption reduction roadmaps for over 20 of our sites. This comes on top of our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality for our business by 2050 – across our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. 

By the end of 2022, we had already reduced our global pressure on biodiversity by 29%. This puts us well on track to achieve our goal of cutting this by 30% by 2030 – compared to 2018 levels. 

 

Water stewardship

Water is essential to our operations, and we are unwavering in our dedication to help conserve water in the areas where we are active. The increase in drought and other extreme weather events around the world have been driving forces behind the creation of our water conservation action plans. 

We have conducted an analysis of the hydric stress situation at our manufacturing sites based on the Water Risk Filter tool developed by the World Wildlife Fund to identify physical, regulatory, and reputational risks related to the use of water. Used in combination with local information and underlying risks, this tool led to our identification of three priority levels among which eight of our sites are high priority and eleven are medium priority.

As a result, we created and began implementation of several projects and actions, such as:

  • Detailed water mapping to detect leakages and identify actions to repair (e.g. in our French sites, Collonges and Dombasle).
  • Consolidated annual reporting of water withdrawals and in priority sites, direct monitoring of water consumption, with weekly reporting in the event of a drought crisis. We can now monitor more than 90% of Solvay’s daily freshwater intake across the world, thanks to the dashboard put in place last year.
  • Drawing up and/or updating water-related risk mitigation plans for each industrial site. We now have 10 plants with water mitigation plans, with the potential to achieve 10% water intake reduction through specific water projects and even possibly going beyond thanks to our carbon neutrality strategy.
  • Launching water consumption reduction projects to manage risks at priority sites.

At our silica plant in Włocławek, Poland, we were able to reduce the freshwater intake by 8% in 2023 compared to 2022 at similar production levels thanks to water reuse and recycling initiatives.
In parallel, to minimize the consumption of surface water and control well water intake, we continued to optimize the operation of cooling towers. Actions were implemented in several sites, such as at our soda ash plant in Bernburg, Germany, where we put in place a tracer-based river water system targeted at reducing river water intake by 250.000 m³ on a yearly basis beginning in 2023.

Solvay_Map-Water

 

Waste management 

Solvay is committed to preserving nature and its resources and for many years we have implemented initiatives to reduce, reuse, recycle or recover the waste we generate.  

Among the steps we’re taking to lessen the environmental impact of our operations is the improved management of non-sustainable industrial waste (NSIW). This is waste that is landfilled or incinerated without energy recovery. 

 

Monitoring emissions  

Emissions need to be carefully handled to minimize any negative impact on both people and the planet. At Solvay, we thoroughly assess risk to make sure any emissions to air or water are below hazardous levels.  

Emissions of hazardous substances are regulated and the same applies to nutrient pollution: i.e., excess nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, in effluents. Solvay is committed to being compliant with all regulations. In addition, we are voluntarily monitoring our emissions of more than one hundred (potentially) harmful substances and groups of substances. 

Protecting and restoring biodiversity

Our manufacturing sites around the world have been assessed in accordance with internationally recognized biodiversity evaluation tools. From this, we have prioritized sites such as Paulinia in Brazil, Rosignano in Italy, and Torrelavega in Spain for the development and implementation of biodiversity roadmaps. 

Each action plan is being developed with the objective of protecting local ecosystems. The process involves gathering information about the area’s flora and fauna, identifying projects to conserve and restore biodiversity and measuring the impacts of these activities. We do this in close collaboration with a network of local stakeholders. 

Milestones to date include the Paulinia complex, located around 50 kilometers north of São Paulo, being awarded a Gold Conservation Certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council

In 2022, the lake at our Rosignano facility was highlighted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an example of a company taking action on biodiversity. The lake was built in the 1960s to supply the site with water and is today a nature reserve – the Santa Luce Lake Nature Reserve – also used for educational and scientific initiatives.  

We continue to implement our biodiversity action plans because we understand that our work to preserve nature and support biodiversity in the areas we operate has only just begun.