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. 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 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. These center on the following areas:
- Mapping our water consumption;
- Drawing up water-related risk mitigation plans for prioritized industrial sites;
- Selecting projects that focus on reducing water consumption.
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.
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.