As a science and technology company with manufacturing operations, we utilize resources and materials that could have a potentially negative impact on the environment if not handled properly. To mitigate this effect, all our sites meet a strict set of environmental requirements.
A holistic approach is needed to minimize negative impacts on the environment and sustainably preserve resources in the long run. Intelligent environmental stewardship reduces resource use and lowers costs.
We continuously seek to reduce our environmental footprint, which requires us to utilize resources such as raw materials, energy, and water both sparingly and efficiently while also cutting emissions and waste.
Clearly assigned responsibilities
Ultimate responsibility for environmental stewardship is borne by Kai Beckmann, Executive Board member and Chief Administration Officer. The Group function Environment, Health, Safety, Security, Quality (EQ) is in charge of steering all environmental measures Group-wide. At our individual sites, each site director is responsible for environmental stewardship as well as occupational health and safety at the operational level. At larger facilities, the site directors receive day-to-day support and advice from Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) managers, with EHS coordinators performing this role at smaller facilities.
Fundamental strategy for environmental sustainability
Our approach to environmental stewardship is built on our Corporate Environment, Health and Safety Policy, which we updated in 2016. This policy is now aligned more closely with the stipulations of the chemical industry's Responsible Care® Charter, as well as environmental management standard ISO 14001, and it emphasizes our management's responsibility toward environmental stewardship, health and safety. Moreover, it addresses our suppliers, encouraging them to adopt similarly high standards for environmental sustainability and safety. In doing so, our Corporate Environment, Health and Safety Policy complements the Responsible Sourcing Principles of our Group Procurement function.
The principles of our EHS policy are implemented through internal guidelines, standards and operating manuals. For instance, our Group EHS, Security and Quality Manual describes how environmental stewardship and occupational safety are organized across the company. We ensure compliance with all requirements through internal and external audits. Additionally, employees have the option of reporting compliance violations to Group Compliance. In the 2015-2016 period, no significant violations of environmental laws or regulations were recorded within the company.
We regularly review and update our internal guidelines, standards and operating manuals. Following the 2015 acquisition of the U.S.-based life science company Sigma-Aldrich, all their existing EHS standards were reviewed and aligned with ours.
ISO 14001 Group certificate
We manage our environmental sustainability efforts via an ISO 14001:2004 certified management system. Since 2009, our company has had a corresponding Group certificate, which means that all production sites with more than 50 employees must implement the requirements of the certificate. Smaller sites are not obligated to implement an ISO-certified environmental management system. New sites must incrementally establish a corresponding environmental management system and obtain ISO 14001 certification. Every year, we contract a third party to perform a certification audit. Furthermore, we conduct internal surveillance audits to ensure compliance with our requirements.
ISO 14001 certification expanded
In 2015 and 2016, we passed all ISO 14001 surveillance audits. Seven Sigma-Aldrich sites already had ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems, which were transferred to our Group certificate in 2016. Our certificate now covers 57 sites worldwide. In 2017 and 2018, we intend to integrate 30 additional Sigma-Aldrich sites into the certificate.
All manufacturing facilities of AZ Electronic Materials, a company we acquired in 2014, have been ISO 14001 certified and integrated into our Group certificate since early 2015. Moreover, we have also incorporated all AZ sites into our internal audit program. Corrective measures have been taken to remedy any defects found.
Switch to ISO 14001:2015
In September 2015, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) introduced ISO 14001:2015, an updated version of this standard. Among other changes, ISO 14001:2015 more strongly emphasizes a supply chain approach. We have to adapt our environmental management system to reflect the new version by 2018. In 2015, we conducted internal audits to determine the extent to which we were already meeting the new requirements. In 2016, we then analyzed our individual sites in detail to see where changes still needed to be made. We expect the results in early 2017 and will use them to adapt our approach to environmental management.