Our long-term ambition is to grow our business while reducing our environmental impact through climate action, resource efficiency and supply chain sustainability.
Based on our material assessment, we categorized ➜ our material topics. In the stream Operations with Impacts, we push ➜ climate action and resource efficiency ahead. Moreover, we look beyond our own premises and take our suppliers with us, ensuring
“Although the prerequisites on all our sites are different, we face the same challenge: our resources are finite and our ecosystems are degrading because of overuse. We've levelled up and added targets for water to our 2030 Sustainability Goals.”
We are committed to using our resources as efficiently as possible and eliminating or repurposing waste wherever we can. Through our resource management, we show our dedication to this important pillar on our sustainable journey – and we move ahead step by step. As part of our contribution to minimizing the use and waste of resources, we track several KPIs on water and waste management. We have set goals for 2030 to reduce our water withdrawal by 50% (absolute reduction) and 50% on water-stressed sites (intensity reduction). Furthermore, we aim for zero landfill waste and a waste efficiency of less than 35kg per ton product. A detailed description of all our KPIs, our resource efficiency targets and our progress over the years is downloadable here.
The manufacturing of paint can result in the generation of various by products that can have a negative impact on people and environment. We rely on raw materials and natural resources to run our business. Because of this, our coating production bears the risk of environmental stress and resource depletion. Waste is a major environmental topic in our industry. During our manufacturing process we produce hazardous and non-hazardous waste. This can include equipment cleaning solvents, filter bags, raw material packaging, off-spec products and pigment dusts from air pollution control equipment. By optimizing our water, and waste and energy management, we want to embrace resource efficiency in our business and make a positive contribution.
Odors, dust from solid raw materials, particulate matter and noise can all have impacts on our own operations and our surroundings. At Beckers we have developed the global concept for the ➜ Paint Plant of the Future (PPF) to minimize our impact on areas surrounding our sites, and to reduce resource consumption and emissions. The PPF concept defines standards for sustainability and high manufacturing efficiency at all our sites. This includes using renewable energy sources such as solar power, alternatives for heating and cooling, and highly automated manufacturing processes that save water, reduce waste and improve working conditions. Numerous projects aim to provide efficient ways to store key resins and solvents that reduce waste and the potential for accidents. For a better sustainability performance, new ➜ volatile organic compound (VOC) abatement systems, improved emission control, dust collectors, noise reduction measures and self-energy production through solar panels have been upgraded or will be standardized in all operations worldwide.
Water is one natural resource we are highly dependent on, as we use water in our facilities for example for cooling and cleaning, for product formulation and manufacturing of water-based coatings. Consequently, a sustainable water management, including reduced overall water intake, reused water, collected and stored rainwater, monitoring and prevention of groundwater contamination and wastewater discharge is important for us. Nine of our sites are in water-stressed areas where we take special measures to protect water. A significant number of our sites already reuse water, for example in their cooling systems.
In the manufacturing process, some production equipment (high-speed dissolvers, mills) needs cooling. The cold water used for this flows through a circuit, which is kept at a low temperature (6-8°C) via a chiller or cooling tower or a combination of both. This system is in use at all Beckers sites except one: Sweden uses an open circuit to cool machinery. This process will be replaced by a chiller with a closed-loop circuit in 2024, which will have a positive impact on water consumption.
In countries where water sources are under stress, we have initiated several projects. The aim is to collect and store rainwater for a variety of purposes. In India, rainwater is collected for harvesting and irrigation. In Vietnam, it is used to fill a reservoir for fire protection. In Argentina, we collect rainwater to irrigate a company vegetable garden for employees.
Water is not one of our standalone material topics, as our global consumption is currently marginal. However, we do monitor yearly water consumption closely as part of our initiatives within the ➜ 2030 Sustainability Strategy and have set two goals in 2022. We regularly review and monitor whether a topic – such as water – might become material.
When it comes to the handling of hazardous waste, our industry needs to be particularly well-prepared. Both the material inputs and the chemical by products are frequently hazardous. Our business activities have the negative side effect of producing waste, including hazardous waste (waste from chemicals or waste that is contaminated by chemicals) and waste as by products. We take responsibility for the potential environmental and health risks of this waste and are committed to eliminating, reducing and repurposing waste wherever we can and as much as possible. Following the waste hierarchy, we prevent and minimize waste by reusing cleaning solvents, as well as adjusting returned or leftover products while maintaining product specifications and quality. Whenever possible, we also ensure packaging materials are kept in a ‘closed loop’ between our suppliers and customers – which ensures they are reused as much as possible before disposal. We aim to switch from landfill to incineration.This allows the possibility to recover energy from heat generated through burning waste – and to refurbish materials to accelerate the circular economy, e.g., through reusing intermediate bulk containers.
In 2022, we took a number of concrete actions to further foster our resource efficiency. We implemented various measures at our sites to avoid and – if unavoidable – to minimize the waste we generated. In 2022, we significantly reduced our waste to landfill by 60 percent, mainly by switching to energetic revalorization and by implementing selective waste segregation measures to achieve a higher recycling rate, for example at our site in South Africa. Moreover, we were able to reduce the material sent externally for reprocessing or disposal by finding new solutionsto re-introduce these materials into our production processes.
In a paint factory there is the risk of serious incidents such as spills that pollute land, air or water. To deal with the risk of accidental spills and pollution, we have detailed emergency plans and train employees and visitors on the procedures. Measures to monitor and prevent contamination of groundwater are standard procedure and comply with all local laws.
Above all, we engage with our stakeholders through constant dialogue because we want to understand their needs and work together on our sustainable journey to optimize resource efficiency. Find out more about our stakeholder engagement here.
Our commitments regarding water, waste and other influences on the environment from our use of hazardous materials are strictly regulated, and we have implemented procedures to ensure proper handling, storing, and labeling of dangerous materials. Our strongest commitment lies in ➜ our 2030 Sustainability Strategy that goes far beyond legislation and the goals we have long communicated.
Different policies and frameworks underline our commitments, such as our Sustainability Policy, ➜ our Group Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Policy and essential frameworks such as ➜ our Code of Conduct and ➜ our Supplier Code of Conduct.
Due to our actions, we contributeto the achievement of the ➜ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) as well climate action (SDG 13).
For further information on the SDGs click here