Strategy and Analysis

Chief Executive’s Statement

As we continue to grow so too does our passion for sustainability. It is a key component of how we are judged and how we judge ourselves, continuing to decouple our growth and increasing shareholder value from our impact on the environment.


This is our tenth year of sustainability reporting. Over this time, underpinned by strong governance, we have grown in knowledge and stature, and we are proud of the many remarkable achievements and successful sustainability initiatives that have come from all areas of our Business. This diversity is one of the most rewarding elements in our continuing sustainability story. Rather than being prescriptive, sustainability has become inherent in our thinking. Our year-on-year improvement in many of the external sustainability measures, such as CDP and EcoVadis reflect the strong evolution of our sustainability programme.


In our response to global mega trends we are driving consistent top and bottom line growth through product and process innovation, focusing on the future challenges and opportunities they are creating. This is delivering greater differentiation and further widening the gap between ourselves and our peers.


Sustainability growing in all business sectors


Together with innovation, quality and service, sustainability is now firmly established as a fourth metric in all of our consumer facing businesses. Personal care consumer goods companies have industry leading programmes with commitments to increase their sustainability credentials. As an industry leader, our role is to proactively contribute to these programmes, enabling our customers to meet or exceed consumers’ expectations. While some of our non-consumer facing market sectors may have different terms of reference for their sustainability programmes and goals, we are promoting what we consider to be best practice across the many different industries we serve. In 2016 we introduced the concept of ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ sustainability benefits, which help our customers across many industries make informed decisions about our products.


Acquisitions contributing to sustainability


The 11 acquisitions we have made in my tenure as CEO all deliver tangible sustainability benefits in their respective market sectors. Our 2017 acquisition of Enza Biotech is a great example as it supports our development of next generation renewable surfactants. Using biotechnology to alter the chemical structure of naturally derived compounds that have superior functionality and compatibility; their environmentally friendly production process yields products that are 100% renewable and biodegradable.


Making a positive difference


Our uniquely different position relative to our predominantly petrochemical based peers is illustrated by our high consumption of renewable, sustainable raw materials. Most of these raw materials are plant based, and during plant growth photosynthesis occurs, a reaction that takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

For some feedstocks this removal of atmospheric CO2 gives us a ‘carbon negative’ starting point for our processes. Continuing our focus on carbon and taking responsibility in meeting the challenges of climate change, we recently commissioned our pioneering bio-ethylene oxide plant in North America. Here we are using bio-ethanol as feedstock to replace petrochemicals in the manufacture of ethylene oxide, enabling the manufacture of 100% bio-based surfactants.


Sustainable culture


Our 2017 Global Employee Culture Survey confirmed the shared values throughout our Business, a vital differentiator in our continued success. Investing in our people and the communities in which we operate is a key focus with over 107,000 recorded training hours during the year and 5,073 reported 1% Club volunteering hours, 50.0% of which was spent delivering educational programmes.


Looking forward


Our coherent approach to sustainability and our focus on helping customers achieve their current and future sustainability targets will ensure our continued success through 2018 and beyond.

I would like to thank everyone across the Group for the contributions they make to sustainability every day.


Steve Foots, Group Chief Executive

To continue to deliver improvement we must establish clear commitments and performance targets aligned to our 10 Material Areas and their longer-term objectives. By Material Areas we mean topics or issues with the potential to affect the long term success of our business, which includes the economies, environments and societies in which we operate. Targets have been set with our Group Executive Committee that support our sustainability strategy and ensure that progress is made in addressing our Material Areas.

Our Material Areas and targets are reviewed on an annual basis at a Strategic Review meeting between the Sustainability Steering Committee and our Group Executive Committee. As a result of this meeting, in 2015 our 10 Material Areas were further developed and have been linked with the risks in our Global Risk Framework (see GRI 102-11).  We will continue to review and develop the scope, objective and targets of each Material Area as the risks and opportunities in each area change.

Our 10 Material Areas are now as follows:

Material Area Long-term Objective Link to Key Risks 
Environmental Impact Minimise the impact of our operations Major environmental incident
Product Stewardship Ensure that the ingredients we produce contribute positively to the environment and society throughout their lifecycle   
Product Design Deliver the most innovative and sustainable ingredients to our customers Global Raw material security and sustainability
Quality Assurance To contribute to, and proactively seek, higher quality standards across product

and operational aspects of our Business to ensure consumer safety
Product Liability Chemical regulatory compliance
Process Safety Keeping our manufacturing sites safe and legally compliant Major safety incident
Occupational Health & Safety Empower employees to have health and safety at the forefront of their thinking Major safety incident
Our People Create an environment where people can thrive Employee recruitment, retention and motivation
Succession planning for senior positions
Diversity & Inclusion Embrace and empower all individuals  
Knowledge Management Safeguard our knowledge and expertise      Security of business information and assets
Education & Involvement
Support the communities in which we operate, with a primary focus on encouraging young people to work within science and technology  

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