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Entire supply chain has a role in improving sustainability, say minerals experts and customers in online discussion

Imerys organized and took part in a live discussion on how sustainable mineral solutions can help businesses reach their ESG goals – and the importance of including the entire supply chain in their efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

A screenshot of videoconference discussion

The sustainability challenge ahead of us is huge – but no organisation alone can find a solution. That was the key message from a round table organized by Imerys, in which industry leaders shared views and ideas on how businesses must engage the full supply chain to further improve the sustainability of their operations, including the minerals and raw materials used.

For the event, broadcast on LinkedIn, Guillaume Delacroix, the Senior Vice President of Imerys’ Performance Minerals EMEA Business Area, was joined by leaders from industries that Imerys collaborates with:

  • Johan Granås, Head of Sustainability at Holmen Iggesund Paperboard
  • Anne Teissié-Solier, Director GSM, EMEA & Asia Operations & Global Direct Category Management at Corning
  • Daniela Vlad, Managing Director for Powder Coatings at AkzoNobel
  • Martijn Eikelenboom, Managing Partner and Global Head of Sustainability at Arthur D Little

Taking a scientific approach to embedding sustainability

More than 700 people worldwide registered for the live event, which drew more than 7,000 views within a month of the live recording. The event generated a lively discussion among the panellists – and in the comments section, with 250 ideas and questions shared by viewers. 

Chaired by journalist Rochelle Ferguson, the debate considered how sustainable mineral solutions can help businesses reach their environmental goals; the importance of innovation; and the need to include and involve every actor in the value chain in order to reach global sustainability goals.

Guillaume spoke about the need to be proactive, rather than reactive, and to have a transparent, fact-based approach. He explained that Imerys is working to systemically embed sustainability into all its processes and routines.

“Society at large is expecting industrial companies to be more sustainable. It’s also a key factor for recruitment,” he said. “The sustainable growth of our business and the ability to attract and retain talent are big incentives.”

Innovation across the value chain is key to meeting environmental challenges

Environmental governance is a topic that, to be effective, needs to involve everyone.

Johan Granås from Holmen Iggesund Paperboard, said that the challenges cannot be solved by organisations on their own. “We need our business partners upstream and downstream in our value chain to be participating. Being open and sharing innovation with your suppliers is super important.”

Martijn Eikelenboom from Arthur D Little added that the pressure to stand up is “enormous” and that firms are changing their supplier base who don’t meet their green credentials or deprioritising customers if their end applications are not sustainable enough.

Daniela Vlad from AkzoNobel added that innovation will play a fundamental role: “In the past, sustainability was a nice-to-have offer to customers as an additional feature. Now it’s a must, it’s a demand – and you have to innovate in a chain, and do it in such a way that it becomes a differentiating factor.”

Full lifecycle analysis of mineral production

Guillaume explained how Imerys is looking to unlock the sustainable potential of its products through full lifecycle analysis – making sure that when its products leave the gate and enter the downstream value chain, its environmental footprint is a positive one.

In 2020, Imerys launched its SustainAgility Solutions Assessment framework, a process for developing the Group’s product portfolio and ensuring Imerys’ sustainable future. More than 70 product life cycle assessments have been completed since 2019, with an additional 20 studies ongoing in 2021.

“We can assess our various products and share tangible proof of how sustainable they are,” said Guillaume. “We are being transparent, systematic and scientific in our approach with our customers and with the customers of our customers. Through that network, altogether, we can really move the needle.”

The framework is the next step in Imerys’ SustainAgility program, a commitment to sustainability that is structured around three key principles: we empower our people, we care for our planet and we build for the future.

Within the SustainAgility objectives, which are all aligned to numerous United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Imerys has set a target* – validated by the Science Based Target initiative – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36% relative to revenue (tCO2/M€) by 2030 from a 2018 base year in alignment with a 2°C trajectory.

* edit from 2023: The target is now about reducing scopes 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms (tons of CO2 equivalent) by 42% by 2030 from a 2021 base year, in alignment with a 1.5°C trajectory and reducing scope 3 emissions in absolute terms by 25% with the same timeframe.

Watch an extract from our live