Doing business responsibly and sustainably
Our approach to sustainability is founded on ethical business practices, and a strong commitment to people and the planet.
In 2020, we developed a sustainability framework, based on a materiality analysis to identify where we can make the biggest impact. It defines three main axes for enhancing our sustainable performance over the coming years:
- Safety is our top priority, central to our robust internal business practices;
- High impact areas linked to our core business, such as circular economy, green innovation and recycling;
- Our commitment to provide solutions for sustainable water management.
A dedicated council (involving both the ExCom in full and internal experts) has been established to oversee the implementation of the framework.
1. Robust internal business practices
Health and Safety, our top priority
In 2020, we focused on keeping our people safe, both from incidents at work and from COVID-19 contamination.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected Aliaxis’ operations in many ways: government-mandated lockdowns, travel restrictions, and most importantly ensuring employee health and safety, while maintaining operational commitments to meet our customers’ needs.
A Group crisis team and local crisis management teams were activated to provide a global integrated response. To our knowledge, we had no contamination in the workplace. However, since the outbreak of the pandemic hundreds of colleagues around the world where infected and sadly 5 of them passed away. Via the Aliaxis People Solidarity Fund, we provided support to employees heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Find out more in our highlights
At Aliaxis we strive for an injury-free work environment and safety is our top priority. Our leading indicator is the reportable incident rate per million hours worked. In 2020, there were 21% fewer accidents versus 2019, North America being the region which improved most with a decrease of 28%.
375 in 2020 vs 473 in 2019
number of reportable incidents per million hours worked
We track both incidents and near misses in order to capture all learnings and engage teams across the organisation on the lessons learnt to ensure efficient cross-fertilisation. As part of the insights from both effective incidents and near misses, we identified the top risks which can lead to most severe injuries.
That’s why in 2020, we focused on two safety standards: “forklift and pedestrians” and “use of lifting equipment”. These standards require thorough review at each site, to identify potential gaps. A risk assessment of identified gaps is then carried out to prioritise corrective actions to be implemented. The responsibility sits with the site leader and there is systematic follow-up with management.
In 2020, we have kept reinforcing the development of our safety culture among our people, starting with top managers.
Going forklift-free at our Pineville moulding plant
Business ethics & labour standards
Aliaxis is committed to conducting its business with integrity and in compliance with the law. We provide strong policies, employee training (on Code of Conduct, privacy, anti-corruption and anti-bribery and competition law) and a whistleblowing mechanism.
Aliaxis respects and protects employees’ fundamental rights across all our locations. In 2020, we adopted global labour standards across the Group, aligned to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Conventions.
While the industry gender gap continues to be widespread in most industries today, Aliaxis aims to tackle it. Female talent remains one of the most underutilised business resources and we developed a new global programme to attract and develop more female employees.
In some areas of the company, we achieved gender balance, such as in our Research hub in Paris where 57% of our employees are female. Across the Group, many local initiatives underline our pledge to be an inclusive employer. In North America, we select a diverse pool of candidates thanks to our ‘Associate in Training’ programme (AIT). Through the AIT, we have hired new engineering graduates, with 31% female and 38% minority hires to date. In the UK, we are now a member of Inclusive Employers, an organisation that leads the way in supporting businesses to build inclusive workplaces.
average age of employees
Environmental standards: waste & water
We are committed to minimising any adverse environmental impacts associated with our direct operations, with a focus on water use and solid waste management. In 2020, we developed our first two global environmental standards – covering waste management and water management.
Benefits of rainfall harvesting
At Yatala Plastics in Australia, we use recirculating process water to cool extrusion heads and pipes. We installed four large rainwater harvesting tanks, offering a total of 72,000 litres of water storage. When full, the tanks can provide up to 28 days of process water supply.
Reducing plastic pellet loss through Operation Clean Sweep
One of the most urgent environmental challenges facing the industrial sector is the mismanagement of waste and raw materials in manufacturing. This includes pellets, powder and flakes of resin and additives, some of which enters the waste stream and the oceans.
‘Operation Clean Sweep’ (OCS) is an industry-wide, voluntary initiative aimed at tackling this form of waste, preventing pollution and damage to our oceans. By joining this collective, global effort, Aliaxis is playing its part in preserving biodiversity, maintaining water supplies and creating a sustainable future. All our EMEA sites have signed up to OCS, and we expect all Aliaxis sites to have signed up by end of 2021.
2.High impact areas linked to our core business
Circular economy & recycling
Aliaxis is developing its contribution to the circular economy, reusing waste plastics as recycled raw materials, reducing waste generation and minimising our environmental footprint.
We play our role in setting relevant quality standards in the field of recycled plastics, and are increasing the proportion of recycled content in our products. We are also reducing waste and our environmental footprint by identifying and implementing opportunities that advance towards a more circular economy for plastics.
recyclate used in our Ecolotube product in Canada
In 2020, we carried out a survey across our markets on the use of recyclate. The aim is to establish a baseline of our current use of recycled materials, and to identify opportunities to expand our use.
We have also forged partnerships with external stakeholders, including innovative start-ups, to explore greater recycling of PVC and Polyolefin materials.
Australia, progressing well on recycling
Reducing our environmental impact from cradle to grave is a strong driver. Vinidex in Australia has structured supply deals with companies that collect construction and demolition waste for recycling. We have invested in equipment to clean, wash, shred and micronise waste, so that we can re-use it in our production.
We have received a grant from the Australian Government that will support our efforts to upgrade one of our facilities in 2021, to increase the amount of recycled PVC we can process.
Green innovation for our customers
Within the green innovation programme, we are developing new technologies, processes and solutions to reduce our environmental footprint and assist our customers and end-users in limiting their environmental footprint.
In 2020, we continued to apply eco-design principles that address energy use, waste production, raw material use, packaging and hazardous materials. We also devoted considerable research to developing environmental-friendly jointing technologies.
Our product development and research portfolios include innovations designed to reduce the weight of products, conserve materials, protect the environment and increase product lifetime. For example, RadonX is a solution available in North America, which removes dangerous gas. And in Italy, our lighter products have a measurable benefit in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.
We also identified a partner (VITO – an independent Belgian research organisation specialising in cleantech and sustainable development) to help us build a lifecycle assessment approach into our innovation process.
Climate change & energy efficiency
Aliaxis started to work in a coordinated manner on improving energy efficiency in factories and is committed to reducing carbon emissions in the value chain. Some of our operations are further advanced when it comes to producing renewable energy, in particular in India and the UK, thanks to the use of solar panels, but also in Quebec, Canada, where several plants use hydropower.
*2019 figures still incl. Ceramics business in Germany
During the year, our energy efficiency (kWh/tonne produced) improved by 5.7% and greenhouse gas emissions (kg CO2 equivalent/ tonne produced) decreased by 7.5%, compared to 2019. In 2020, we also rolled out site self-assessments to identify potential energy efficiency projects. Finally, we completed a carbon footprint analysis of our whole value chain, working with the environmental consultancy company ERM.
People with purpose & volunteering
Whether it is taking responsibility for saving energy, researching sustainable materials for our products, or volunteering in the community, our employees make a real difference.
We have defined a procedure for charitable donations across all our businesses. This provides guidelines on approval processes, and how to select and process a donation. It also ensures that we link charitable giving more closely to our sustainability approach.
Improving lives in partnership with Selavip
The Selavip Foundation is a non-governmental organisation that helps some of the world’s poorest families live with dignity, in a stable home. Aliaxis uses its expertise in water management and sanitation to support their mission around the world. In 2020, we supported around 1,100 families in Latin America and India:
- building a drinking water and sewage system in El Salvador (serving 764 families);
- repairing sanitary facilities in Nicaragua (affecting 90 families);
- providing access to safe drinking water (to 154 families) in Udayagiri (Andhra Pradesh, India);
- building a drinking water system (for 80 families) in Macherla (Andhra Pradesh, India).
3. Sustainable water management solutions
A water management portfolio
Our products play an important role in addressing the challenges the world faces in water management. We provide solutions to:
- give people access to clean water and sanitation;
- handle water abundance, from stormwater management to drainage solutions;
- deal with water scarcity, such as rainwater harvesting;
- ensure water quality, through water treatment, hot and cold systems, and drainage in high-rise buildings.
of Aliaxis products are used to distribute or store water
aligned to the United Nations’ sustainability development goals
In 2020, we identified products, systems and solutions that support ‘sustainable water management’. This is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG 6 to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
We are committed to delivering quality products, services and solutions to support sanitation for all and provide sustainable water management.
After the initial hit from COVID-19 in early 2020, we saw heterogeneous recovery in the second half of the year. The Group ended the year in a solid financial position.