Acting Responsibly for the Planet
As a leading global specialty chemicals and performance materials company, we place a high value on the efficient and safe use of natural resources to manufacture and distribute products that minimize impact to our environment.Environmental issues significantly affect us all on a global scale, and it is the responsibility of governments and corporations alike to help find solutions to these challenges. As such, we seek to conduct our business in a sustainable manner and to deliver innovative solutions that help address the sustainability challenges of our customers, our communities and our world. We acknowledge that we have a responsibility not only to remain compliant with applicable environmental regulations in the locations where we operate but also to lessen the impacts we have on the planet. We are proud of the steps we have taken to address environmental performance and the leadership we have shown within our industry, but we also know that our work is not done. We must continue to work toward innovative, cost-effective solutions to reduce our environmental impacts while remaining competitive within our industries.
Of the 11 material topics serving as the foundation of our sustainability program, more than half are related to environmental performance. The management of these topics is guided by our Safety, Health and Environment (SH&E) Policy, and our performance is measured against specific goals to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs), nitrogen oxide (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, and waste by 2025. We also continuously monitor our environmental compliance performance against internal year-over-year improvement targets. To accelerate our performance, we routinely evaluate our environmental management practices to uncover broader opportunities that translate to environmental benefits, increased efficiency and reduced operating costs.
We are acting responsibly for the planet by:
Compliance is managed through our Drive to Zero initiative focused on reducing environmental non-conformance (ENC) events, which we define as any event resulting in a reportable spill or release, a notice of violation, a public complaint, or a regulatory permit deviation. Our internal standards are developed to meet or exceed laws, regulations and the requirements of voluntary programs such as Responsible Care. Our approach to compliance is designed to prevent environmental incidents by emphasizing proactive measures such as training and job planning with employees, contractors and business partners. Environmental awareness training is provided to manufacturing facility employees as part of their new employee orientation training, and ongoing training is provided for job-specific tasks in order to maintain a high level of performance.
We seek to promote continuous improvement by undertaking thorough investigations of any incidents that do occur in order to identify the root cause of the event and determine appropriate corrective actions. To help minimize the potential for repeating a similar incident, the results of these findings are shared broadly throughout our global network of facilities. We manage compliance through our comprehensive SH&E audit program. These audits are conducted regularly and provide another opportunity to share best practices and learnings across our network.
The overall management strategy for our emission reduction program is led by our business segments, regions and individual facilities. We continue to look to develop and implement cost-effective technologies that help meet both our emission reduction and our operational efficiency goals. We engage closely with governments in the areas where we operate, as they aim to reduce industrial and commercial sources of emissions in their communities. Often, this engagement is through our active participation and leadership in various industry groups.
Responsibility for water resource management predominantly resides at the facility level. Both intake and discharge of water are typically governed by state and local water permits, and we strive for full compliance with our obligations under these permits. We also look for opportunities to increase water efficiency and recycle wastewater when feasible.
Our water management is evaluated by reviewing data on water withdrawal and water discharge intensity. This allows us to evaluate our water usage for each of our business units, as our numerous manufacturing processes vary in their water requirements. While we do not yet have a goal related to water use, we have been monitoring annual water use and discharges at our manufacturing facilities since 2009 to better understand where our water is sourced; what our withdrawal rates are; and the volume, quality and destination of water discharged from our facilities. Each year, as part of our comprehensive Enterprise Risk Management program, we conduct a water risk evaluation of our manufacturing facility locations in order to identify which of them may be impacted by future water scarcity issues.
Because energy is such a crucial part of our manufacturing processes, energy use is managed at several levels throughout the organization. Leaders from our business segments, Corporate SH&E, Global Engineering and our research teams collaborate to evaluate new energy-saving technologies and implement capital programs to improve energy efficiency and enhance our ability to capture and utilize waste energy. Management practices designed to optimize operations and implement efficiency measures are undertaken at the facility level. Data on energy use and sources is collected and analyzed through our internally developed corporate energy metric, which evaluates the energy efficiency of each facility and is used to determine energy trends and improvement opportunities.
Waste is measured by tracking progress against our intensity target and seeking opportunities to reduce waste during manufacturing. Expectations for the management of waste and the handling of chemicals are governed by internal standards applicable to all our manufacturing facilities. Compliance with these expectations is regularly evaluated through our comprehensive SH&E audit program. We aim to avoid all spills through careful management and design of the processes at our facilities, and we conduct training on spill management and emergency response so we are prepared in the event of an incident. We also implement programs to identify reuse opportunities for off-quality products and other waste streams, and to improve facility resource efficiency to reduce waste generation.
The Safety, Health, Environment and Sustainability (SHE&S) Committee of our Board of Directors has oversight of environmental issues at the highest governance level. Executive leadership for implementing environmental strategies and policies is provided by the senior vice president for SH&E, who is responsible for guiding our company on all matters related to SHE&S performance and oversees a global team of professionals assisting our locations in improving overall environmental performance.