A significant part of the environmental and social impact in our value chain is upstream of our own operations.
To safeguard an overall positive environmental and social impact of our sustainable solutions, we need to ensure our raw materials are sourced responsibly.
Our responsible sourcing strategy focuses on our agricultural raw materials, which are critical for the production of our natural, biobased solutions.
A sustainable agricultural supply chain is essential for the communities in which we operate, as well as for our business.
We focus on raw materials derived from sugarcane, soy, corn, wheat, and palm oil, which represent some 90% of our agricultural-derived raw materials by quantity.
Farming of sugarcane and oil palm has been linked to a number of serious social and environmental sustainability risks.
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These include forced and child labor, hazardous labor conditions, conflict over land rights, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation. Implementation of sustainable agriculture is the only way to maintain economic performance while minimizing the damage to the environment and creating thriving farming communities.
For soy, corn, and wheat, which we source from the US, the main areas of improvement relate to land use (biodiversity), soil health, water, greenhouse gas emissions, and farmer livelihoods.
Corbion is not directly involved in the growing, harvesting, and processing of these crops.
We therefore focus our efforts on our tier-1 suppliers that source directly from farmers, and partner with them to address social and environmental issues at farm level.
Our approach focuses on continuous improvement toward the implementation of the relevant sustainability standard for each of these raw materials.
- Corbion’s approach to responsible sourcing
We assess all of our raw materials on potential risks related to procurement, quality (including food safety), and sustainability in our security-of-supply assessment, which is updated annually.
For each pillar, several criteria are rated to estimate the risk of supply issues.
The risk assessment results in a high, medium, or low score for each raw material, by pillar. For all high-risk raw materials, mitigation plans are created.
Mitigation actions include the recruitment of new suppliers, certification, and supplier engagement to better understand the situation.
We require all our raw material suppliers to sign our supplier code for confirmation, or to demonstrate commitment to our code by compliance with company policies that embrace these standards.
Our supplier code defines Corbion’s expectations in respect of our suppliers meeting our responsible sourcing commitment.
The code includes principles and criteria for business ethics, human rights and labor conditions, and environmental practices, based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the eight fundamental conventions defined by the ILO, including freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, the effective abolition of child labor, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
For cane sugar, we apply the Corbion cane sugar code, an extension of our supplier code with additional principles and criteria in respect of land rights, good agricultural practices, and biodiversity.
It is based on the definitions for sustainable sugarcane and derived products as set out by Bonsucro.
We have implemented procedures to verify that our suppliers meet these requirements, using self-assessment questionnaires and third-party audits. In case of non-compliance with core indicators of the cane sugar code, a corrective action plan is requested to effectively and promptly resolve the issue, within an agreed timeline.
If the issue persists, Corbion may ultimately decide to terminate the relationship with the supplier in question.
The audit frequency varies based on the findings of the initial audit and is annual in case of non-compliances with core indicators. By now, independent third-party audits have been conducted for over 70% of our cane sugar supply.
Non-compliances with core indicators were related to storage of chemicals, lack of formal risk assessment, and lack of evidence that the maximum levels of agrochemicals per ha/year are not surpassed.
We request our suppliers to focus on continuous improvement for any minor non-compliance. In 2019, some 16% of our total cane sugar consumption was Bonsucro certified.
Our palm oil policy describes our requirements for responsible sourcing of palm, including no deforestation, no peat, and no exploitation.
Corbion focuses on the implementation of the supply chain standard defined by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
All Corbion plants in the US are RSPO Chain of Custody certified and the majority of our palm oil and primary oleochemicals are now sourced Mass Balance (MB) RSPO-certified.
We source palm oil and palm oil derivatives only from suppliers that are RSPO members working toward production or purchasing of certified sustainable palm oil.
In 2019, we further increased our purchase of RSPO certified palm oil and primary oleochemicals and we are on track to meet our 2020 commitment.
Our agriculture policy summarizes our vision for sustainable agriculture, including topics such as energy and climate, water, soil health, land use, biodiversity, agricultural chemicals, and nutrient management.
We use self-assessment questionnaires to confirm that suppliers of corn, soy, and wheat meet Corbion’s responsible sourcing requirements specified in our supplier code and are implementing sustainable agriculture practices as described in our sustainable agriculture policy.
Corbion’s manufacturing processes pose inherent risks to people, due to use of chemicals, high temperatures, and large-scale equipment, which explains why occupational health and safety is our highest priority.
We use significant amounts of energy, water, and other resources, making resource efficiency and minimization of greenhouse gas emissions our main environmental focus areas.
- Environment, health, and safety
Corbion aims to create a safe and healthy workspace with the goal of having zero incidents because we believe no job is so important that it cannot be done safely and with minimal environmental impact.
We therefore operate with the greatest care for safety, health, and the environment for our employees and the communities we engage with.
Our activities are supported by a management system that includes policies, procedures, training, and feedback, which ascertain that we comply with laws and regulations applicable to our operations and act in accordance with our company standards and codes.
Corbion leadership and employees are committed to achieving a zero-incident culture.
Corbion fosters an open and transparent culture by encouraging all employees to report, amongst others, all near misses and events in order to continuously improve our safety and environmental performance.
Our Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) framework clarifies the specific responsibilities of the local sites versus the global EHS platform.
- EHS Platform
Despite our efforts we recorded 8 Lost Time Incidents (LTIs), which is the same absolute total as last year, but in relative terms slightly lower as we integrated Algae Ingredients in our reporting in the year under review.
The total number of recordables was 23.
Next to these, we reported and investigated three non-work-related incidents of which one fatality, 81 first-aid cases, more than 250 near misses, and over 5,000 unsafe observations.
The overall Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) was 0.83, which is slightly better than last year (0.86). In order to make a next step in safety and come closer to our zero-incident ambition, we shall perform a Safety Culture Assessment in 2020, executed by an external consultant.
To show clear EHS commitment from the top, within the Executive Committee a Safety Committee has been established which will meet quarterly and direct the EHS initiatives. The EHS platform leader is part of this committee.
At the end of 2017 Corbion defined the 10 Corbion Safety Rules, based on an analysis of our injuries and near misses, as well as incidents in other companies. We started the roll-out in 2018, implementing several rules, continued in 2019 and the implementation will run well into 2020.
Our employee absentee rate was 2.2% overall compared to 2.0% in 2018.
In 2019 we started our transformation from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001. Blair and Rayong obtained their ISO 45001 certification, the other sites will follow in 2020 and 2021. Our five lactic acid manufacturing sites are ISO 14001 certified, representing about 70% of Corbion’s production volume.
- Zero waste
In our lactic acid production process we generate significant quantities of valuable by-products, such as gypsum. Per metric ton of lactic acid, almost 2 tons of by-product are produced.
The majority of these by-products are valorized, but occasionally they do end up in landfill.
Our zero-waste ambition focuses on the reduction of waste by eliminating landfill of by-products by 2020 and eliminating landfill of all other general waste by 2030.
Since the implementation of a new valorization option for gypsum at our lactic acid plant in the US in 2017, we have reduced landfilling of by-products to only 1% of the total volume.
Compared to 2018, the landfilling of by-products increased to 4.6 kT due to the increased production of lactic acid at our plant in Spain. At this site, we have not yet been able to find an outlet for all by-products, due to legislative barriers and due to the increased quantities.
We do not expect to meet our ‘zero landfill’ target by 2020, because the lactic acid production at this site will further increase in the coming years until the start-up of our new lactic acid production plant in Thailand, while the regulatory approval for the preferred valorization route is taking longer than expected.
We are committed to achieving our zero landfill target and have engaged external support to address the situation in Spain.
- Greenhouse gas emissions and renewable electricity
Responsible operations also implies doing our part to prevent climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, as specified in the Paris Agreement.
In 2019, Corbion has committed to reducing our CO2 emissions related to energy, key raw materials, and transport by 33% per metric ton of product by 2030 from a 2016 base year. This target has been approved by the Science Based Target initiative.
To fulfill this pledge, we have developed a roadmap, including the following actions, some of which are already in motion:
- Transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
- Implement energy-saving projects at our manufacturing sites.
- Select the most energy-efficient technology available when equipment is replaced.
- Establish an R&D program to identify opportunities for heat integration, electrification, and recycling.
- Partner with key raw material suppliers to jointly reduce CO2 emissions.
- Review the financial impact of greenhouse gas emissions through internal carbon pricing in capital expenditure and long-term R&D projects.
Compared to the base year 2016, we already achieved an 12% reduction, mainly through the implementation of renewable electricity, which has step-wise increased since 2016.
Corbion aims to create a positive impact on people and planet by growing its business in sustainable ingredient solutions.
To achieve this, we need to understand the environmental and social impact of our solutions, we need to deliver on quality, and we need to ensure that our innovations are in line with our sustainability ambitions.
- Sustainability assessment of innovation projects
To ensure alignment of our innovation projects with our sustainability ambitions, we assess new product and process development projects against the relevant material themes in our sustainability strategy.
The assessment is integrated in our innovation stage-gate process and provides guidance to the project team on sustainability-related matters.
This warrants that sustainability is an integrated part of the product and process design and that potential issues can be tackled at an early stage.
The assessment is also used to identify sustainability benefits that can be included in the value proposition of the new product.
- Biobased raw materials
The majority of our finished goods are biobased, manufactured from renewable, agriculture-derived raw materials.
These products support the transition to a circular economy by offering an alternative for fossil-based resources, with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, toxicity, and waste generation.
For non-food applications, the use of agriculture-derived raw materials can potentially compete with food production.
For the current level of bioplastic production, land use is minimal and not competing with foodOver the next decades, world population will grow and global demand for crops for food and industrial applications is expected to increase.
The use of next-generation feedstocks such as second-generation sugars from agricultural residues can help address this concern.
- Life Cycle Assessment
Corbion uses Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) as a tool to understand the environmental impacts of a product from the extraction of resources to their use and end of life.
To enable our customers to make conscious choices, we will perform cradle-to-gate LCAs for 50% of our products by 2020.
Using this data, we can work side by side with customers to support them on the improvement of their environmental footprint and on the substantiation of their sustainability claims.
In 2019, we published an articleabout the life-cycle impact of poly lactic acid (PLA) produced from sugarcane in Thailand in the Journal of Polymers and the Environment and we increased the LCA coverage of our products to 44%.
- Product Social Metrics (PSM) assessment
To make a positive impact on people, we need to understand how our business activities have a social impact throughout our supply chain and how they affect our stakeholders.
In 2017 Corbion joined the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, and together with the other Roundtable members, we developed a methodology for measuring social impacts, which is available in the Roundtable’s handbook.
The handbook provides the framework, an overview of data collection tools, and a scoring approach to assess social impacts.
In 2019, we conducted our first case study to evaluate the social impacts in the value chain of Corbion’s meat safety and extended shelf-life solutions.
The assessment of this value chain confirmed that most topics examined were compliant with applicable standards or laws (neutral social impact), or score beyond compliance for both products (positive social impact) The absence of negative social impact in the supply chain strengthens the credibility of the positive social impact from product use.
We are committed to delivering high-quality solutions that safely meet our customer expectations and fulfill our customer promise through quality and manufacturing systems and processes.
On a local level we operate in compliance with local regulations and legislation, while ensuring certifications are in place to meet customer and industry-adopted standards and requirements, such as ISO 9001, GFSI (BRC, FSCC22000), GMP+, GMP Pharma, FDA Pharma, Halal, Kosher, non-GMO, Organic, and FSMA.
In addition we host customer audits predominantly from our international pharmaceutical customers and large food clients.
These, and our self-assessment audits performed by our global quality platform, ensure that we continue to improve our operational standards for quality and food safety.
In 2019, we maintained all certifications and our continued focus on customer complaint reduction led to a consolidation of the great reduction in complaints in 2018 and, on top of that, a further reduction, albeit a small one.
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