Possibilities and challenges inherent in moving towards a more sustainable world is part of Elkem’s company risk assessments, divided into relevant areas such as market risk, EHS risk, CSR risk and financial risk.
Global megatrends affect our business strategy and drive Elkem’s growth, requiring that we specialise our operations and focus our products and solutions on future needs. Six megatrends have been identified as strategically important to Elkem, driving the demand for our products: Sustainability, energy demand growth, rapid urbanisation, increased standard of living, ageing and growing population, and digitalisation.
SUSTAINABILITY IMPACT OF ELKEM’S PRODUCTS
For many years, Elkem has been in close dialogue with several customers when it comes to sustainability. Through initiatives like the sustainability rating company EcoVadis’ CSR rating, we have been able to track our performance on sustainability and expectations from our customers. 2019 has been a milestone in many other ways, as our customers have notably increased their demands for information on the actual environmental impact of our products.
Elkem supports this development and works closely with customers on product life cycle analysis (LCA). We work continuously to improve the environmental footprint of our products; footprints from both CO₂ and other emissions such as NOₓ, SO₂, dust and PAH. For more information on these topics, please visit the page on energy and environment.
Elkem is also focusing on improving calculation and tracking of emissions. Elkem has a zero-harm vision and strives to be able to offer customers sustainable solutions. Preparing our product portfolio today will give us a competitive advantage going forward, as we expect to see an increased demand for LCA information and environmentally friendly products.
Most of Elkem's CO₂ emissions occur in the silicon and ferrosilicon processes. Our products, however, are mainly based on electricity from hydropower and are therefore characterised by lower environmental footprints than many competitor products. On average, our silicon has one third of the world average emissions calculation, which is 12 kilogram CO₂ per kilogram produced of silicon.
Also, when calculating cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions of silicones, the production of silicon materials is the most relevant contribution, as it accounts for 66% of total emissions for silicones products.
The regional origin of silicon materials therefore plays a significant factor for the CO₂ emissions of silicone, because of the variation of electricity production in the different regions. Here, Elkem’s electricity mix will be a green comparative advantage when calculating LCAs.
Elkem provides products to the automotive industry. The big automotive companies have strategies to evaluate and integrate LCA in their development processes of cars, which impacts our deliveries. Elkem Silicon Materials is working on evaluating and improving the CO₂ footprint of our products and will continue to be an environmentally friendly provider of products to the automotive industry in the future.
There are CO₂ emission abatement effects from the use of silicone products, reducing the end-life effect of silicones versus competing materials. Silicone products enable more efficient transport, contribute to lighter vehicles, reduce the need for heating energy and electricity consumption and help increase efficiency. The features of silicones contribute to extend material lifetime, ensure more efficient use of materials, and can also replace oil-based plastic products, lowering the carbon footprint in material production and recovery. A study published by CES (Silicones Europe) in 2018 showed that the largest net-benefit of using silicones was found in automotive, construction and solar energy applications, and that compared to alternatives it is estimated that a net 48 kilogram of CO₂ equivalents abatement per kilogram of silicones applied.