Q&A – sustainability issues for Elkem

Elkem is a global company with an integrated value chain from quartz mines to silicones production. This means that we handle a wide range of sustainability issues every day, from sustainable sourcing of raw materials to product safety disclosures.

In our sustainability reporting, we have chosen a set of material topics according to the guidelines of GRI (Global Reporting Initiative). You can find the analysis and materiality topics table here.

However, there are many issues that are not covered in the sustainability report that are of concern to us and our stakeholders. We have put together some key issues here, that are not specifically mentioned in our reporting today, but still is something we work on to continuously improve on.

What makes our business model sustainable?

Our mission is “To contribute to a sustainable future by providing advanced silicon, silicones and carbon solutions, adding value to our stakeholders globally”. We want to take a pro-active position and participating in solving the great challenges that the world is facing. We do this by:

  • Contribute to solve the climate change challenge by providing products to the renewable energy industry, such as solar panel cells, wind mills and battery storage.
  • Develop new and/or improved products that directly or indirectly contributes to reduction in emissions, like components in EVs, construction and infrastructure.
  • Offer new raw material solution as part of a circular economy mindset.
  • Spread the knowledge of low carbon technology and solutions.
  • Have access to the best qualified and competent employees. 

How do we secure a sustainable access to raw materials?

Elkem is a fully-integrated producer with operations throughout the silicon value chain from quartz to silicon and downstream silicone specialities as well as speciality ferrosilicon alloys and carbon materials. Our main raw materials are quartz, carbon – either fossil coal or biocarbon and power. The main provider of power to our plants is hydropower (more than 75 % globally).

The Elkem silicon value chain:

For more information about the process of converting raw materials into our products, see here. 

Using CO2 neutral biocarbon instead of fossil carbon in the production of silicon and ferrosilicon is a key part in Elkem’s sustainable production strategy. The only acceptable way to secure biocarbon for our processes is to focus on a high ethical and environmental standard from our suppliers. For more information about this, see our sustainability report (LINK). Elkem’s ambition is that 20% of the company’s consumption of carbon as a reduction agent in the smelter process in Norwegian plants shall be biocarbon by 2021. In 2018 we reached 19%. Our 2030 goal is to increase this share to 40% for Norwegian smelters. Our ferrosilicon plant in Paraguay already runs on 100% biocarbon, showing that this is absolutely possible.

For more information about our biocarbon project see here.

How do we work on sustainability issues regarding silicones and chemical?

Elkem Silicones have been a part of Elkem since 2015 (previous to that it was Bluestar Silicones). Now, 50% of our revenue comes from our upstream activities. More information about Elkem Silicones and silicones products can be found at www.silicones.elkem.com

There are no restrictions on the use of silicone polymers, anywhere in the world. Numerous regulations in the EU and its member countries as well as international conventions ensure that chemicals and the products they are used in, are safe for consumers and workers.

REACH is the EU’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, adopted in 2006. When it entered into force in June 2007, REACH replaced more than 40 earlier pieces of legislation and introduced some of the most important changes to the EU’s management of chemicals in 30 years. As a “CES - Silicones Europe” member, Elkem has, together with other members, contracted ReachCentrum SPRL, a REACH services provider, to manage the consortium “Reconsile” and implement a REACH compliance strategy for the silicone industry in Europe. “Reconsile” members successfully registered all relevant silicone substances before the 2018 registration deadline. For more information on regulations in Europe see CES – Silicones Europe website.

Our products comply with international standards and internationally compliant safety data sheets can be found for all products commercialised: https://silicones.elkem.com/EN/our-offer/products

For more information on international regulations, please visit the Global Silicones Council’s website.

Here are some key issues specific to the Silicones division:

Product and substance testing and monitoring

Elkem as a chemical manufacturer operating on all continents must comply with applicable chemical regulatory requirements in the countries where we manufacture or sell chemicals.  As such we have relevant monitoring standards. We have ISO quality certification to 9001, we adhere and commit the "Responsible Care" program which ensures that chemical actors have sustainable actions and goals.

Strategy to reduce and substitute substance of concern

Regulatory requirements are strictly adhered to and products of concern identified are consequently reviewed and we constantly seek to proactively develop new and alternative solutions to such products. 

One example is MEKO-free oxime bonding and sealing products.

The issue of D4/D5

Read more about D4/D5 here

Animal testing

Extensive scientific information is requested under the REACH regulation to ensure legal chemical safety compliance, this leads to mandatory animal testing. Elkem makes every effort to limit animal testing to required and mandatory tests requested by authorities.

We develop, whenever possible, the use of recognized alternative methods like in-vitro testing and grouping strategies allowing read-across to other substances with similar properties or chemical structures. Elkem is actively working within several industry consortia concerning REACH to exchange scientific information and improve best practices within the industry.

Disclosure of substances produced that are covered by relevant international conventions and regulations

We comply with all regulations and are legally obliged to create and supply internationally compliant Product Safety data Sheets which are available on our website through the Product Finder.

For additional information about silicones, it’s benefits and opportunities, please see www.silicones.elkem.com.

Lobbying positions:

Transparency on participation in public policy making and lobbying activities:

 

Environmental impact of products and services: