At Bekaert, we believe it is our responsibility to create the possibility of a better tomorrow.
We want to contribute to making the world a better place for generations to come and to do this we are committed to becoming an industry leader in sustainability. With this in mind, we have established an ambitious plan that connects Bekaert to the most pressing challenges and presents a wide range of opportunities. This is what we call our ambition to become green beyond tomorrow.
In 2021 we fundamentally stepped up our ambitions, capabilities and plans to make substantial progress on our environmental targets. We established a ‘Sustainability Office’ within the Strategy Office. The Board of Directors approved the new Sustainability Strategy of Bekaert, and we have determined targets that are aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
“By committing to SBTi, we are taking bold steps, thinking beyond tomorrow and basing our initiatives on the latest science that will help create a sustainable future in the longer term”
Our ambition for the environment is in line with the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. We set a goal to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions¹ - the majority of which comes from gas used within our factories and from the electricity we purchase - by -46.2% by 2030 and to reach Carbon Net Zero by 2050.
In 2021, our application was accepted to join the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. This is an urgent call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies, business, and industry leaders to limit global warming. We have set ambitious science-based GHG reduction targets which are subject to the independent validation by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). By signing up and committing to targets in line with SBTi, we become part of the UN Climate Champions Race to Zero and aim to make a significant impact in the fight against climate change.
We have made a detailed mapping of all manufacturing activities, investments and applicable expenses of the Bekaert consolidated entities for the reporting year 2021 and have matched them with the activities described in the EU Taxonomy to analyze their eligibility, i.e., their potential to be environmentally sustainable. The outcome of this analysis is included in the detailed environmental statements in Part II of this report. The EU Taxonomy aims to channel capital towards sustainable activities, with the end-goal of financing sustainable growth and achieving the EU objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050.
⁴ More details of Bekaert’s 2021 environmental performance and targets are included in Part II: Environmental Statements of this report.
One enabler to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the use of renewable electricity, where available and possible. In total, 39% of the electricity we consumed came from renewable energy sources in 2021. Our success in sourcing renewable energy largely depends on availability and on being able to have sufficient proof of origin. In Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Romania, the Netherlands and the UK, most of Bekaert’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources.
When it comes to renewable power generation, our eyes are on solar and wind energy. We are looking at wind turbine investments and private or public investments for our plants to source energy from on-site solar panels.
We develop and implement standard solutions and initiatives that aim to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The Bekaert Manufacturing System (BMS), which is a longstanding transformation program focused on manufacturing excellence in general, focuses explicitly on energy and emission reduction measures. The largest part of Bekaert’s greenhouse gas emissions relate to ‘Scope 2’ emissions from purchased electricity. These Scope 2 emissions were about stable compared to 2019 but increased versus last year because of the rebound of our operations to pre-Covid activity levels. Scope 2 energy intensity reduced by -4% in 2021 compared to the reference base-year 2019. This was the result of improved machine efficiency and specific energy efficiency programs.
The total volume of wire rod we purchased and processed in 2021 contained 34% of recycled material¹, compared to 38% in 2020. The percentage of recycled material depends on the product specifications and the access to scrap-based wire rod. Today most of the steel used to produce wire rod is made via the primary route. This process is based on virgin iron ore that is used to produce pig iron in a blast furnace. Iron-ore based steel only uses a limited (typically ~18%) amount of steel scrap as coolant for the subsequent convertor process. Steel produced via the secondary route is usually made with much higher amounts of scrap mixed with iron-based pig iron, DRI (Direct Reduced Iron) and HBI (Hot Briquetted Iron).
¹ Excluding joint ventures.
Bekaert contributes to a circular economy by returning 100% of all steel scrap to the steel industry for recycling.
Given our ambition to reduce our carbon footprint and the importance that energy consumption will play going forward, as described earlier, the energy intensity approach within BMS is being elevated through a new program called “You Know Watt”.
Prevention is better than mitigation. Our prevention and risk management-related activities include, among others:
Recognizing the significant carbon footprint associated with producing our products and solutions, we recently launched a new global program, “You Know Watt”, to further reduce our energy consumption.
“You Know Watt” focuses on:
We believe in the ‘power’ of learning by doing. Therefore, we have designed several pilot energy implementation programs, each one following a structured process over a three-month period. We go from plant to plant to bring You Know Watt to the local teams, evaluating findings and implementing energy efficiency improvements.
We kicked this program off in our Izmit plant in Turkey in October 2021. The initial results are promising, with potential improvements in energy intensity in the range of 10-15%, which is in line with our expectations and ambitions. In addition, we identified several learning opportunities to improve the process, which were incorporated in the design of the next pilot which started in China in February 2022.
We aim to turn ideas into meaningful sustainable solutions that reduce the environmental footprint of our customers and end-markets. Read all about our products and solutions that contribute to a cleaner environment in the ‘Value Chain’ section in this Chapter and in Part II – Environmental Statements.