* JVs included
** percentages relative to Bekaert supplier spend
Bekaert operates 75 production plants (subsidiaries and joint ventures) in 25 different countries in EMEA, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. Together they consumed and processed more than 3 million tons of wire rod, the company’s main raw material. Bekaert has invested € 153 million in property, plant and equipment in its subsidiaries in 2021. Bekaert also invests in operational excellence programs as part of the group-wide Bekaert Manufacturing System that drives standardization, process and energy efficiency, product quality, digital modeling and monitoring, and waste prevention and reduction.
Steel wire rod is the main raw material used for the manufacturing of steel wire products. Bekaert purchases different grades of wire rod from steel mills from around the world and transforms them into steel wire products by using mechanical and heat treatment processes, as well as by applying unique coating technologies. Bekaert increasingly also develops and produces products based on other metals and synthetic materials. The products manufactured by Bekaert are shipped to industrial customers who further process our materials into half or end products; or to end customers, directly or via distribution channels.
Steel wire rod represents more than half of the total spend of purchases and is ordered from vendors from all over the world. The Purchasing function manages the supply process. 2021 was marked by significant supply chain disruptions caused by the impact of the pandemic and container shortages. Bekaert managed to secure the supply of raw materials thanks to the company’s global presence and close cooperation with suppliers around the world.
GRI 102-9, GRI 102-10
In sourcing raw materials and other supply needs, Bekaert sources locally (i.e., in the same region as where the materials are being processed) unless the sourcing options are inadequate in terms of quality, quantity or cost. In 2021, 92% of our purchases were sourced locally.
Bekaert purchases from different sources, in line with the product quality requirements and the sourcing options available. Bekaert has about 16 000 active suppliers (excluding suppliers in joint ventures) of which 56% are delivering into EMEA, 11% in Latin America, 8% in North America and 26% in Asia Pacific.
GRI 102-10, GRI 301-2, GRI 204-1
Bekaert recognizes the importance of responsible sourcing. In 2021, all suppliers covered by the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), signed the Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct (or delivered proof of following its principles) and 100% of our tin and tungsten suppliers completed the most recent Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT).
RMI is an initiative of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi) and that helps companies from a range of industries to address conflict mineral issues in their supply chain. All suppliers covered by the RMI have endorsed Bekaert’s Conflict Free Minerals policy and compliance plan.
Bekaert’s purchasing department continued its engagement with suppliers to enhance sustainability awareness and control upstream in the value chain. The Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct outlines environmental, labor and governance related requirements that suppliers must comply with. At the end of 2021, this supplier commitment represented 95% of our spend.
Bekaert engages suppliers in its sustainability agenda via EcoVadis. 58.5% of our 2021 purchase spend was with suppliers assessed via EcoVadis. 82 new suppliers were invited to participate in the EcoVadis sustainability assessment, compared with 18 in 2020. The platform provides visibility on the sustainability performance of our important suppliers and on the areas for improvement. The procurement team has analyzed the maturity and effectiveness of the current processes and has identified several opportunities to better embed sustainability in our supplier life cycle as of 2022.
All suppliers of critical materials and services are formally evaluated on a yearly basis, and corrective action plans are put in place when the minimum required levels have not been reached. These action plans are closely monitored to keep the focus on improvement high.
At Bekaert, we closely monitor the compliance of our activities with the EU REACH chemicals regulation, and we ask our suppliers to verify their REACH compliance in the supply process of raw materials.
We conducted 50 supplier audits in 2021 compared with 36 in 2020. Supplier audits are scheduled and prioritized based on quality assurance, changes to or expansions of critical supplier processes, and risk of not meeting applicable target criteria.
Concluding Key Supplier Agreements remains very important for the purchase of wire rod and other supply categories as they enable to build effective partnerships in which sustainability, supply chain integration and innovation are explicit building blocks. In 2021 we organized a new Virtual Supplier Campaign to reach all key wire rod suppliers.
To make tangible steps towards reaching Bekaert’s Scope 3 sustainability ambitions, a Virtual Supplier Campaign was held in 2021 with key wire rod suppliers. The purpose was to have an open dialogue about capabilities and objectives, as a basis to identify the suppliers that are best suited to co-drive sustainability and innovation. Selected partners have been invited to collaborate on projects which will propel us as sustainability leaders in the industry, together.
This campaign was launched as part of Bekaert’s ambitious science-based GHG reduction targets which are subject to the independent validation by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). One of the targets we have set ourselves is to reduce our Scope 3 emissions by -20% by 2030. Scope 3 emissions include upstream and downstream emissions outside our own organization.
Quality is essential for good customer relations. Our customers have a choice, and we strive to be their best choice. We support our customers by adding value to the products and solutions we provide. It is key to meet our customers’ quality expectations, both in terms of product specifications, service levels, and current and future development needs. It is the basis of creating customer value.
Bekaert’s Central Quality Assurance team has won the VCK Business Excellence Award 2021. VCK (Belgian Association for Quality) groups 200 organizations that believe in quality as a lever for growth, performance and sustainability. Each year, a professional jury awards the best quality project. Besides convincing the professional jury, Bekaert also won the popular vote and took the Audience Award.
Bekaert was recognized with the 2021 Best Quality Award from tire manufacturer Prinx Chengshan Holdings Co., Ltd. We are a long-term partner of Prinx Chengshan and are honored with the award that praises the high-quality product and excellent service of our steel cord supplies.
To improve the digital customer experience, we included new features in the MyBekaert Agri customer portal for agricultural customers and launched a similar customer portal for Energy & Utilities customers.
We aim to turn ideas into meaningful sustainable solutions that reduce the environmental footprint of our customers and end-markets. These include, among others:
Bekaert’s super-tensile and ultra-tensile (ST/UT) steel cord ranges for tire reinforcement allow tire makers to produce tires with a lower weight, thinner plies, and lower rolling resistance. This improves the battery life of electric vehicles and reduces the CO₂ emissions of conventional-fueled vehicles by up to 5%. Based on actual data, generally accepted conversion models, and test results, the annual CO₂ savings attributable to Bekaert ST/UT cords amount to at least 2.4 million tons kg.
Our steel and synthetic mooring ropes connect anchors on the seabed to floating wind turbines and eliminate the need for extensive foundations. Furthermore, Bezinox®, Bekaert’s new-generation cable armoring solution, is used in submarine power cables that transfer electricity from offshore wind farms ashore. This solution lowers the total cost of ownership by reducing energy losses and heat dissipation and by offering a predictable and reliable cable lifetime.
Our Dramix® steel fibers for concrete reinforcement use 50% less steel weight, compared to traditional steel solutions. This reduces CO₂ emissions of construction projects by 20 to 50%.
Bekaert's porous transport layer solutions increase the performance and durability of electrochemical devices used in hydrogen production.
More detailed information on Bekaert’s sustainable products and solutions is available in Part II of this Report: Environmental statements.