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Sustainability within the Business Strategy

Posted in: August 17, 2021

The world is going through a great deal of transformation, and by 2030, it is estimated that there will be more than eight billion people on the planet. As the population increases, so does the pressure on natural resources, resulting in a demand for society to change and recognize the importance of improved healthcare, education, and the reduction of social inequality. Many of the answers to society’s challenges involve chemistry, and with the use of chemistry, Oxiteno believes it is possible to balance social, environmental, and economic pillars, contributing to the wellbeing of consumers and our planet, by being a provider of innovative and sustainable solutions.

Oxiteno’s sustainability efforts were boosted in 2019, during which time Oxiteno reformulated and consolidated goals for the 2030 Strategic Sustainability Plan. This plan considers Oxiteno’s social and environmental role as a chemical company, as well as, the demands of its stakeholders, connecting the Sustainability Plan to the company’s purpose and defining a plan to address short-, medium-, and long-term challenges.

This plan is based on eight pillars that are critical to Oxiteno’s businesses throughout its production value chain and to its clients. One of these pillars is the Product Portfolio pillar. The goals for the Product Portfolio pillar were defined by each of Oxiteno’s market segments (Home and Personal Care, Performance Products, Paints and Coatings, Crop Solutions, Oil and Gas) and considers Oxiteno’s strategic business plan for each of these areas.  For example, Home & Personal Care identified three Key Enablers: reducing environmental impacts; the efficient use of resources, and the use of natural feedstock. In the following posts, you will learn more about H&PC’s Sustainable Key Enablers.

To continue to become more sustainable, Oxiteno also believes it must evaluate its portfolio and address any obstacles in the way of reaching the sustainability goal.  The company is engaged in ongoing portfolio assessment, based on the World Business Council for Sustainability framework, to mitigate impacts, improve production, and take the next steps on the innovation roadmap. These Key Enablers and Portfolio Assessment are the foundation of a new and better sustainable solution for the Home & Personal Care industry. For Oxiteno, becoming more sustainable is vital to continually improve our business and provide a social legacy for the world.

Reducing environmental impacts

The first enabler is Reducing Environmental Impacts. When we talk about developing solutions with less of an environmental impact, Oxiteno works on different fronts: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool used to understand the impacts caused by all the production phases, from extraction to application; the adoption of readily biodegradable products – with 57% of the HPC portfolio already incorporating this premise – and it also reinforces our positions as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which promotes sustainable palm oil production by all of our 11 certified plants.

  • LCA: consumers have become more mindful and demand environmentally friendly products. In response, a lot of companies are embracing environmental management methods. It is essential these days to assess resources, sustainability, and environmental stress in the application of chemicals. A key strategy is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), is to calculate how much impact the manufacture, use, and disposal of a product is having on resources and the environment. Attention and an open mind are required in LCA because sustainability management is complex and full of surprises. A product based on renewable resources and which in the beginning of development seems to be environmentally friendly, may get a lower score than one based on a non-renewable resource, such as petroleum.

Also, using plant-based sources as building blocks for surfactants and specialty chemicals helps reduce CO2 emissions. Plants capture CO2, then when these plants are used in the production of chemicals, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. No overall change occurs –  a molecule of CO2 is captured from the environment and gets released back into the atmosphere. This is one of the reasons green resources are a key factor in sustainable chemistry.

  • Biodegradability: a very important issue for “down the drain” products, which can affect the aquatic environment. Biodegradation is the breaking up of a molecule by the metabolic activity of microorganisms. For surfactants the process involves two steps: primary and ultimate biodegradation. In primary biodegradation, the breaking up of a molecule is progressive until the point where the molecule loses its surfactant properties. In the ultimate biodegradation step, transformation occurs where the surfactant molecule has been converted to CO2, CH4, mineral salts, biomass, and water.

Biodegradable raw materials are fundamental for the development and production of environmentally safe detergents and cosmetics that comply with local and global regulations. Through its Environmental Directorate, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) took the lead in establishing standard methods for biodegradability assessment, which are now accepted internationally. The methods are OECD 301, OECD 302 and OECD 310.

  • RSPO: The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was founded in 2004 to encourage sustainable oil palm products by means of global guidelines and multi-stakeholder management. The RSPO implemented a set of environmental and social standards which companies must adhere to, to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). These standards help minimize the negative consequences of palm oil farming on the environment and population in palm oil-producing regions.
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