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Sustainability performance

Sustainability performance indicators

Preserving what matters

    

KPI

2030 Target1

2025 Target1

2021

2020

% of products2 contributing to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet3,4

> 80%

> 70%

60%

61%

% of innovation projects contributing to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet4,5

  

100%

100%

% of raw materials covered by generic supplier code6

> 90%

> 90%

100%

99%

% of raw material/supplier combinations with high sustainability risk7

< 10%

< 10%

11%

10%

% of high-risk raw materials/supplier combinations with mitigation plan7

> 90%

> 90%

99%

96%

Code of Business Conduct training completion rate

100%

100%

99% (1,781

100% (1,592)

Anti-corruption training completion rate (% and number)

100%

100%

100% (479)

n/a

Competition law training completion rate (% and number)

100%

100%

n/a

100% (476)

Number of Speak Up/whistleblowing contacts - internal / external

  

20/0

26/0

Number of Speak Up/whistleblowing contacts with merit – internal / external

  

12/0

16/0

Preserving food and food production

    

KPI

2030 Target1

2025 Target1

2021

2020

% of cane sugar verified responsibly sourced4,8

100%

100%

73%

66%

% of verified deforestation-free key agricultural raw materials4,9

100%

100%

82%

83%

% of products2 contributing to preserving food and food production3,4

-

-

30%

29% 16

% of innovation projects contributing to preserving food and food production4,5

-

-

62%

67%

% of Product Social Metrics10 coverage for products contributing to preserving food and food production3,4

100%

50%

34%

1%

Preserving health

    

KPI

2030 Target1

2025 Target1

2021

2020

Total Recordable Injury Rate4,11

< 0.25

< 0.5

0.66

0.84 16

% of sites certified according to internationally recognized food safety management system standards4,12

100%

100%

100%

100%

# of SIN list13 chemicals produced

0

0

0

0

# of EU REACH Candidate List chemicals produced

0

0

0

0

# of EU REACH Authorization List chemicals produced

0

0

0

0

% of products2 contributing to preserving health3,4

-

-

34%

33% 16

% of innovation projects contributing to preserving health4,5

-

-

77%

87%

% of Product Social Metrics10 coverage for products contributing to preserving health3,4

100%

50%

35%

1%

Preserving the planet

    

KPI

2030 Target1

2025 Target1

2021

2020

% biobased raw materials6

> 95%

> 95%

98%

98%

Renewable electricity √

100%

90%

79%

71%

Reduction of Scope I, II emissions14

-

-

40%

32% 17

Reduction of Scope I, II, III emissions (SBTi-approved target) 14

33%

20%

27%

20% 17

% recycled by-products6

100%

100%

97%

98%

Landfill of waste √

0

-

1.8 kT

1.8 kT

% of products2 contributing to preserving the planet3,4

-

-

49%

49% 16

% of innovation projects contributing to preserving the planet4,5

-

-

62%

73%

% of Life Cycle Assessment15 coverage for products contributing to preserving the planet3,4

100%

100%

86%

80%

  • 1 Targets based on current manufacturing footprint; to be reviewed in case of acquisitions / major changes.
  • 2 By revenue.
  • 3 Products for which there is evidence that the product contributes to the identified impact categories. See Sustainability statements for more details.
  • 4 Not included in review by external auditor in 2020
  • 5 Innovation projects targeting the development of products that contribute to the identified impact categories, by number of projects. Only adjacent and transformational innovations are included. Projects aimed at optimizing existing value propositions for existing customers are not included. See Sustainability statements for more details. The 2020 data have been restated, because we adjusted the definition of the denominator (in 2020 defined as expected revenues in 5 years).
  • 6 By quantity.
  • 7 By number, based on Corbion’s security-of-supply assessment methodology.
  • 8 Bonsucro-certified or meeting the requirements of Corbion’s cane sugar code verified by third-party audits, by quantity.
  • 9 Through Bonsucro certification, RSPO certification, or other certification covering deforestation; or demonstrated to be deforestation-free based on satellite data, third-party audits (e.g. Corbion cane sugar code audit), and/or country of origin statements, by quantity. Key agricultural raw materials include cane sugar, dextrose derived from corn, palm oil and derivatives, soy-bean oil and derivatives, and wheat, by quantity
  • 10 The Product Social Metrics assessment is done according to the methodology described in the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment, published by the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics and applies to products manufactured at Corbion sites (outsourcing is excluded). By quantity.
  • 11 Based on OSHA guidelines. Including contractors. In 2020 excluding our facility in Araucária (Granotec do Brazil) which was acquired in 2019.
  • 12 Applies to sites where food ingredients are produced, by number. Standards recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI): BRC, FSCC22000, SQF.
  • 13 The Substitute It Now (SIN) list is a list of hazardous chemicals that have been identified as being Substances of Very High Concern, based on the criteria defined within REACH, the EU chemicals legislation. The SIN list is developed by the non-profit organization ChemSec.
  • 14 We report our emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol per metric ton of product. Our Science Based Target includes Scope I emissions from direct production (from natural gas), Scope II emissions from purchased energy (electricity and purchased steam, market-based), and Scope III emissions related to key raw materials and transport. Our full Scope III emissions and biogenic emissions are reported in the Sustainability statements. Our 2030 target is approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Progress is reported against 2016 as base year.
  • 15 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is peer reviewed according to ISO 14040/44 standards for Corbion’s core products (such as lactic acid) or done according to the “LCA Approach for Corbion’s Product Portfolio: Lactic acid derivative plants, Corbion 2017,” which has been externally reviewed against and is considered to be in line with the principles of the ISO 14040/44 standards. Applies to products manufactured at Corbion sites (outsourcing is excluded). By quantity.
  • 16 Restated due to data quality improvements.
  • 17 Restated due to data quality improvements and updated scope. In line with the requirements of the Science Based Targets initiative, the scope is corrected for acquisitions and divestments.
  •  =  reviewed by external auditor

Preserving what matters

Corbion’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals

In preparation for our strategy update Advance 2025 we assessed our entire product portfolio and our value chain with a view to the potential – positive and negative – impact on the Sustainable Development Goals. From this assessment, we learned that SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), and SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production) are the goals where we can have the most significant positive impact given our business activities. These SDGs have been linked to the three preservation themes of the Advance 2025 strategy, namely preserving food and food production (SDG 2), preserving health (SDG 3), and preserving the planet (SDG 12). We also recognize that our operations can (potentially) harm some of the SDGs. This includes the potential impact of Corbion’s manufacturing processes and use of raw materials on occupational health and safety (SDG 3), greenhouse gas emissions (SDG 13), deforestation (SDG 15), food security and agricultural impacts (SDG 2), and waste (SDG 12). Corbion’s Advance 2025 strategy includes ambitious targets (see Sustainability performance indicators) to minimize these adverse impacts. Our purpose is to preserve what matters by maximizing our positive impact and by minimizing any negative effects. See our Measuring what matters white paper that describes the SDG assessment in detail.

To monitor our impact, we track the overall contribution to the SDGs as a percentage of Corbion’s total revenues. In 2021, 60% of Corbion’s net sales contributed to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet. To increase this percentage in the years to come, we also assess our innovation projects on their (potential) SDG contribution as part of the innovation stage-gate process. Projects that do not contribute to the SDGs are adjusted or potentially cancelled. At the end of 2021, 100% of our innovation projects contributed to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet .

Human rights and labor conditions

Corbion is committed to respecting and upholding human rights and labor standards. We act in accordance with internationally declared human rights and adhere to applicable laws within the framework of our business activities. Our policies integrate principles from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the key conventions of the International Labour Organization, the OECD guidelines, and we are a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.

Our Code of Business Conduct covers amongst others health and safety; inclusion, diversity, and equal employment opportunity; harassment; child and forced labor; working hours and compensation; and freedom of association. All Corbion employees are paid a living wage.

Corbion utilizes the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) platform and the SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) to monitor the social performance and compliance of its manufacturing sites. SMETA assesses each site on four pillars: labor, health and safety, environment, and business ethics. Audits are conducted by an external third-party auditor at least every three years. Findings are monitored by global and site coordinators and corrective actions are implemented in case of non-compliance with our standards.

Through our supplier code and our cane sugar code, we expect our suppliers to respect human rights in their operations. See the sections on Sustainable sourcing and Sustainable agriculture in this chapter for more information on these codes and the governance thereof.

To understand Corbion's impact on human rights in our own operations and our supply chain, we conduct Product Social Impact Assessments. See the section on Product Social Impact Assessment in this chapter for more information.

Sustainable sourcing

A significant part of our value chain’s environmental and social impact is upstream of our operations. To safeguard our sustainable solutions’ overall positive environmental and social impact, we need to ensure our raw materials are sourced responsibly. We require all of our raw material suppliers to sign our supplier code for confirmation or demonstrate commitment to our code by compliance with company policies that embrace the standards included in our code. Our supplier code defines Corbion’s expectations in respect of our suppliers meeting our responsible sourcing commitment. The code consists of principles and criteria for business ethics, human rights and labor conditions, and environmental practices, based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the eight fundamental conventions defined by the ILO, including freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, the effective abolition of child labor, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

We assess all of our raw materials and suppliers on potential risks related to sustainability in our security-of-supply assessment, which is updated annually. This risk assessment is based on RepRisk, a tool that systematically identifies material ESG risks by analyzing information from public sources and stakeholders. Next to this, specific risk elements such as the use of SIN-listed raw materials and potential conflict minerals are considered. The risk assessment results in a high, medium, or low score for each raw material/supplier combination. For all high-risk items, mitigation actions will be taken.

In our 2021 assessment, 11% of the raw material/supplier combinations were classified as high risk. For 99% of these, mitigation plans have been created. Mitigation actions include supplier engagement, additional traceability investigation, SEDEX registration, SMETA audits, or identification of alternative raw materials or suppliers. Through these actions, we aim to reduce the number of high-risk raw material/supplier combinations, however, we also realize that it is not feasible to eliminate these risks entirely. Therefore, we update the assessment and mitigation plans annually to ensure constant attention and preparedness for potential issues.

Business ethics

Corbion’s Business Conduct Program combines the legal requirements of the countries where we operate and international standards, resulting in a framework that regulates how all Corbion employees interact with colleagues, business partners, governments, and communities. We translate these legal requirements and standards into our Code of Business Conduct, internal policies, and procedures to make this information accessible to everyone. Often we go beyond what is required by local legislation to create a single global integrity approach within Corbion.

Every year, all Corbion employees need to follow a mandatory training on our Code of Business Conduct, which is available in six languages. Employees receive training through an online course or a classroom session. Course materials are updated yearly, based on the most relevant risks at the time of the release, and touching on the topics which were brought up in Speak Up reports in the previous year. Corbion has a strict policy on attendance to the Code of Business Conduct training, with a 99% completion rate in 2021. In addition, selected groups of employees must follow every two years mandatory e-learning trainings with respect to anti-corruption and competition law. In 2021, 479 employees (from the sales and procurement departments, and senior management) participated in the anti-corruption e-learning training, which had a 100% completion rate.

Under the Corbion Speak Up Policy, Corbion employees can report misconduct and (potential) violations of the Code of Business Conduct and underlying policies to their manager, their local HR contact, the regional Business Conduct Coordinator, or, anonymously, to the Corbion Speak Up Line. We also invite our external stakeholders (customers, suppliers, communities, distributors, and agents) to raise concerns about (suspected) violations of the Corbion Code of Business Conduct, Corbion’s Supplier Code, Corbion’s Cane Sugar Code, or any applicable laws through our External Speak Up platform. 

In 2021, 20 complaints with respect to the Code of Business Conduct were reported internally, of which 12 had merits. Appropriate measures have been taken by management. In 2021 Corbion has not received any reports via the external Speak Up channels.

See Risk management/Business conduct program for more details.

Advocacy and public affairs

We believe biotechnology and sustainable innovations can provide an essential contribution to the challenges the world is facing. Our purpose-driven public affairs efforts are aimed at showing regulators and policymakers that it is possible to do sustainable business while making healthy profits. Together with like-minded organizations we advocate for regulatory conditions that support sustainable frontrunners. 

Preserving food and food production

Preserving food and food production (SDG 2 Zero hunger) is about creating a sustainable food system capable of feeding a growing population, given the boundaries of our planet. Corbion’s solutions for shelf-life extension, food safety, animal health, and aquaculture support this ambition. We also collaborate with our agriculture-derived raw material suppliers to promote sustainable agriculture. In 2021, 30% of our revenues contributed to preserving food and food production.

Sustainable agriculture

A sustainable agricultural supply chain is crucial to our business as we rely on agriculture for our biobased raw materials. It is also vital to the communities in which we operate and to our planet’s resources. We recognize that intensive agriculture can have negative consequences for people and the environment. The agricultural sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, and farming of sugarcane and palm oil has been linked to forced and child labor issues. Sustainable agriculture, however, has the potential to protect the planet, enhance the economic viability of the agricultural sector, and support the livelihoods and well-being of farmers and the communities they work in. Our Sustainable Agriculture Policy describes our vision and fundamental principles, including respecting human rights, protecting biodiversity, eliminating deforestation, stewardship of the air, soil and water, and mitigating climate change.

Corbion is not directly involved with the growing, harvesting, and processing of the crops used to make our raw materials. We partner with our direct suppliers, conservation solution providers and engage with other stakeholders involved in our agricultural supply chains to promote our vision for sustainable agriculture. We also implement relevant certification schemes, including Bonsucro and RSPO. 

Sugar

Our Cane Sugar Code defines the specific requirements for producing sustainable cane sugar, based on the definitions for sustainable sugarcane and derived products as set out by Bonsucro. Globally, some 6% of the sugarcane growing areas are Bonscuro-certified, and for our main sourcing area, Thailand, this is just over 2%. We, therefore, audit our cane sugar suppliers against the Corbion Cane Sugar Code if they are not yet able to deliver Bonsucro-certified sugar. See our Cane Sugar Policy for more detail on our audit program. In 2021, we verified that 73% of our total cane sugar consumption meets the requirements of our code compared to 66% in 2020. This includes around 17% Bonsucro-certified sugar.

Palm oil

Our statement on Palm oil describes our requirements for responsible sourcing of palm oil, including no deforestation, no peat, and no exploitation. Since 2020, 100% of our palm oil and primary oleochemicals is RSPO certified. In 2021, we continued the implementation of RSPO for our secondary oleochemicals and achieved 90% RSPO certification for our total use of palm oil and derivatives.

Other key agricultural raw materials

To support our science-based target, we collaborate with several partners to implement regenerative agriculture practices within Corbion’s US corn and soybean supply sheds. Regenerative agriculture has the potential to improve soil health and store more carbon in the soil, which reduces GHG emissions. In addition, farms see improved profitability because better soil health creates better yields, and less is spent on chemicals and fuel. Improved land utilization frees up less-profitable acres for conservation. Improved nutrient utilization helps preserve and protect water quality. Reduced chemical use lowers health risks for farmers and consumers. Soils rich in organic matter are better able to manage moisture when faced with extreme events like floods and drought.

Together with Truterra, and local agricultural retailer Central Valley Ag (CVA), we work with farmers in Corbion’s soy sourcing region in the US to collect crop production insights, including learnings from Corbion-sponsored innovation trials. Leveraging the Truterra sustainability tool, farmers use this information to establish a sustainability baseline for each field, identify improvement opportunities, and model the impact of various conservation practices for specific portions of their land. The Truterra digital platform creates a framework for continuous improvements that helps protect natural resources while enhancing profitability for the farmer and creating a more sustainable supply chain. The Truterra tool will also be used to track, aggregate, and report on environmental impact over time, including greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient use efficiency, and soil health. In 2021, after conducting a baseline study, regenerative agricultural practices were chosen, and the first cycle of the innovation trials project was implemented. The trials compare plots under “business as usual” management with plots where enhanced nitrogen management practices, such as variable rate technology, are applied next to the use of cover crops in combination with integrated grazing. Data is being collected and the results for the first year will be reported following harvest and analysis.

We work with Cargill and Practical Farmers of Iowa on a soil health program targeting corn growers in the sourcing region surrounding Corbion’s manufacturing facility in Blair, US. The program focuses on adopting soil health practices, including no-till, planting of cover crops, and nutrient management. It aims to reduce GHG emissions, increase soil organic matter, increase farmer resilience, improve water quality, and leverage technical assistance and farmer-farmer networks to drive change. In 2021, around 1500 acres were enrolled in the program. In the first year, environmental outcomes included reduced CO2 emissions and soil erosion as well as reduced run-off and leaching of nitrogen and phosphorous.

Preserving health

Preserving health (SDG3 Good health and well-being) is about supporting healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. Corbion’s solutions for health care, pharma, nutrition, and hygiene contribute to some of the underlying targets defined for SDG3. We also care for the health and well-being of our own employees and supply chain partners. In 2021, 34% of our revenues contributed to preserving health.

Environment, health, and safety

Corbion aims to create a safe and healthy workspace with zero incidents because we believe no job is so important that it cannot be done safely and with minimal environmental impact. Therefore, we operate with the greatest care for safety, health, and the environment for our employees and the communities we engage with. Our activities are supported by a management system that includes policies, procedures, training, and feedback, which ascertain that we comply with laws and regulations applicable to our operations and act in line with our company standards and codes. Corbion management and employees are committed to achieving a zero-incident culture. Corbion fosters an open and transparent culture by encouraging all employees to report, amongst others, all near misses and events in order to improve our safety and environmental performance continuously. Our Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) framework clarifies the specific responsibilities of the local sites versus the global EHS platform.

In 2021, we recorded 23 recordable incidents across all regions. Our Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) for both Corbion and contractor employees was 0.66, a good step up compared to last year (0.84[1]). Similar to last year no fatalities occurred in 2021.

  • 1 restated due to data quality improvements

During 2021, Corbion has launched the Corbion Safety Excellence Program, and completed a safety leadership training program for Senior leadership, as well as starting a behavior-based safety project that will be implemented across all locations in the coming years. By the end of 2021, 8 manufacturing sites were ISO 45001, or OSHAS certified, representing about 77% of Corbion’s production volume and 5 sites were ISO 14001 certified, representing about 55% of Corbion’s production volume.

Our employee absentee rate was 2.7% overall compared to 2.4% in 2020.

Product quality and safety

We are committed to delivering high-quality solutions that safely meet our customer expectations and fulfill our customer promise through quality and manufacturing systems and processes.

On a local level we operate in compliance with local regulations and legislation, while ensuring certifications are in place to meet customer and industry-adopted standards and requirements, such as ISO 9001, GFSI (BRC, FSCC22000, SQF), GMP+, GMP Pharma (ICHQ7), Halal, Kosher, non-GMO, Organic, and FSMA. For our Sustainable Food Solutions, food safety is a key priority in terms of production quality, spoilage, contamination, supply chain traceability, and allergy labeling. All manufacturing sites that produce food ingredients (11 out of 12) are certified against a GFSI-recognized standard. Three of our manufacturing sites have a pharmaceutical registration. In addition, we host customer audits predominantly from our international pharmaceutical customers and large food clients. These, and our self-assessment audits performed by our global quality platform, ensure that we continue to improve our operational standards for quality and food safety. In 2021, we maintained all certifications and started harmonizing the quality management of the different Corbion sites by introducing a Global Quality Manual. This document underlines our drive for continuous quality improvement and food risk reduction.

Chemicals safety and stewardship

Chemicals safety and stewardship is a critical issue as the use of chemicals might potentially impact human health or the environment. Corbion’s biochemicals offer safer alternatives for chemicals of concern. To make our chemicals-safety performance more transparent and demonstrate the low-hazard profile of our portfolio, we use three chemicals-safety KPIs:

  • The number of chemicals produced on the REACH Authorization List of the EU. Substances on this list are selected from the REACH Candidate List. They cannot be launched on the market or used after a given date (“sunset date”), unless authorization for their specific use or exemption from authorization is granted.

  • The number of REACH Candidate List chemicals produced. The REACH Candidate List of the EU is the first step toward stringent regulation of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs).

  • The number of SIN list chemicals produced. The Substitute It Now (SIN list), developed by the non-profit organization ChemSec, lists very hazardous chemicals that may be placed on the REACH Candidate List.

None of Corbion’s products are included in any of the above lists. Our priority is to keep it this way, to meet our promise to preserve what matters, and to minimize risks related to regulatory measures, workers’ health, consumer exposure, and potential accidents and spills.

Next to this, Corbion does not produce or use in its production processes any of the substances listed below anywhere in the world:

  • Prior Informed Consent (PIC) substances based on Rotterdam Convention;

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) substances based on Stockholm Convention;

  • Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP) based on Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe list.

We apply strict cut-off criteria for developing new products (SVHC criteria) and adhere to the 12 principles of Green Chemistry. All Corbion products that are within the scope of REACH have been registered accordingly.

Preserving the planet

Preserving our planet (SDG12 Responsible production and consumption) is about moving toward a circular economy. Biobased ingredients and materials from Corbion play an essential role in promoting SDG12 and help to create a circular economy. SDG12 also includes food waste reduction as a sub-target, and we contribute to this goal as well through our work to create zero waste, improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and implement our new circular production technology in our manufacturing plants.

Biobased raw materials

In 2021, 98% of our raw materials were biobased, derived from renewable, agricultural sources such as sugarcane, corn, soy, wheat, and palm oil. The use of biobased raw materials instead of fossil-based resources to produce specialty chemicals supports the transition to a circular economy as biobased raw materials are renewable by nature, insofar as their production is sustainably managed. According to the Bioplastic feedstock alliance, a sustainable biobased feedstock is legally sourced, conforms to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), does not adversely impact food security, and does not result in deforestation. Corbion’s sustainable agriculture policy describes our key principles for the production of biobased raw materials. At the current level of bioplastic production, land use is minimal and does not compete with food. Over the following decades, the world population will grow, and global demand for crops for food and industrial applications is expected to increase. Next-generation feedstocks such as second-generation sugars from agricultural residues and C1 carbon sources can help address this concern, and Corbion is following this closely. Our R&D teams continue to work on new production processes that support the production of biochemicals and biobased plastics made from alternative feedstocks, including non-food crops, agricultural by-products and waste streams, CO, and other C1 feedstocks. Corbion actively engages with external parties who have the potential to supply second-generation feedstocks to Corbion assets. Through open collaboration with technology providers and sugar suppliers, and the provision of feed and off-take options, we aim to stimulate the development of commercial-scale supply chains of alternative generation sugar feedstocks in the coming decades. However, at the moment the scale is still small and technology readiness is low.

Forests and biodiversity

Humans depend on healthy ecosystems as these stabilize the climate, provide food, clean water and air, and raw materials, and protect coastlines. Deforestation and biodiversity loss are threatening earth’s capacity to maintain healthy ecosystems. Business activities can contribute to deforestation and biodiversity loss. As we source raw materials from sectors that are at risk of contributing to these issues we are committed to do as much as possible to limit our negative impacts and contribute to regenerative projects.

To provide more transparency on the risk of deforestation in our agriculture supply chains, we track the percentage of key agricultural raw materials purchased verified deforestation-free. About 50% of our key agricultural raw materials is sourced in North America, where deforestation is not an issue. According to the Agri-footprint database, which is based on FAO statistics, no land transformation from forest has occurred in the sourcing areas of Corbion’s dextrose, soy bean oil, and wheat suppliers in the US. For sugar and palm oil, the absence of deforestation is verified through audits, satellite studies, and Bonsucro or RSPO certification. Combined, we verified that at least 82% of our key-raw materials are deforestation-free globally.

To better understand the potential impact of Corbion’s business activities on biodiversity and to demonstrate our commitment to address these, we joined the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) corporate engagement program. Within this program, we work with other stakeholders to co-create methods and tools for integrated target setting, in line with the best available science.

Greenhouse gas emissions and renewable electricity

In 2019, Corbion committed to reducing its Scope I, II, and III GHG emissions by 33% per metric ton of product by 2030 with 2016 as the base year. The Science Based Targets initiative has approved this target. In 2021, we achieved a 27% reduction, a significant improvement compared to last year and overachieving our intermediate 2025 target ahead of plan. This reduction is primarily driven by the increased use of renewable electricity, the implementation of energy savings projects, and product mix effects. Overall, we are clearly on track to achieve our existing 2030 reduction target. We therefore committed to boost the ambition level of this target and to reach net zero GHG emissions in our value chain by no later than 2050. We will announce our updated 2030 target in the course of 2022.

One of the key initiatives to achieve our target is the transition to renewable electricity. By now, 9 of our 12 manufacturing sites are fully powered by renewable electricity. Compared to 2020, we included our site in Araucária, Brazil. In 2021, we also started the transition to renewable electricity in Thailand by sourcing some 25% of our total electricity consumption from several solar farms in the country. As a member of RE100, a global initiative to accelerate change toward zero-carbon grids at scale, we are committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity, and we have raised our ambition to already achieve this by 2025.

In 2021, we initiated the implementation of a major energy savings project at our facility in Blair, US. This project is part of the 40% capacity expansion announced in January of the year under review. Thanks to the investment in more efficient, sustainable technology, the 40% capacity expansion will come with no increase in the site’s total energy-related CO2 emissions. In fact, upon completion of the project, the cradle-to-gate carbon footprint per metric ton of lactic acid produced at the Blair plant will be reduced by 9%. Our capital expenditure plan for the next five years includes similar energy savings opportunities and the implementation of the new circular technology for lactic acid production in Rayong, Thailand. The circular technology will reduce cradle-to-gate CO2 emissions per metric ton of lactic acid by 19% compared to conventional technology.

We also established an R&D program to identify new technologies to implement in our manufacturing facilities, including electrification, low-carbon energy sources, and recycling. As part of this program, Corbion participates in various external research programs focused on developing low-carbon technologies. Examples include the Dutch hydrogen consortium’s work on reducing CO2 emissions from manufacturing processes and VoltaChem’s research on industrial electrification. The R&D program is managed by the Sustainability Council, led by the CSSO, which includes representatives from Operations, R&D, and Finance. The council is responsible for the management of the stage-gate process and priority setting. 

Partnerships with our key raw material suppliers are essential to achieve the targeted Scope III reductions. In 2021, we continued our engagement with key suppliers of cane sugar, dextrose, lime, and soybean oil. The goal is to better understand the footprints of these raw materials and identify GHG reduction opportunities. These reduction opportunities could be found within our suppliers’ manufacturing operations or captured by implementing sustainable agriculture practices on the farms our suppliers source from. The projects developed in collaboration with Cargill and Truterra (see Sustainable agriculture) resulted from these engagement activities. In addition to supplier engagement, another approach is to implement third-party sourcing certifications, such as Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification and Bonsucro, where GHG emissions are reduced by complying with the certification’s stringent environmental standards.

We use internal carbon pricing to manage and understand the financial impact of GHG emissions on our business. Corbion uses three scenarios with carbon prices of € 80, € 100, and € 150 per metric ton, respectively, by 2030.

Water

Water is an essential resource for people and vital for industry, agriculture, and energy production. Most of the water consumption in Corbion’s value chain is in agriculture (see Sustainable agriculture). In our manufacturing processes, fermentation is the most water-intensive step. A large part of the water used is recovered in the purification process and re-used or discharged for wastewater treatment. The net water consumption includes only water evaporation in the cooling towers and water in (by-)products.

In 2021, we updated the risk assessment for our manufacturing sites using Aqueduct. Aqueduct is a data platform run by the World Resources Institute, an environmental research organization. Aqueduct comprises tools that help companies, governments, and civil society understand and respond to water risks – such as water stress, variability from season to season, pollution, and water access. Based on the Aqueduct overall water risk assessment, none of the 12 Corbion sites is located in a high or extremely high water risk area. Regarding water stress, some 16% of our water withdrawals come from high-stress areas. Within the SBTN corporate engagement program, we will further investigate our impact on water to begin prioritizing locations for action. 

Waste

Corbion is committed to managing the waste generated in our operations in a responsible way. Our waste program focuses on 1) the valorization of by-products, 2) waste reduction, re-use, and recycling, and 3) innovation.

In our lactic acid production process, we generate significant quantities of valuable by-products, such as gypsum. Per metric ton of lactic acid, almost two tons of by-products are produced. The majority of these by-products are valorized, but occasionally they do end up in a landfill. Since implementing a new valorization option for gypsum at our lactic acid plant in the US in 2017, we have increased the recycling of by-products to 98-99%. For our site in Spain, there are legislative barriers that we need to overcome to achieve our target of 100% recycling. In 2021, the Spanish environmental authorities approved one new outlet, but this does not yet offer sufficient potential to fully eliminate the landfill of by-products in Spain. In 2022, at least two alternative valorization routes will be explored that have the potential to absorb the full by-product output.

Our new circular lactic acid manufacturing process eliminates both the need for lime as input material and the generation of gypsum as a by-product. Our new factory in Rayong, Thailand, that is currently under construction and will become operational in 2023 will utilize this process, expanding our production with as little impact on our footprint as currently technologically feasible.

Measuring what matters

Life Cycle Assessment

Corbion uses Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) as a tool to understand the environmental impact of a product from the extraction of resources to their use and end of life. To enable our customers to make conscious choices, we will conduct cradle-to-gate LCAs for all products that can contribute to preserving the planet by 2025. Using this data, we can work side-by-side with customers to help them improve their environmental footprint and substantiate their sustainability claims. 

In 2021, we performed LCAs for the lactic acid and derivatives produced at our facility in Campos, Brazil. With this additional study, we assessed 86% of our products that contribute to preserving the planet. Our LCA of AlgaPrime DHA was recently published in Algal Research.

Product Social Impact Assessment

Corbion is committed to performing a Product Social Impact Assessment for all products that contribute to preserving food and food production and/or preserving health by 2030. To positively impact people, we need to understand the social impact of business activities throughout our supply chain and how they affect our stakeholders. In 2017, Corbion joined the Partnership for Product Social Impact Assessment. Together with the other partners, we developed a methodology for measuring social impacts, available in the Roundtable’s handbook. The handbook provides a framework, an overview of data collection tools, and a scoring approach to assess social impacts. In 2021, we applied the methodology to our manufacturing facility in Blair, US. We assessed the impact of Corbion’s own operations and our supply chain on employees and local communities. For our preserving food and food production and/or health products, we also assessed the impact of our solutions on the end-user. In 2022, we will publish a white paper with more information on this assessment.

Sustainability assessment of innovation projects

To ensure the alignment of our innovation projects with our sustainability ambitions, we assess new product and process development projects against the relevant material themes in our sustainability strategy and on their potential contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals. The assessment is integrated into our innovation stage-gate process and guides the project team on sustainability-related matters. This warrants that sustainability is an integrated part of the product and process design and that potential issues can be tackled early. The assessment includes an evaluation of resource and energy efficiency, chemicals safety, and the project’s potential impact on Corbion’s GHG emissions. If a significant negative impact is identified, the project team has to mitigate this within the project. If this is not feasible, R&D is requested to investigate alternative options to reduce the impact elsewhere.

Sustainability assessment at different stages of the innovation funnel