Preserving what matters
Net sales contributing to the SDGs (SDG 2, 3, 12, 13,14)2 √
Innovation projects contributing to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet3 √
Raw materials covered by generic supplier code4 √
Raw material/supplier combinations with high sustainability risk5 √
High-risk raw material/supplier combinations with mitigation plan5 √
Code of Business Conduct training completion rate
Anti-corruption training completion rate (% and number)
Competition law training completion rate (% and number)
Number of Speak Up/whistleblowing contacts - internal / external
Number of Speak Up/whistleblowing contacts with merit - internal / external
Preserving food and food production
Verified responsibly sourced cane sugar6 √
Verified deforestation-free key agricultural raw materials7 √
Net sales contributing to preserving food and food production (SDG 2) 2 √
Social Value Assessment coverage for products contributing to preserving food and food production (SDG 2)8 √
Total Recordable Injury Rate9 √
Sites certified according to internationally recognized food safety management system standards10 √
SIN list11 chemicals produced
EU REACH Candidate List chemicals produced
EU REACH Authorization List chemicals produced
Net sales contributing to preserving health (SDG 3)2 √
Social Value Assessment coverage for products contributing to preserving health (SDG 3)8 √
Preserving the planet
Biobased raw materials12 √
Renewable electricity √
Scope I, II emissions reduction13 √
Scope I, II, III emissions reduction (SBTi-approved target) 13 √
Recycling of by-products4 √
Landfill of waste √
Net sales contributing to preserving the planet (SDG 12, 13, 14)2 √
Life Cycle Assessment15 coverage for products contributing to preserving the planet3,4 √
- 1 Targets based on current manufacturing footprint; to be reviewed in case of acquisitions/major changes.
- 2 Net sales of products for which there is evidence that the product contributes to the SDGs. See our Measuring what matters whitepaper for more details.
- 3 Innovation projects targeting the development of products that contribute to the SDGs, 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 our Measuring what matters whitepaper for more details.
- 4 By quantity.
- 5 By number, based on Corbion’s supplier sustainability risk assessment methodology. Not included in review by external auditor in 2021.
- 6 Bonsucro-certified or meeting the requirements of Corbion’s cane sugar code verified by third-party audits, by quantity. See our Cane Sugar Policy for more information.
- 7 Key agricultural raw materials include cane sugar, dextrose derived from corn, palm oil and derivatives, soy-bean oil and derivatives, and wheat, by quantity. 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.
- 8 The Social Value 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 for which there is evidence that the product contributes to the specified SDGs. Outsourcing is excluded. By quantity. See our Measuring what matters whitepaper for more details.
- 9 Based on OSHA guidelines. Including contractors.
- 10 Applies to sites where food ingredients are produced, by number. Standards recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI): BRC, FSCC22000, SQF.
- 11 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.
- 12 Based on biobased carbon content relative to the total amount of carbon in the raw material, by quantity, excluding inorganic raw materials.
- 13 We report our emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol per metric ton of product. This KPI refers to our 2019 Science Based Target which was aligned with 2°C. We have recently increased the ambition level of our target and will report on this starting next year. This KPI 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. Progress is reported against 2016 as the base year. Our full Scope III emissions and biogenic emissions are reported in the Sustainability statements.
- 14 The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is peer reviewed according to the 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. This KPI applies to products manufactured at Corbion sites for which there is evidence that the product contributes to the specified SDGs. Outsourcing is excluded. By quantity. See our Measuring what matters whitepaper for more details.
√ = reviewed by external auditor. Some of the new KPIs that were included in our 2021 report for the first time have not yet been reviewed by the external auditor. We are preparing for assurance on all strategic KPIs.
Corbion’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals
Corbion has chosen to focus on SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), and SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production) as the goals on which we believe we can make 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 whitepaper to learn more about our SDG impact.
To monitor our impact, we track the overall contribution to the SDGs as a percentage of Corbion’s total revenues. In 2022, 65% of Corbion’s net sales contributed to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet, an increase of 5% compared to 2021. This increase is mainly driven by increased sales of omega-3 DHA. We aim to further increase this percentage to 75% by 2025, through divestment of non-SDG contributing activities, growth in food preservation, PLA bioplastics, and omega-3 DHA, and by innovating new SDG contributing solutions. All innovation projects are expected to contribute to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet, which is managed by a sustainability assessment as part of the innovation stage-gate process. Projects that do not contribute to the SDGs are adjusted or cancelled. At the end of 2022, 100% of our innovation projects contributed to preserving food and food production, health, and/or the planet.
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. We have implemented procedures to ensure the alignment with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including the principles and rights set out in the key conventions of the International Labour Organisation and the International Bill of Human Rights, 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.
Collective bargaining agreements
# of employees
% of workforce
Total employees with agreements
To ensure frequent employee-management interactions and responsible labor practices, we have joint management-worker health & safety committees in place at all production sites with formally elected employee representatives. In Thailand, the Election Welfare Committee has a formal quarterly meeting with employer representation by labor law to jointly review the welfare and working conditions. The members of the Election Welfare Committee are all employee representatives.
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 Responsible 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 Social Value Assessments. See the section on Social Value Assessment in this chapter for more information.
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. Our supplier code defines Corbion’s expectations in respect of our suppliers meeting our responsible sourcing commitment. The code covers 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 require all of our raw material suppliers to sign our Supplier Code to confirm adherence or demonstrate commitment to our code through their own company policies that embrace the standards included in our code.
We assess all of our raw materials and suppliers on potential risks related to human rights and environmental impacts. 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. The risk assessment is updated annually and also conducted for new raw materials or new suppliers.
In our 2022 assessment, 4% of the raw material/supplier combinations were classified as high risk, a reduction compared to 2021. This reduction is primarily the result of lower risks scores in RepRisk, in addition to our own mitigation actions. For 100% of the high-risk raw material/supplier combinations, mitigation plans have been drawn up. 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, although 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.
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 follow mandatory training on our Code of Business Conduct, which is available in six languages. Employees receive training through an e-learning 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. In 2022, we extended the target group of employees for this training to include all interns and contingent workers. Corbion has a strict policy on attendance to the Code of Business Conduct training, with a 94% completion rate in 2022. Due to the increased target group for the training, the completion rate is reduced compared to 2021. In addition, selected groups of employees follow mandatory e-learning training every two years with respect to anti-corruption and competition law. In 2022, 467 employees (from the sales, procurement, logistics, and legal & compliance departments, as well as middle and senior management) participated in the competition law e-learning training, which had a 100% completion rate.
Under the Corbion Speak Up Policy, Corbion employees can report misconduct and (potential) violations of laws, the Corbion Code of Business Conduct, and underlying policies to their manager, their local HR contact, the regional Business Conduct Coordinator, or, anonymously to the Corbion Business Conduct Committee through the Corbion Speak Up platforms (phone and web). 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 2022, 25 complaints with respect to the Code of Business Conduct were reported internally, of which 14 had merits. Appropriate measures have been taken by management. In 2022, Corbion received one report via the external Speak Up platform with merit.
See Risk management/Business conduct program for more details.
At Corbion, we consider all our people as talent we want to retain and develop, to unleash their potential and create a highly engaged and performing organization.
2022 has been a challenging year from a people perspective, with extremely competitive external market conditions and the looming “Great Resignation.” Our turnover rates have gone up from 11.1% in 2021 to 13.2%. Despite this increase however, Corbion has a healthy retention rate and was able to hire and onboard an additional 432 new employees in 2022.
In 2022, we introduced a dedicated role, Head of Talent Management and Organizational Development, focused on the design and execution of an integrated strategy for the management and development of our talent (our people). We strengthened our talent review and succession planning processes with particular attention to the calibration of performance and potential. Our performance management cycle encourages managers to discuss objectives and give regular and timely feedback on performance to their teams (on the “what” and the “how”). This too, contributes to the continuous development and growth of our talent.
We continued the work we initiated during the pandemic on employee well-being, by reinforcing Corbion’s values of Care, Commitment, Collaboration, and Courage through the quarterly Values Showcase program and our engagement initiatives.
Throughout 2022, the global Hybrid Working framework we designed in 2021 continued to be rolled out and applied across the globe, tailored to the specific needs of our various locations but in alignment with our global principles of compliance with local regulations, flexibility, and sense of belonging.
Training is an important part of employee development and like every year, we continued to offer different training programs (e.g. functional, technical, and safety), some virtual and some could be done in person again after two years of COVID restrictions. In 2022, 26 operators from Rayong, Thailand spent three months at Corbion’s SWIFT pilot plant in Gorinchem, the Netherlands to learn about our gypsum-free technology. This new circular lactic acid manufacturing process will be used in new factory in Rayong, which is currently under construction and will be completed by the end of 2023.
At Corbion, we strongly believe in the power of diverse teams to drive innovation and growth, and we apply this throughout our employee life cycle. We strive to attract talent based on diverse competencies, backgrounds, and origins, to ensure that the diversity of our people reflects the societies in which we live and work. We promote internal consideration of the diversity of our teams.
We are continuously working on becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization and raising awareness around all the ways in which we are diverse already. We do that through leadership, more refined employee data, recruitment, and talent management. In 2022, we created a roadmap for a more comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda, that will involve talent from across the organization to help us shape the next chapter of our DEI story.
Our values – Care, Commitment, Collaboration, Courage – along with the key Corbion behaviors – set clear direction, make the difference, focus on customers, and deliver through teamwork – are now fully embedded in our programs and processes. They form the foundation of the Corbion culture.
To measure the health of our company culture, we run Engagement Surveys every 1.5 years. In March 2022, we ran our Corbion Engagement Survey – the previous edition was in 2020. The participation rate of 94% shows how much importance our people attach to speaking their mind and being heard. The 2022 Corbion engagement score rose to 79% from 76% in 2020 despite a pandemic. We are very proud of this high engagement and continuously looking into those areas that require attention and improvement. The introduction of “Stay Interviews” focuses primarily on our joiners with less than two years' experience with Corbion to gauge the robustness of our onboarding and integration processes.
Listening to our employees and their needs is a critical process to sustain our high engagement levels.
Advocacy and public affairs
We believe biotechnology and sustainable innovations can provide an essential contribution in tackling 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.
In the past year, Corbion has been actively involved in several public affairs dossiers, demonstrating a strong commitment to sustainability and responsible corporate citizenship. These dossiers include the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, Delegated Acts for Sustainable Finance Taxonomy for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, Carbon Removal Certification, Framework on Biobased Biodegradable Compostable Plastics, the Algae Initiative, and Sustainable Food Systems. Through its engagement with policymakers and contribution of feedback during consultations, Corbion has demonstrated its dedication to promoting sustainable business practices that align with the European Union's values and objectives. Corbion’s input on these dossiers is publicly available on the European Commission's website. Corbion's involvement in these critical dossiers underscores its commitment to sustainable business practices and its desire to make a positive impact on the environment and society.
Because of this, Corbion is increasingly recognized as the voice of sustainable frontrunners in Brussels. With regard to the chemicals industry, for example, this has resulted in obtaining a permanent seat at the High-Level Roundtable on the implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability – the steering committee for the roll-out of new EU chemical legislation.
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 2022, 32% of our revenues contributed to preserving food and food production.
A sustainable agricultural supply chain is of material importance 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 an adverse impact on people and the environment. The agricultural sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, and farming of sugarcane, palm oil, and soybean 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.
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, RSPO, and ProTerra. 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.
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 Bonsucro-certified, and for our main sourcing area, Thailand, this is just over 2%. Consequently, we audit our cane sugar suppliers against the Corbion Cane Sugar Code if they are not yet able to supply Bonsucro-certified sugar. See our Cane Sugar Policy for more detail on our audit program. In 2022, we verified that 91% of our total cane sugar consumption met the requirements of our code compared to 73% in 2021. This includes around 21% Bonsucro-certified sugar.
Our Palm Oil Policy 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 have been RSPO-certified. In 2022, we continued the implementation of RSPO for our secondary oleochemicals and achieved 90% RSPO certification for our total use of palm oil and derivatives.
Our Soy Policy describes our requirements for responsible sourcing of soybean oil. We source the majority of our soybean oil from US suppliers. Soy production in the US is based on a national system of sustainability and conservation laws and regulations combined with careful implementation of best production practices by the nation’s 303,191 soybean farms. The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol is an aggregate approach audited by third parties that verifies sustainable soy production at a national scale. Over 95% of US soybean producers participate in the FSA Farm Program. In 2022, we started sourcing soybean oil in South America, where we apply the ProTerra certification to meet our responsible sourcing commitments.
To support our science-based target, we collaborate with several partners to implement regenerative agriculture practices within Corbion’s US corn supply sheds.
Corbion is among a number of companies signed up to promote long-term soil health through a Cargill program that works with corn growers near our Blair, Nebraska, plant to implement sustainable farming practices. These practices help increase resilience to climate change and improve farmer economics/yields, in part through the use of cover crops. The corn dextrose from these fields serves as a major raw material input for Corbion, which funded 10% of the cost of the cover crop program. The program, established by Cargill through a partnership with the Practical Farmers of Iowa, comprises three key elements: cost-sharing for growers who implement cover crops, a technical and peer support network, and monitoring and evaluation of outcomes and progress toward supply chain sustainability goals. By encouraging farmers to adopt better soil health practices, including no till, planting of cover crops, and nutrient management, the collaboration is designed 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.
Assessment of the 2021 crop year data showed that cover crops planted in the program resulted in a 39% reduction in metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions compared to if no cover crops were planted and sequestration was included. Acreage under the program has seen a potential 17% reduction in the emission factor thanks to the use of cover crops, which also improved water quality by 33%.
Preserving health (SDG 3 Good health) is about supporting healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. Corbion’s solutions for implantable technologies (such as orthopedic implants and drug delivery systems), pharma (such as parenteral and dialysis solutions), nutrition, and hygiene contribute to some of the underlying targets defined for SDG 3. We also care for the health and well-being of our own employees and supply chain partners. In 2022, 37% of our revenues contributed to preserving health.
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 ascertains 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 2022, we recorded 37 recordable incidents across all regions. As in previous years, no fatalities occurred in 2022. Our Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) for both Corbion and contractor employees was 0.68, consolidating the reduction achieved in 2021, but above the target we had set ourselves. In response to the concerning injury trend that appeared during the third quarter of 2022, we conducted leadership discussions and we accelerated the roll-out of our Behavior-Based Safety program at three selected locations.
During 2022, Corbion continued on its safety excellence journey. Behavior-based safety initiatives are running at five locations, focusing on site leadership capabilities and routines, and employee involvement in driving risk reduction, through safety observations and participation in incident investigation. Over the coming years, we are going to expand our global EHS management system, that will provide standardization and clarity regarding minimum EHS requirements across all our locations. Process Safety Management at Corbion sees increased focus and capability, as shown by the introduction of a process safety incident classification system, process safety management workshops for leaders and training for experts, root cause analysis training, and the development of process-safety-related standards.
All workers at Corbion’s manufacturing sites are covered by an occupational health and safety system, with the majority covered and verified through the ISO 45001 certification (10 sites, representing about 90% of Corbion ‘s production volume). Non-certified locations (Orindiúva, Grandview, and Querétaro) follow Corbion's system requirements such as the global EHS standards and Corbion’s 10 Safety Rules, and they are integrated in all of our EHS processes. Five sites were ISO 14001-certified, representing about 79% of Corbion’s production volume.
Overall, our employee absentee rate was 2.6% compared to 2.7% in 2021.
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, FSCC 22000, 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 Corbion manufacturing sites that produce food ingredients (11 out of 12*) are certified against a GFSI-recognized standard. Two of our manufacturing sites have a pharmaceutical registration. In addition, we host customer audits predominantly from our 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 2022, we maintained all certifications and continued harmonizing the quality management of the different Corbion sites based on the Global Quality Manual. This document underlines our drive for continuous quality improvement and food risk reduction. In 2022, one incident of non-compliance with regulations occurred.
- * Querétaro, Mexico is not included in the 2022 reporting scope.
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.
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. See our statement on chemicals safety and stewardship for more information.
Preserving the planet (SDG 12 Responsible production and consumption) is about moving toward a circular economy. Biobased ingredients and materials from Corbion play an essential role in promoting SDG 12 and help to create a circular economy. SDG 12 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. In 2022, 53% of our revenues contributed to preserving the planet.
In 2022, 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, 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. The new Circular raw materials program in our Incubator is dedicated to the development of new production processes that support the production of biochemicals and biobased plastics made from these alternative 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.
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 doing 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 are 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, soybean oil, and wheat suppliers in the US. For sugar, palm oil, and soybean oil sourced outside of North America, the absence of deforestation is verified through audits, satellite studies, and Bonsucro, RSPO or ProTerra certification. Combined, we verified that at least 93% of our key raw materials are deforestation-free globally, a step up compared to 2021 (82%).
To better understand the potential impact of Corbion’s business activities on biodiversity and to demonstrate our commitment to addressing 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.
In October 2019, Corbion publicly committed to climate change action, making science-based targets part of our standard business practice and tying our incentives program to those goals. Our targets were approved after a thorough, independent validation process by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). We were the second Dutch chemical company with a SBTi-approved target, providing a benchmark and inspiration for our peers and partners to transition to a low-carbon economy. We committed to reducing our Scope I, II, and III greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to energy, key raw materials, and transport by 33% per metric ton of product by 2030 (with 2016 as the base year).
In 2022, we already achieved our 2030 target by realizing a 39% reduction compared to our 2016 baseline. This reduction is primarily driven by the accelerated implementation of renewable electricity at our site in Rayong, Thailand and product mix effects. In the past years, we have been able to commercialize significant amounts of gypsum (a co-product of lactic acid production), which increases the production volume without adding emissions.
Building on this progress, we raised our climate ambition in 2022 to align with 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. This target is what the latest climate science has told us is needed to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change. We committed to reducing our absolute Scope I and II emissions by 38% and our Scope III emissions by 24% per metric ton of product by 2030, compared to 2021. Our new targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. In 2022, we have already made significant progress towards achieving these new targets by reducing our absolute Scope I and II emissions by 8% compared to 2021. Our Scope III emissions reduced by 17% per ton of product, equivalent to an absolute reduction of 2% compared to 2021. This reduction is caused by a combination of lower purchases of raw materials and the implementation of RSPO certification.
One of the key initiatives to achieve our target is the transition to renewable electricity. By now, 10 of our 12* manufacturing sites are fully powered by renewable electricity. Compared to 2021, we increased the use of renewable electricity at our site in Rayong, Thailand to 100%. 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 by 2025.
In 2022, the implementation of a major energy savings project at our facility in Blair, US almost reached completion. This project is part of the 40% capacity expansion announced in 2021. 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. This circular technology will reduce cradle-to-gate CO2 emissions per metric ton of lactic acid by 19% compared to conventional technology.
We also established a R&D program to identify new technologies to implement in our manufacturing facilities, including electrification, low-carbon energy sources, and recycling. As member of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology, the ELECTRIFIED consortium, and VoltaChem, Corbion participates in various external research programs focused on developing low-carbon and energy-saving technologies. 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 2022, we continued our engagement with key suppliers of cane sugar, dextrose, soybean oil, and chemicals. 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 project developed in collaboration with Cargill (see Sustainable agriculture) resulted from these engagement activities. In addition to supplier engagement, another approach is to implement third-party sourcing certifications, such as 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. Considering the EU ETS forecast scenarios of € 90, € 125, and € 150 per metric ton by 2030, Corbion has introduced a global internal carbon price of € 100 per metric ton for Scope I and II emissions to be included in all investment decisions. In addition, this has been used as a sensitivity in the goodwill impairment test. Including the internal carbon price, the outcome would not lead to impairments.
- * Querétaro, Mexico is not included in the 2022 reporting scope.
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 unit operation. 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 2022, 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 are 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 as to prioritize locations for action.
- * Querétaro, Mexico is not included in the 2022 reporting scope.
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 2022, we have explored three alternative valorization routes that have the potential to absorb the full by-product output. For one of these options (agricultural application), we have submitted a request for regulatory approval.
Our new circular lactic acid manufacturing process eliminates both the need for lime as input material and avoids the generation of gypsum as a by-product. Our new factory in Rayong, Thailand, that is currently under construction and will be completed by the end of 2023 will utilize this process, expanding our production with as little impact on our footprint as currently technologically feasible.
Landfill of generic waste was reduced by 44% compared to last year. Our site in Araucária achieved zero waste certification, and our site in Campos realized a new outlet for one of their waste streams.
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.
In 2022, we performed LCAs for the lactic acid and derivatives produced at our facility in Montmeló, Spain and we updated the LCAs for our facility in Rayong, Thailand. With these additional studies, we assessed 94% of our products that contribute to preserving the planet. As part of our 2022 strategy review, we raised our ambition and committed to conducting cradle-to-gate LCAs for all products by 2025. In 2022, 78% of our production volume was covered by an LCA.
Corbion uses Social Value Assessment (SVA) to understand the social impact of our business activities on our stakeholders throughout our supply chain. In 2017, Corbion joined the Social Value Initiative (formerly 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 and in 2022, we performed the assessment for our manufacturing facility in Rayong, Thailand. 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. The results of these assessments can be found on our website.
As part of our 2022 strategy review, we raised our ambition and committed to conducting cradle-to-gate SVAs for all products by 2025. In 2022, 54% of our production volume was covered by an SVA.
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 (SDG 2, 3, 12, 13, 14). 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.