Looking ahead, companies need to pay even more attention to the impact of investment decisions on their own sustainability. This is because, , it is important to ask how such investments contribute to the desired balance between returns and protection of the environment and people – especially in the case of major expenditures. As a precious metals specialist, the Global Business Unit Heraeus Precious Metals invests millions every fiscal year. Since November 2020, a mandatory sustainability rating for every major capital expenditure (CAPEX) process has helped to ensure that the sustainability perspective is considered.
The impetus for establishing an own sustainability rating came from a cross-divisional project team of the "2020 Heraeus Precious Metals Talent Team" management development program, which dealt with various sustainability issues as part of the program. One of the goals was to develop a corresponding meaningful rating for CAPEX processes in order to be able to evaluate various sustainability aspects when investing in plants, machinery or new production processes. "For a quick integration into our daily business, we focused on four points during the implementation: Simplicity, a pragmatic approach, speed instead of perfection, and strong involvement of senior management and the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team," explain Stefan Oehmen and Svea Scherleithner as part of the project team.
The result was a rating developed with the EHS department with eight top criteria, which in the first step are assessed purely qualitatively in the sense of rapid implementation. The spectrum of these sustainability indicators ranges from energy consumption and the amount of waste produced, through emissions and effects on the supply chain, to raw material consumption and occupational safety. In the future, quantitative data such as exact CO2 emissions will also be recorded.
The ease of use of the rating document was tested by the engineering and EHS departments during several of the company's ongoing invest processes. Their feedback was incorporated into making the document as user-friendly as possible. Since November 2020, the rating has now become an integral part of Heraeus Precious Metals' CAPEX processes. "This simple tool helps us to keep an eye on and optimize the sustainability footprint for our future business at an early stage," emphasize Oehmen and Scherleithner.
The implemented rating is part of several other sustainability initiatives currently underway at Heraeus Precious Metals. Since 2021, other Heraeus Global Business Units have also been using it as a proven method.