Sustainable products and services

In 2020, 77% of Group revenues were from activities that deliver products or services that are directly linked to clean mobility or recycling, up from 75% in 2019, and up 18% compared to 2016, when we began tracking revenues in this way. Many of the materials and services making up the remaining 23% of revenues provide answers to specific societal needs such as improved connectivity (materials for high quality glass, displays) or reduced energy consumption (materials for use in energy-efficient lighting such as LEDs).

Umicore’s Horizon 2020 objective is to generate further competitive advantage through the development of products that have specific sustainability benefits.

Clean mobility & recycling revenues - %

Our primary focus is on activities that provide solutions for clean mobility and resource scarcity.

Umicore plays a pioneering role in promoting a sustainable value chain for batteries and was the first company to provide its customers with battery materials of a certified sustainable and ethical origin. We strongly believe that higher transparency along the value chain will increase the sustainability of the battery industry. Therefore, Umicore joined Glencore, ERG and CMOC in the Re|Source consortium. Re|Source is developing an industry-wide blockchain platform to trace the origins of the raw materials and track them along the entire battery value chain.

To be a preferred sustainable supplier, we work directly with our customers to meet their environmental requirements and disclose our own performance and ambitions. In recent years, some customers have opted for a third party sustainable supplier assessment. For these customers, Umicore discloses to the CDP (see responses: CDP).

Umicore has fully monitored and reported on emissions since 1999 and included reduction targets in our strategic approach in 2010. We delivered emissions reductions beyond our targets then, and in the context of Horizon 2020 we're committed to continuous improvement of our environmental performance even as we continued to grow.

In 2020, Umicore received the Platinum Medal in Corporate Social Responsibility from EcoVadis, placing us among the top 1% of our industry peers in the EcoVadis global network of over 65,000 rated companies.

To support our ambition to turn sustainability into a greater competitive advantage, it is essential to develop a full understanding of the impact that our products have on the world and use it as a lever for improving the footprint of our products and services. At Umicore, the business units work with corporate EHS on life cycle assessments (LCA) to identify the environmental impact of their products and services and set a baseline against which improvements can be measured.

We share our learning and participate in association-driven efforts, such as those of the Nickel Institute, the International Platinum Association and the Cobalt Institute.

We perform LCAs on our materials on an ongoing basis. Using the opportunities identified in this new robust data, Umicore can leverage our unique combination of materials chemistry, energy mix and raw and recycled materials for improved overall environmental impact and a lower-carbon mobility. Umicore will continue to develop selective products and services that have specific sustainability benefits and answer the growing sustainability needs of our customers.

We develop specific sustainability solutions for our products and their applications by working closely with customers.

As a metal that offers huge potential for innovative applications such as clean tech and cutting-edge semiconductors, germanium is an important focus for Umicore’s circularity ambitions. Over the last five years, we have taken significant strides toward our goal of supplying 100%-sustainable germanium through a number of initiatives.

Germanium sourced through zinc production has an 85% smaller footprint than germanium sourced from coal, and recycled germanium has a 95% smaller footprint. Today, 50% of the germanium we use is recycled and more than two thirds of the remainder is recovered from industrial by-products, rather than coal. We also collaborate with companies around the world to develop innovative new ways to recover germanium from production processes and waste streams.