Introduction by the President and CEO
2011 and 2012 were challenging years for WACKER, characterized by the consolidation in the global photovoltaic market, which impacted our business development. Overcapacities had built up in the sector, putting pressure on prices, and customers found themselves in a difficult financial situation.
Despite the tough times that the photovoltaic business is currently going through, we are confident that solar energy will carry on growing, firmly establishing its position as an indispensable energy source for the future. Due to a marked decline in system prices, solar energy has become even more competitive in comparison with other energy sources, and rising numbers of solar arrays are being installed across the world, with countries such as China, France, India, Japan, South Africa and the USA increasingly turning to solar energy.
Photovoltaics is only one example of how sustainability – above all in the area of energy production and efficiency – is an important business model for WACKER. Further examples from our product portfolio are silicone elastomers for energy-saving LED technology, dispersible polymer powders for building insulation, and additives for the manufacture of wind turbines. To help meet our strategic goals, we are focusing on the highly promising fields of energy, urbanization and construction, digitization, and rising prosperity in emerging countries.
Over the last two years, we have developed an analytical tool that enables us to estimate, right at the R&D phase, the environmental impact of new products. The analysis of product-specific environmental effects performed with this tool is gradually being established within the Group and will help us to further improve the sustainability of our products.
Sustainable management applies not only to our product portfolio; for years, sustainability has been an integral part of all WACKER’s production and business processes. We have made it a top priority to reduce raw-material consumption and save energy. Our great strength here is our closed production loops: we reuse byproducts as starting materials for other products, and also recover waste heat from processes to use in other production steps.
Specific Energy Consumption Will Fall Further
Over the last five years, WACKER has taken various steps to save energy: from 2007 to 2012, we cut specific energy consumption by as much as 22 percent. A further reduction of 11 percent by 2022 is now the target. Overall, we will have brought our specific energy consumption down by one-third by 2022.
The importance of sustainability to us is demonstrated by the fact that we have made it one of our five strategic goals and have compiled our own Code of Sustainability to deal with this aspect of our activities. Sustainable development means balancing economic, ecological and social factors in everything we do.
To ensure that sustainability becomes even more rooted within our company and to ensure that it is put into daily practice, we set up an internal Corporate Sustainability department. This unit oversees the implementation of WACKER’s voluntary commitments under Responsible Care® and the Global Compact and coordinates our sustainability activities worldwide.
One statistic we are not satisfied with is our accident frequency. Although we recorded fewer reportable accidents than the German chemical industry average, in terms of workplace accidents with missed workdays, we are behind those chemical companies that lead the way in occupational safety. Thus, we are systematically implementing our new WACKER Safety Plus (WSP) program, which incorporates successful safety elements from sites that have particularly low accident rates.
Our success in business is also down to the confidence society places in us, and we are committed to charitable projects. For instance, 2013 is the seventh year in a row that we have donated to a German children’s and youth charity called the Ark (“Die Arche”). Since 2012, our employees have been able to regularly donate the cent amounts on their monthly paychecks to WACKER’s relief fund, with the company doubling the workforce donations. In this way, a third of our employees in Germany support and sustain the foundation’s projects, which focus on schools and vocational training facilities. CHEM2DO is the name of our new and revised experiment kit for schools. It gives students an opportunity to explore two of our important product groups, namely silicones and cyclodextrins, and we have now also developed a Germany-wide special training course to familiarize teachers with the kit.
As confirmed by studies and surveys in Germany and elsewhere, WACKER continues to be an extremely popular employer. As for many companies, demographic change is posing a challenge for us. We must redouble our efforts if we want to stay attractive to graduates in critical disciplines and to our employees. For this reason, we are now introducing a groupwide talent-management process which will serve to fill key positions and identify and develop suitable candidates for challenging tasks.
As a company that has committed itself to sustainability, we are more than aware that achieving sustainability is a never-ending process – and in the last two years, we have made considerable progress along the way.
Munich, Germany – September 2013
Dr. Rudolf Staudigl
President & CEO of
Wacker Chemie AG