Introduction by the President & CEO
We are going through a period of major political and economic risks at present. In spite of the challenges that we face, we think and act in a sustainable manner. Our approach is described in our new sustainability report.
We have been implementing our strategic goal of focusing even more strongly on sustainability since 2018, when we launched our “WACKER Sustainable Solutions” program. It turns the spotlight on issues such as greater use of renewable raw materials and the development of sustainable product innovations. In 2018, our portfolio grew by including 120 new products and applications. Here is a recent example: a line of dispersible polymer powder enables the production of powder-form interior wall paints – they are biocide-free, low-emission, and easily mixed with water.
Without thermally conductive silicones, electromobility would be impossible. The batteries in electric vehicles get very warm during recharging and operation. This heat must be dissipated to avoid a malfunction or even a fire. We have launched a series of products here, and automakers are using them for battery cooling.
The future belongs to biotechnology: it develops new drugs, makes our diet healthier, and protects the environment. We combine our chemical expertise with biotech know-how and understand how to use Nature’s toolbox. We are confident that chemistry will become increasingly “biologized.” This is because application opportunities are far from exhausted. We see huge potential here and are investing in production and new technologies.
Here are two recent examples: at León in Spain, we started producing cysteine, a natural amino acid, for the food and pharmaceutical industries in December 2018. At our new site in Amsterdam, just as at our sites in Halle and Jena, we use microorganisms to produce pharmaceutical actives for tomorrow’s medicines.
Solar energy is the most environmentally friendly and cost-efficient energy source worldwide, and the market for high-value solar cells will continue growing. We are focusing resolutely on polysilicon for monocrystalline solar cells.
Our employees are crucial to our innovative strength and sustainability. The focus here is on acquiring skills and knowledge. Last year alone, our employees participated in more than 15,000 advanced training measures.
In this regard, the safety of our employees, plants and processes is our top priority. In September 2017, there was one incident that affected us deeply. Our new US polysilicon site in Charleston reported a hydrogen explosion. It was caused by an unforeseeable technical defect in a compressor. Part of the facility was severely damaged. The key point for us is that no one was hurt. Given the difficult situation, our employees did a splendid job. Even though production in Charleston was halted for a long time, all our employees there were kept on. We see that as part of our corporate and social responsibility, which, in turn, is a key aspect of our WACKER culture.
We are doing everything humanly possible to prevent a similar incident from ever recurring. Although we have been recording fewer reportable workplace accidents than the German chemical-industry average for several years, we still have not achieved the goal we set ourselves regarding occupational accidents with workdays missed. We aim to make improvements in this area, too, and continue to firmly implement our occupational safety programs.
Our workforce values WACKER as an employer. We conducted a poll of our employees worldwide. The outcome of our 2018 survey was that employees identified very strongly with their employer. 82 percent of our employees took part in the survey – a record number.
We are doing a lot to keep things that way. For instance, by enabling our employees to achieve a good work/life balance. We have adopted a family-friendly policy – which has been praised not only internally, but beyond, with the Bavarian government having presented WACKER with its “Successful. Family-Friendly” award.
In this report, you can read about how we joined “Familienpakt Bayern” (Family Pact Bavaria). We helped found “Umweltpakt Bayern” (Bavarian Environmental Pact) some considerable time ago and have remained a committed member ever since. WACKER will continue to play its part to make the world a more sustainable place to live in.
Munich, Germany – July 2019
Dr. Rudolf Staudigl
President & CEO of Wacker Chemie AG