Ensuring product stewardship
As an integrated chemicals and energy company with an expanding production and sales footprint, limiting the health, safety and environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of our products is integral to our sustainability efforts. Through our business partnership with suppliers and customers, and our stakeholder engagement approach, we promote the responsible storage, use, conversion and final disposal of our products.
Our approach to product stewardship
Enhancing our SHE performance and sustainability throughout the product lifecycle is central to our on-going commitment towards zero harm. This includes having a sound understanding of the hazards, risks and international chemical control regulatory requirements applicable to all our products and driving continuous improvements to prevent product-related incidents.
We are advancing key focus areas to ensure alignment with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) goals through to 2020 and to ensure compliance with changing international chemical control legislation. Our system and technology enablers are being expanded to incorporate other requirements, including classification of mixtures under the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) and regulatory tracking. By undertaking a global review of our product inventory, we are developing internal standards to improve the integrity of our systems and ensure that our product data is uniform, consistent and complete.
We remain focused on compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements, both current and emerging. For example, in our European operations, we ensured that we successfully met the May 2018 deadline for registration of small tonnage chemicals under the European Union regulation, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) which addresses the production and use of chemical substances.
Safe product transportation
Significant focus continues in advancing our product logistics performance including the loading, transportation and safe storage of our products. For example, at our Base Chemicals division, critical controls to prevent and address undesirable high severity incidents in product transportation have been identified for both internal and external service provider fleets. Our critical controls leverage the potential of digitalisation, including the introduction of telematics systems into pool cars and product transportation fleets.
Seven significant transport incidents occurred across the Group, resulting in four tragic third-party driver fatalities. This compares to 10 significant incidents resulting in five third-party and two service provider driver fatalities in 2017. Our product transport indicator of performance (TIoP)* improved from 4,09 in 2017 to 2,2, against a target of 3,9 representing a 46% improvement. These improvements reflect our continued focus on strengthening controls to prevent incidents.
Customer focus on product sustainability
Sasol continues to work closely with our customers to align with their changing sustainability needs and to ensure continued business growth. Increasingly, we collaborate with key customers in developing chemical products that help to meet their goals and societal needs for more sustainable products, supply chain innovation, and ethical partnerships with strong corporate social responsibility practices. Customers are focused on products that improve their energy efficiency, while at the same time reducing waste. Efforts are underway to understand our portfolio of ‘sustainable products’ – those that impart downstream value-chain sustainability improvements relative to conventional analogous products. We also participate in corporate social responsibility evaluations conducted by independent service providers (e.g. EcoVadis) and support audits of our operations conducted as part of these exercises.
As global awareness of the impact of plastics on the environment increases, focus on the use of single-use plastics in consumer packaging is growing. Some of our customers purchase our polymers to manufacture industrial and consumer plastic packaging. Given this growing trend, Sasol is undertaking work to develop a coordinated response on this issue.
Plastic litter in the environment and our oceans is unacceptable and Sasol has a number of community initiatives underway in line with the waste hierarchy principle of reducing, re-using, recycling and responsibly disposing of plastic waste. Our initiatives globally include supporting plastics education, improving waste management, bolstering recycling and contributing to marine litter collection. We continue to explore ways in which we can make further meaningful contributions to sustainable plastics waste management.
Our major specialty chemicals functional product clusters include products that respond to customer needs in delivering downstream, value-chain sustainability benefits. Selected examples are shown below:
ALCOHOL AND SURFACTANTS
Cold wash detergents and dry cleaning solvents
Sustainability benefits imparted
Our detergent alcohols enable the production of surfactants for detergents that allow use of lower temperatures for cleaning of fabrics. This improves overall energy consumption in the product lifecycle in addition to other benefits such an increased lifetime of garments.
We produce an approved alternative dry-cleaning solvent to perchloroethylene, which is less volatile and reduces health risks to dry cleaning operators.
Ultra high purity aluminas (UHPA)
Sustainability benefits imparted
As a support for catalysts, UHPA enables refineries to meet stringent final fuel specifications, reduce air emissions from their direct operations and also serves as a support for particulate emission filters in vehicle diesel engines. UHPA enables the production of LEDs, which, when used in lighting applications, enables greenhouse gas emission reductions relative to conventional incandescent bulbs.
FISCHER-TROPSCH (FT) HARD WAXES
Sustainability benefits imparted
In candles, FT waxes displace paraffin and palm fat candles. In construction applications, these waxes are emulsified and then applied in reconstructed fibreboards which are used indoors for flooring, construction material or wooden equipment. Relative to paraffin wax, less FT wax is required per unit of fibreboard, reducing volatile organic compound emissions. FT waxes used for asphalt modification result in lower energy consumption (reduced asphalt production temperature), reduced emissions and enhanced pavement performance and durability.
During the reporting period, we continued to respond to customer queries on various product stewardship related matters. In 2018, as a result of customer engagement, three sustainability audits were conducted by third parties at three of our production facilities globally. The results of these audits confirm our performance (EcoVadis gold rating), which has continued to improve over the years. In 2017, we were rated in the top 5% of evaluated chemical companies globally. In 2018, Performance Chemicals received a sustainability performance award from a major international customer. A new initiative was also launched in South Africa to engage our key customers in implementing product stewardship and Responsible Care© practices at their own sites. In addition, we provided product awareness and training to some of our customers.
Engaging key stakeholders
We continue to engage key stakeholders globally including various chemical industry associations which consider life-cycle management issues for raw materials and finished products derived from them. Under the auspices of the International Council of Chemicals Associations (ICCA) Responsible Care® in Africa Task Force, we support the adoption of the Responsible Care® initiative Kenya.
In South Africa we work with government in advancing our common goals relating to the SAICM and in reviewing regulatory frameworks on safe chemicals management.