Following a review of its approach to sustainability in 2019, the Beckers Group is taking concrete steps to reinforce its vision to become the world’s most sustainable industrial coatings company. The review builds on the company’s good progress in recent years and has defined new sustainability streams and ambitious objectives.
“Having worked with holistic sustainability since 2009, we wanted to build on our good progress and take our work to the next level,” explains Nicklas Augustsson, Global Sustainability Director at Beckers Group. “This decade is crucial not only for Beckers, but for the entire global society and future generations, and our new strategy will ensure we will be part of the solution.”
Lindéngruppen offers leadership
“Being part of a group of companies has advantages and Lindéngruppen has helped us to develop our sustainability work,” says Judith Jungmann, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and member of the Group Leadership Team at Beckers Group. “How our sister company Höganäs has developed their sustainability agenda through an external stakeholder workshop was particularly inspiring – so much so that we organised our own.”
External stakeholder workshop
Beckers first held a management team workshop to align their vision of what sustainability means and set the scope for the review process. A two-day stakeholder workshop was then held with around 40 participants – including employees, managers, customers, suppliers, academia and NGOs – to imagine how Beckers should look in 2030 and how this vision can be achieved.
“We used external sustainability experts and the Future-Fit benchmark tool, which is based on the Sustainability System Conditions and designed to guide companies to make real progress and operationalise the UN Sustainability Development Goals,” explains Augustsson.
As a result of the process a new strategy was developed, with three streams for Beckers’ sustainability work until 2030 – Products with impact, Operations with impact and People with impact. Each stream has its own milestones and targets for the next decade.
Products with impact
“We have a unique opportunity in the chemicals industry to not only be a good corporate citizen but to produce products that can have societal benefit,” says Jungmann. “By helping our customers to make more sustainable choices and increasing the sales of our sustainable products, we can have a large positive impact.”
“We have been improving the environmental performance of our products for decades and are proud of our progress,” says Augustsson. “Our focus is now on developing even more sustainable products, such as more products based purely on bio-based materials and coatings that generate electricity and coatings with active surfaces that for instance interact with solar energy to depollute the air – to give us a competitive edge and promote societal benefit.”
Beckers’ Beckry®Therm is an example of a product that is already on the market with sustainability and societal benefits. The reflective building coating reduces the need for building cooling and the so-called ‘heat island effect’. Beckers also has a number of high solids and waterborne industrial coatings, and low-maintenance coatings that are easy to clean and durable with good longevity.
Operations with impact
Beckers has made good progress on energy efficiency and waste reduction at its production sites in recent years, but now the focus will be on material circularity and climate neutrality as its sustainability ambitions are stepped up.
“We have reduced our waste by 41 percent and our carbon emission intensity by 23 percent since 2013, and now source 32 percent renewable energy at our production sites – but we have the ambition to do much more,” says Augustsson. “Also, work with our operations isn’t just about Beckers, it also involves ensuring our suppliers meet our high standards by continuing to monitor and work with them to reduce impacts throughout our value chain.”
People with impact
The company’s new social sustainability strategy is based on empowering its employees, promoting health and well-being, improving gender diversity and community engagement.
“Our new People Plan focuses on driving employee engagement and the development of our colleagues, and monitoring progress through a Global Engagement Survey,” says Jungmann. “We have also achieved a low accident rate and have increased the proportion of women we recruited in 2019 for example. Employee communication has been made easier by a new mobile device app called myBeckers.”
Beckers’ community engagement work focuses on education and opportunities for young people and the company is exploring the potential to collaborate with Lindéngruppen and its work with the Global Child Forum.
Toward a sustainable vision for 2030
“We are currently integrating our new sustainability strategy into our entire business and I am extremely excited about the work we have ahead of us,” says Augustsson. “The collaboration with our entire value chain has been crucial and I am looking forward to continuing this collaboration with our customers, suppliers, NGOs, academia and other stakeholders to realise our ambitious 2030 vision together.”