How can a chemical distribution company embed sustainability in its strategy? This question first emerged at Novasol Chemicals back in 2013. Over the years, environmental awareness grew, as did the number of initiatives. In 2021, the Novasol team took a giant leap forward when deciding to calculate their carbon footprint with the help of Futureproofed software and consultants.
Authorities, suppliers, consumers and employees: every stakeholder is urging chemical companies to decarbonize. To Novasol Chemicals, the intrinsic motivation to embed sustainability in their strategy was just as important. Aware that they have a responsibility towards future generations and eager to become a sustainability leader in their industry, they decided to join the Voka Sustainable Entrepreneurship Charter.
Challenge: how can we measure our carbon footprint?
Voka requests participants in the Voka Charter to consolidate environmental, social and economic initiatives in an annual, 10-point action plan. While an admirable first step, the actions at Novasol mainly focused on community projects, people-related topics, waste management, etc. Moreover, they were restricted to the headquarters in Belgium, while the company actually operates in 25 countries around the globe. That’s why in 2021 they decided to accelerate sustainability, by calculating their carbon footprint.
“Novasol distributes chemicals, so we offer sales and services, rather than making products,” says Hilde De Baere, Novasol’s HR Manager. “So, we knew that direct emissions would only be a small part of our total carbon footprint. We wanted to understand exactly how much carbon was lurking in our operations and supply chain, to then set actionable objectives and targets. But we couldn’t do it alone.”
The unique Futureproofed approach
Hilde and her colleagues decided to team up with a carbon management consulting firm that could help them quantify their carbon footprint while, at the same time, offer expert advice. Futureproofed was head and shoulders above the other suppliers that they met with. “Professional, very motivated, international and with a unique approach,” Hilde explains. “While the others offered mainly carbon accounting software, Futureproofed combines its software with consultancy and advice. Moreover, they insisted on involving our entire team in the exercise – which is hugely important in ensuring adoption.“
“Futureproofed was head and shoulders above the rest: professional, very motivated, international and with a unique approach. More than software, they offer consultancy and advice.”
Hilde De Baere, HR Manager at Novasol Chemicals
1+4 steps towards a sustainability roadmap
To kick off Novasol’s sustainability journey, Futureproofed first quantified the 2020 and 2021 carbon footprint using the Futureproofed climate-tech platform. The results provided a starting point for developing the sustainability strategy. In four dedicated workshops, Futureproofed sat together with eight employees from different offices around the globe, including Hilde and the CEO, to identify the impact of Novasol’s activities, set emission reduction objectives and targets and define concrete actions.
From calculations to roadmap: 4 workshops
Session 1: Map the overall impact
Using the results of the carbon footprint measurements and the UN SDGs, the team charted Novasol’s environmental, economic and social impact.
Session 2: Define objectives
Based on the impact mapping and results of the carbon footprint, the work group formulated objectives on what the organization aims to achieve between now and 2030.
Session 3: Set science-based targets
The objectives were translated into specific and measurable targets in line with the 1.5°C pathway, as described in global frameworks like the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal.
Session 4: Determine concrete actions
In a final session, the group decided on the actions and initiatives required to achieve the objectives and targets.
As they dived deep into their footprint data, Novasol was startled to see that products account for 99% of their total carbon footprint. “It was an eye-opener,” says Hilde. As only a few of our suppliers provide us with emission data and even fewer have Life Cycle Assessment details, it is hard for us to know the carbon footprint of the products that we are sourcing. Still, we feel that a lot is going on these days in the field of sustainability, so we hope to gradually gain more insights. For now, Futureproofed has helped us identify a series of concrete objectives that are certainly achievable in the short to medium term.”
Arousing company-wide enthusiasm
Novasol Chemicals is now getting ready to launch the sustainability strategy that they developed together with Futureproofed. They set up a work group charged with driving sustainability actions, monitoring the progress, communications and reporting – and plan to keep relying on Futureproofed experts to support them.
“The insights we’ve gained motivate us to push our sustainability program to the next level. We see how more and more colleagues are interested and willing to cooperate. We know that transforming our business will take time, but this is a great first step to truly embed sustainability in our strategy and make it a key part of our decision-making process. We are confident we will reap the benefits of this investment in the future,” Hilde concludes.
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