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KAITEKI is a Japanese word that encapsulates our Mitsubishi group philosophy to use science and innovation to create and nurture a society in which quality of life improves for all in a sustainable way. It’s a powerful concept that asks us to work in a way that balances the needs of our planet, our communities and our people. These principles have guided our work on sustainability for the last few years and we have recently achieved a Gold Award for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) after an independent assessment by EcoVadis. The Gold Award applies to all of Lucite International’s (LI) global operations and ranks us in the top 3% of all suppliers assessed to-date by the French company whose rating system has emerged as a standard for monitoring suppliers’ sustainability performance. Our Global Sustainability Manager, Andy Bragg, shares his thoughts on the fantastic news.

Sustainable development is often described in terms of the interactions between the three key elements of economic, environmental, and social impacts. The aim is to manage these interactions such that long-term economic viability is sustained while delivering minimum adverse and maximum beneficial environmental and social impacts. At a global level the United Nations (UN), international organisations and national governments are putting in place agreements, which are aimed at shaping corporate behaviour. An example of this is the UN Global Compact, which looks to establish a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environment protection and anti-corruption.

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Andy said: “As a result of these initiatives there’s an increasing consciousness of a broader set of business values, which has led to a distinct change in the scope of the interests and interactions between buyers and suppliers. In addition to the usual concerns about product specification and pricing there are now additional factors to consider in supplier evaluation. These interests reflect the need to understand and accept responsibility for compliance against the wider aspects of being a good corporate citizen through the whole supply chain.”

In Europe the large volume chemical industry companies have adopted the policies laid out in the code of conduct defined by the German Purchasing Managers Association. This seeks to drive the principles of sustainable development through their interactions with their suppliers. Andy continued: “After initially adopting this on an individual company basis it became clear that a joined-up approach would simplify the process for both buyer and supplier. The chemical industry body that puts this idea into practice is called Together for Sustainability (TfS). TfS uses formal questionnaires to determine to what extent a supplier has adopted the various principles associated with sustainable development. Rather than having a wide range of separate and differing supplier approaches, EcoVadis has developed a single assessment system, which has been adopted by TfS. The system is now the global benchmark in this area.”

The questions asked are tailored to many different applications and markets and are answered online. For each question the supplier must provide documentary evidence demonstrating how the company is operating in that specific area. The questions cover four main themes:

– Environment
– Labour practices and human rights
– Fair business practices
– Supply chain practices

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It is a rigorous process, which tests in detail what is in place against a very wide range of interests. Once the supplier has completed the questionnaire an EcoVadis team takes all the information provided and rates compliance against their assessment framework. This results in an overall score, a breakdown of scoring by the four major themes, a comparison of how this scope compares to other companies in similar business areas, and recommendations on how to improve.

Andy said: “We completed the assessment in November 2015 and were delighted to hear our Gold level supplier score of 69% this January. This puts us in the top 3% tier of all the suppliers they have assessed. “How did we achieve this excellent result? I think it came down to a combination of our existing policies and procedures plus our work in sustainability and corporate link into Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC). Without all three of these elements coming together it’s unlikely we’d have done so well. We are now able to bring the well-documented business policies and procedures of LI and the improvements in sustainable practices we have implemented over the last five years together with the high level policies of MCHC. Here are some examples of the elements that contributed to our 69% rating:

– Our HR Code of Conduct brings together and details our best practices
– Our SHE performance is world-class and we have measurement to support it
– We use ISO to externally benchmark our practices
– We have completed life cycle assessments for our major products
– KAITEKI maps onto the sustainable development pathway
– MCHC is a signatory to key protocols, such as the UN Global Compact.

This is an excellent result and demonstrates we have a base on which to continue to develop and grow in a sustainable way.”