Annual Report 2014 - Our responsibility in the markets and towards the environment

Our responsibility in the markets and towards the environment

Our responsibility in the community and the markets

better together in the communities where we are active

Bekaert strives to be a loyal and responsible partner in the communities where we are active. We make a point of interacting with local governments in a transparent, constructive way, and we are firmly committed to complying with national legislations and collective labor agreements. Bekaert adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and recommendations of
the International Labor Organization.

Also in acquisition deals, Bekaert attaches great importance to building open and constructive relationships with local government bodies and with social representatives as of the start.  This was particularly the case in the communities we welcomed as part of the Pirelli deal.

better together with customers and suppliers

Bekaert has production facilities and sales offices in 40 countries and builds lasting relationships with customers and suppliers wherever we do business.

We work closely with customers and suppliers by engaging in co-development projects, by conducting feedback initiatives and satisfaction surveys, and by performing industry analyses together.

In 2014, Bekaert’s Purchasing department laid the groundwork for future sustainability targets related to the supply chain. Conversations began with selected suppliers to investigate how progress could be measured on certain sustainability KPI's via integrated value chains.
The first steps to roll out the Suppliers’ Code of Conduct were taken towards the end of 2014, and the launch is foreseen in 2015. In close cooperation with key suppliers, shared targets were set for 2015 regarding driving sustainability forward.

We actively cooperate with global customers, especially from the automotive, construction and energy related markets, in supporting their CSR programs by implementing specific actions in our CSR policies. Acting as a socially responsible supplier helps our customers achieve their sustainability targets.

Our responsibility towards the environment

better together for a cleaner world: we continuously strive to use fewer materials, cut energy consumption and reduce waste.

Bekaert’s concern for the environment is applied in various aspects: First, we seek to develop new, eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide. In 2014, we finalized the ‘New Environmental Technologies’ project. The aim was to acquire knowledge and expertise in environmental technologies and thereby boost the environmental performance of plants worldwide. Cost-effective solutions were developed for all major waste aspects. Practical solutions include the recuperation of rinsing waters in the production process, and the conceptual design of a zero liquid discharge project. The purpose is to run the plants without the need to discharge industrial waste water to the city sewer systems.

Secondly, prevention and risk management play an important role in Bekaert’s environmental policy. In 2014, we updated our procedures for the prevention of soil contamination. Through self-assessments, internal audits and best practice sharing between plants, an action plan was defined in 2014 and will be implemented in the course of 2015.

Responsible use of water is also a priority. Programs that aim to reduce water usage in the long term were established and focus on getting a clear view of our water balance.

In 2014, 95 % of our consolidated plants worldwide were ISO 14001 certified. Bekaert’s full worldwide certification is an ongoing goal; it is an element in the integration process of newly acquired entities and of companies that are added to the consolidation perimeter. Bekaert also received a group-wide certification for ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.

Lastly, Bekaert develops products that contribute to a cleaner environment. Ecology is an aspect that is considered starting from the R&D phase of new products. In many cases, it is even a driving factor in product development. Newly developed products with ecological advantages are described in the chapter on Technology Leadership.

Some examples:

  • Customized drying and heating systems based on gas and electrical infrared drying technologies for the paper and board industry or converting and metal processing applications.
  • Ternary Alloy Wire Coating (TAWI) steel cord, reducing 80% of cobalt needs in tires.
  • Water-based coated low carbon wires as a substitute to solvent lacquered products.
At an ongoing base, our Dramix® steel fibers used in the construction sector lead to less usage of steel compared to traditional concrete reinforcement products, less energy consumption and faster processing. And Bekaert’s super-tensile and high-tensile steel cord types significantly lower the tire weight and the thickness of the rubber ply. That is why they eventually lead to lower rolling resistance and lower fuel consumption.