Webinar Talks Path to Sustainability

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Sustainability may be a concept that that is easy to endorse, but there is no end of practical steps to be taken and facts to be considered for companies trying to adhere to the principles of the movement.

That was one takeaway from a Sept. 29 webinar, “Sustainability: Materiality and Reporting,” jointly organized by I.C.I.S. and Lubes’n’Greases. The event provided information tailored specifically to the lubricants industry as audience members bombarded panellists with questions ranging from metrics for calculating carbon dioxide emissions and life cycle assessments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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The event kicked off with keynote speaker Maurizio Abbondanza, the business growth and sustainability director of U.K.-based chemical additive company Infineum. He described the company’s sustainability journey, one which began in 2017, and its future direction through six corporate sustainability goals.

Infineum released its first sustainability report in April, setting out its goal to cut carbon emissions per ton of product by a fifth by 2025.

“Sustainability cannot be treated as a simple project, the definition of sustainability is too broad, and it is fast evolving,” Abbondanza said. “It also impacts all parts of the organization in different ways and stimulates a different response from different parts of your organization, from enthusiastic supporters to skeptical opposers.”

He went on to say that the quest to identify each company’s ideal sustainability identity should be based on business opportunities, affordability and whether it supports the company’s strategy, rather than from an ideological position.

Apu Gosalia talked about sustainability materiality of carbon footprinting in the lubricants industry, saying companies should measure, manage and minimize carbon dioxide emissions.

Gosalia, independent sustainability advisor and partner at German sustainability consulting firm Fokus Zukunft, described a model that he referred to as the “5 Fs” for calculating and cutting down emissions. “Footprint,” “feedprint” and “fingerprint” refer to different points along the supply chain where emissions should be calculated and if possible reduced or even avoided, he said. His other two Fs are “fining print,” which refers to rerefined base oils that he contended lube blenders should consider using, and “firing print,” which refers to the incineration of used lubricants that cannot be recycled. When waste oils are burned, Gosalia said, the goal should be to maximize the energy yield while minimizing and capturing CO2 emissions.

By taking all of these things into account, he said, lubricant companies take a cradle-to-cradle and circularity approach to approach to managing greenhouse gas emissions.

“When we look at the future of the whole circular economy, we also need to think beyond what happens to a lubricant that has done its job,” he said.

Gosalia is a regular contributing editor on sustainability at Lubes’n’Greases.

Elaine Cohen, the founder-manager of sustainability consultancy Beyond Business, said it is strategically important for companies to be transparent in disclosures about their CO2 emissions. She also shared a list of the 10 most common excuses why companies aren’t transparent.

“One reason to report is to build trust in your business,” she said. “Transparency builds trust. Seventy-six percent of the trust capital in your business is built through … ethical drivers, which includes being transparent. Trust is a foundation for all of your relationships. You can’t attract investors, you can’t attract employees and you can’t retain your customers without trust.”

She went on to describe how Tesla, a company widely associated with clean, sustainable transport, is notorious for its opaque business practices. This, she said, leads stakeholders to ask what the company is hiding, which undermines confidence in its long-term sustainability. A recording of the webinar can be accessed for free at I.C.I.S.’s website through this link.

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