Sustainability

Industry Lacking Sustainability Standardization
“Just look at what happened with COVID, and how quickly we came up with vaccines,” said Chris Hines, keynote speaker for the UKLA conference. Hines' climate activism dates back decades as co-founder of Surfers Against Sewage and the Eden Project. © PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Industry Lacking Sustainability Standardization

By Simon Johns - Jun 06, 2022

The lubricants industry needs a unified approach to sustainability standardization, panelists said at a conference organized by the United Kingdom Lubricants Association. The one-day event last week at the Institute of Directors in London focused mostly on the industry’s environmental impact and carbon footprint.

“We need to start measuring, because if we don’t start measuring, we’re not going to know if we’re doing it how we’re doing it,” said Sabrina Carciun, senior business development manager at Kline & Co. and one of two women participating in the event. 

The situation for the lubricants business is indicative of industry in general. Companies use a variety of standards and frameworks, depending on needs and relevance. These include the Global Reporting Initiative, which is the most widely used, and the International Standards Organization, among many others. Each has its own pros and cons and specificities.

“Some people are looking increasingly at ISO standards,” said Tobias Tasche, managing director of SIP Speciality Oils and Fluids. “Other people are [looking] more at sustainability across the whole supply chain. Others are less interested in carbon footprint, but they focus on other aspects of the ESG agenda. In the absence of clearly defined standards that are widely accepted across the industry, at the moment is still a case of letting 1,000 flowers bloom.”

>Read more about sustainability standards here. 

Adoption

Panelists also expressed their concerns about the pace of adoption of sustainability activities. Larger companies should offer support to smaller companies and customers who need resources and supporting data, one panelist said. 

“We need to be industry leaders … ,” said Greg Edwards, Certas Energy’s business unit director. “Don’t wait for whether it be government regulations or industry regulations, we need to push ahead to support them through this journey, because we can’t do it all individually.” 

Keynote speaker Chris Hines urged participants to get to work on a document outlining sustainability standardization. Hines is the co-founder of environmental group Surfers Against Sewage and the Eden Project.

“Just look at what happened with COVID, and how quickly we came up with vaccines,” Hines said. “We addressed that with the massive urgency to sort something out. You should be able to come back to this conference next year … with a draft set of criteria that reach right across the industry for measuring it.”

PR Drive

The participants in the panel also discussed a perennial stumbling block for the industry: communicating its contribution to energy efficiency and carbon emissions mitigation.

“The reality is also that we haven’t done … as good a job as we could have done perhaps in highlighting and underlining message of lubricants industry,” Tasche said. “Giving that half a percent or 1% of increasing efficiency year on year in its own right is a huge material contribution to reducing our impact.