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Waste & recycling

TAG overview

Although waste may contain valuable raw materials that can be reused in the production stream, it can also pose a wide range of risks to the environment. We therefore consider it essential to either prevent or recycle as much of our waste as possible.

Our approach to waste and recycling

We strive to prevent waste as far as possible by, for instance, developing new production processes or optimizing existing ones. When prevention is not feasible, we aim to recover materials or energy from the waste we generate. Waste separation makes it possible to recover and recycle raw materials, while unrecyclable waste is disposed of in an environmentally sustainable manner in line with waste disposal standards. In doing so, we take local legal regulations as well as the available disposal options into account.

We aim to limit the loss of raw materials and reduce the impact our waste disposal practices have on ecosystems. In 2023, we achieved our previous goal of lowering our Waste Score, our key waste management indicator, by 5% by 2025 (against a 2016 baseline). As we achieved this goal ahead of schedule, we have set ourselves a new ambitious new goal: By 2030, we aim to achieve a circularity rate of 70% across the entire Group (2023: 68%).

Responsibility for the waste disposal process

As a generator of waste, we are responsible for the ultimate disposal of our waste and therefore choose our service providers with the utmost care, contractually stipulating disposal requirements. We conduct random audits to verify their compliance with our disposal standards, especially when it comes to hazardous waste.

Roles and responsibilities

Our Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance (SQ) function bears overall responsibility for our waste management and recycling practices. Additionally, our site EHS managers are responsible for implementing our requirements at the sites and for maintaining legal compliance with the applicable regulations. We have a Group-wide committee consisting of experts from SQ and our business sectors to coordinate our approach to waste management.

Waste management forms part of our Group-wide environmental management system, with 95 sites (2022: 95) certified to ISO 14001. In addition to undergoing external certification, we also conduct internal EHS audits to review our waste management practices. Moreover, we regularly host activities such as EHS calls (e.g. on circular economy) to keep our local EHS managers and site directors as well as other employees up-to-date on the topic and to raise awareness.

Further information can be found under Environmental protection.

Our commitment: International guidelines and requirements

Our Group-wide EHS Waste Management Standard provides a consistent framework for waste management across all our sites, defining organizational structures and minimum requirements. This standard also stipulates that all facilities document their waste by type and quantity and report these data to our SQ function.

Systematic waste reduction

We use a variety of methods for recycling, recovering and disposing of the waste we generate, each of which has a different impact on the environment. To systematically account for these effects, we have put in place a waste scoring system that allows us to compare the amount of waste our individual sites generate and track our various waste streams. In this system, our waste streams are broken down into five categories by percentage: landfilling, thermal disposal, waste-to-energy, recycling, and prevention. This percentage is then multiplied by a factor that increases based on the disposal method’s environmental impact. The total from each category is added together to yield our total Waste Score. Prevented waste is multiplied by a factor of zero, thus lowering the overall score.

1 The base was retroactively adjusted owing to subsequent data corrections.

Waste Score (Graphic)
1 The base was retroactively adjusted owing to subsequent data corrections.

Reducing the environmental impacts of waste

We continuously examine our production processes and disposal methods to identify potential areas for improvement, an endeavor supported by the EHS units of the business sectors at each site. They regularly discuss best practices, share lessons learned across our sites and drive the transition to greener disposal methods. Having surpassed our initial goal ahead of schedule, we have now set a more ambitious target for ourselves: By 2030, we aim to achieve a 70% circularity rate throughout the entire Group.

Our new waste goal is calculated as the sum of recycled and avoided waste divided by the total waste in metric tons. It is important to note that waste-to-energy is excluded from this calculation as it is not considered circular. The scope of measurement includes production waste but excludes one-time effects from specific waste streams such as sludge from wastewater treatment facilities (subject to disposal restrictions by regulators), construction and demolition waste, and soil waste. All sites within the Group are included in this assessment.

The amount of waste we generated in 2023 decreased, totaling 291 metric kilotons (2022: 371 metric kilotons). Soil, construction and demolition waste accounted for 43% of our total waste in 2023 (2022: 53%). Our Waste Score as well as the circularity rate do not factor in this type of waste, which can rarely be avoided and must be disposed of in accordance with clearly prescribed methods.

Promoting circular economy

Through our ProMec (Progressive Material Economy) initiative at our Darmstadt site (Germany), we are promoting a sustainable, resource-efficient circular economy. We are refining our solvent recycling practices, thereby minimizing the adverse environmental impacts from the disposal of our production waste.

In 2023, together with the Technical University of Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt), we successfully completed the development of a digital platform prototype for the optimum use of waste and its avoidance. The project aimed to bring together waste generators and specialized waste recyclers for a secondary market. It will be established in the market under the name ‘Green Garnet’ within a start-up at TU Darmstadt.

At our site in Dallas, Texas (USA), we implemented a project that recycles plastic drums into rigid polyethylene (HDPE), which can be used for multiple new applications. During the reporting year, the site expanded this recycling process to include customer waste. More information can be found under Sustainable Products.

To give new life to equipment and materials that are no longer needed, we donate them to organizations such as universities. We also run internal exchange platforms for chemicals and equipment at some of our sites. In 2023, we donated 146.7 metric tons of material. We also partner with nonprofit organization Seeding Labs to donate equipment to under-resourced labs and universities around the world, totaling an additional 1.1 metric tons in 2023.

Additionally, we have actively engaged in a fertility pen take-back initiative in Denmark. We collect used pens from our patients with the aim of maximizing the amount of recycled content in new pens.

Shifting from landfill to waste-to-energy

At our site in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), we divert a vast proportion of our waste from landfill by employing waste-to-energy recovery. As of the end of 2023, this applied to 1,451 metric tons (2022: 1,310). Furthermore, the site is currently participating in a project to compose or reuse filter media in farming applications.

Short for “Environment, Health and Safety”, this refers to environmental management, health protection and occupational safety throughout a company.
ISO 14001
This international environmental management standard sets globally recognized requirements for an environmental management system.
The abbreviation for our Corporate Sustainability, Quality and Trade Compliance function.

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