Our responsiblity in the market place 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 from the start. This was in 2015 particularly the case in the communities we entered 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 2015, Bekaert’s  Purchasing function stepped up its engagement to enhance sustainability awareness and controls with our supplier base. The Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct was rolled out with the top 10 of our spend categories and thus far suppliers representing more than 40% of our global spend agreed to work with us in building sustainable supply chains. Moreover we introduced and signed key supplier agreements with our wire rod suppliers up to around 60% of our global wire rod spend, using sustainability, supply chain integration and innovation as explicit building blocks in the multi- year agreements. Shared targets and action plans for 2016 were defined with key suppliers, enabling us all to drive sustainability forward across the supply chain.

Bekaert recognizes the importance of responsible sourcing. In 2015 we continued to implement measures compliant with the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative. This is an initiative of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi), that helps companies from a range of industries addressing conflict minerals issues in their supply chain.

We actively cooperate with global customers in sustainability programs. We support their CSR programs by implementing specific actions in our CSR policies and we joined sustainability initiatives and standards to serve specific customer requests.

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 3 domains: our continuous efforts to develop new eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide, prevention and risk management and the development of products that contribute to a cleaner environment.

In the first domain, our ambition is to develop eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide. In 2015:
  • We have made progress in the treatment of used hydrochloric acid. A significant number of Bekaert plants outsources the treatment of used hydrochloric acid to external contractors. These contractors convert the waste acid into iron chloride coagulants used for water treatment. Lab scale tests have now been conducted to convert the used hydrochloric acid into an iron chloride solution, which will facilitate reuse by contractors. In one of our plants, the consumed hydrochloric acid is recuperated on-site, after treatment by a regeneration unit which converts the waste acid into iron oxides and fresh hydrochloric acid. The latter can be reused in the production process.
  • In 90% of our plants in Europe and Asia Pacific all traditional lighting was replaced by LED lights. In 2016 the remainder of Europe and Asia will be completed and the program will be further rolled out in our plants in North and Latin America. This project will reduce the energy consumption for lighting by 50%.
  • Excluding China 24% of electricity needs came from  from renewable energy sources. Including China (where power from renewable sources is scarce), 15% was from renewable sources. The success rate in sourcing from renewable energy sources largely depends on the availability of these sources and of data thereon. In Ecuador, to mention one, 100% of Bekaert’s electricity consumption is from hydraulic energy.
Secondly, prevention and risk management play an important role in Bekaert’s environmental policy. In 2014, an action plan was defined to prevent soil contamination. These plans were successfully implemented in 2015.

Responsible use of water is also a priority. In 2015 we expanded programs that aim to reduce water usage in the long term. We thoroughly analyzed and evaluated our water balance in order to set a standard for Bekaert worldwide.

For 2015, 95% of our consolidated plants worldwide were ISO 14001 certified. ISO14001 is part of the ISO14000 internationally recognized standards providing practical tools to companies who wish to manage their environmental responsibilities.  ISO14001 focuses on environmental systems. 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. Our recent acquisitions (Pirelli Steelcord, Arrium Ropes) already held the ISO 14001 certificate. The related plants keep their certificate as part of the Bekaert group. Bekaert also received a group-wide certification for ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management. 

Lastly, Bekaert develops products that contribute to a cleaner environment. Ecology is an aspect that is considered already during 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 Bekaert product examples:
  • Amagnetic armoring wire for offshore wind mills. The exploration of offshore wind energy in Northern Europe has more than doubled over the past five years. This has stimulated more investments in windmill farms.  Bekaert provides armoring solutions for subsea power cables that optimize transmission efficiency and prevent power loss.
  • Customized drying and heating systems based on gas and electrical infrared drying technologies that increase efficiency and reduce energy. These systems are used in various sectors and applications such as 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.