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Eco-efficiency

We remain well on track to meet our Vision 2015 environmental goals on emissions and product sustainability.

Carbon emissions

Public policies in many regions of the world are responding to climate change and the challenge to reduce society’s carbon footprint. This is apparent from international agreements such as the Kyoto protocol and is supplemented with multiple national or regional initiatives and commitments. Umicore is present in many product and service areas that can make a positive contribution to the world’s energy and carbon footprint challenges and our Vision 2015 strategy identifies significant growth opportunities in industries that are linked to the response to these challenges, for example electrified cars, photovoltaics and recycling.

In terms of our operations we have chosen to pursue specific actions to reduce our carbon footprint and to further increase energy efficiency. In order to frame this approach we introduced an energy efficiency and carbon footprint policy in 2011.

The main pillar of this policy is the Group objective to achieve by 2015 a 20% reduction in CO2 equivalent emissions compared to the reference year 2006 and using the same scope of activities as 2006 (see note E3 for more details).

Other aspects covered by the policy are:

Capital investments: all capital investments must be reviewed for carbon neutrality.

Acquisitions: we will incorporate carbon intensity criteria in our assessment of acquisitions.

People and mobility: all employees are to be encouraged to make use of low carbon or carbon neutral mobility.

Scope 3 CO2 emissions: we will participate actively in the development of an appropriate accounting system of our Scope 3 emissions so that we can demonstrate the contribution of our products and services to a low carbon economy.

By the end of 2014 we had achieved a 25% reduction compared to the 2006 benchmark year. This means that for equivalent production levels we emitted 25% less in carbon equivalent. This compares to a reduction of 17% that we had achieved by the end of 2013. As in 2013, the improvement in 2014 was largely driven by the Hoboken site in Belgium. Here, the raw materials mix plays a significant role in determining CO2e emissions with the recycling process for some residue streams – particularly those from primary sources – requiring less energy and emitting lower levels of CO2 equivalent than for other residue streams. We also recorded lower emissions from our Automotive Catalyst operations as a result of switching to more efficient production processes at the former Delphi operations and also benefiting from a more energy efficient product mix. We also made some further overall progress in the other sites which, together with Hoboken, have the highest emissions in the Group. The level of scope 2 emissions also fell as a result of a less carbon-intensive energy mix on average in the countries where Umicore operates, particularly in Europe.

For those sites that were part of Umicore at the end of 2010 and excluding the activity adjustment for measuring progress against the objective we have recorded an 8% reduction in absolute emissions since 2006, compared to a reduction of 4% registered at the end of 2013. Please see the environmental statement E3 for full details.