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Eco-efficiency

We further reduced our CO2 emissions and tested the sustainability profile of more of our products change

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:

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

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

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

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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 2013 we had achieved a 17% reduction compared to the 2006 benchmark year. This means that for equivalent production levels we emitted 17% less in carbon equivalent. This compares to a reduction of 12% that we had achieved by the end of 2012. The improvement in 2013 is almost entirely due to 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 requiring more energy and emitting more CO2 equivalent than for other residue streams. The input mix in 2013 was positive in this regard. We also saw a reduction of emissions from the blast furnace due to adaptations made in previous years, the benefits of which are now being fully felt (see our 2012 report). We also made some further overall progress in the 24 other sites which, together with Hoboken, have the highest emissions in the Group. 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 a 4% reduction in absolute emissions since 2006, compared to a reduction of 3% registered at the end of 2012. Please see the environmental note E3 for full details.

Next to the process improvements introduced at sites which have the highest levels of absolute emissions, our ability to reach the 20% reduction objective by 2015 depends on the evolution of both the raw materials mix in Hoboken and the electricity mix as Europe moves away from lower-carbon sources. (see our 2012 report).

We continued to implement initiatives at some of our larger sites to promote a lower carbon footprint from employees’ transportation. These include the use of electric vehicles at our sites in Olen, Hanau and Brussels. These zero-emission vehicles can be reserved by employees for use in work-related journeys or at weekends.