Our responsibility 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. 

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 department stepped up its engagement to enhance sustainability awareness and control with our suppliers. We reached a global spent coverage of 75% in 2016 (1). We evolved to 80% coverage of our global wire rod spent through key supplier agreements (1). Key supplier agreements are multi-year partnerships in which sustainability, supply chain integration and innovation are explicit building blocks. In 2016, we kick-started the signing of these key supplier agreements in other categories too. Shared targets and action plans for 2017 were further worked out with key suppliers, enabling us all to drive sustainability forward across the supply chain. 
(1)Excluding BBRG

Bekaert recognizes the importance of responsible sourcing, in 2016 all suppliers covered by the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) signed the Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct and completed the most recent template issued by the CFSI. This is an initiative of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi), that help companies from a range of industries address conflict mineral issues in their supply chain. 
We actively cooperate with global customers in sustainability programs. We support their sustainability programs by implementing specific actions in our respective policies and we joined sustainability initiatives and standards to accommodate specific customer requests.

Our responsibility towards the environment

We continuously strive to use fewer materials, cut energy consumption and reduce waste. 

Our 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 2016: 
  • The LED program replacing all traditional lighting by LED lights in production areas worldwide, has been further rolled out. We achieved annual energy reductions savings of 63 GWh. The program is expected to be completed by end 2017.
  • Excluding China, 25% of electricity needs came 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.
  • We have continued to make progress in the treatment of used hydrochloric acid. A significant number of Bekaert plants outsource 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. Alternatively, 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.
Secondly, prevention and risk management play an important role in Bekaert’s environmental policy.
  • Bekaert’s global procedure to ensure precautionary measures against soil and ground water contamination (ProSoil) was further fine-tuned with concrete action plans in the course of 2016.
  • Responsible use of water is also an ongoing priority. In 2016 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.
  • In 2016, 95% of the Bekaert plants worldwide were ISO 14001 certified.  ISO 14001 is part of the ISO 14000 internationally recognized standards providing practical tools to companies who wish to manage their environmental responsibilities. ISO 14001 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. Bekaert also received a group-wide certification for ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management.
Lastly, we develop products that contribute to a cleaner environment. Ecology is an aspect that is already considered 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 examples:
  • Fortifix®, an interlayer steel cord structure for non-structural road renovations. This solution not only provides a high service-life, it is also 100% recyclable.
  • 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.
  • Water-based coated low carbon wires as a substitute to solvent lacquered products.
  • Sawing wire, which allows manufacturers in the photovoltaic industry to cut polysilicon ingots into wafers for the production of solar cells with a minimum loss of material.
  • Bekaert’s super-tensile and ultra-tensile steel cord ranges for tire reinforcement allow tire makers to produce tires with a lower weight, thinner plies, and lower rolling resistance. For the end user this results in reduced CO2 emission and lower fuel consumption. The highest tensile strength cords made by Bekaert currently enable a decrease of cord weight by over 30% compared to normal tensile strength cords.
  • Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group introduced a new range of polymer core ropes and extreme pressure-resistant lubricants NXG (next generation) ropes and Brilube® Extreme for deep water applications. In deep waters, lubricant components may break down due to high pressures, especially when the core of the steel ropes loosens. This all may lead to accelerated corrosion, a shorter rope life, environmental impact and increased operating costs. Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group developed high pressure resistant low friction polymer grades that give improved support within the rope construction, limit water ingress into the rope core, and act as a medium to carry other property enhancers. This is in conjuction with Brilube® Extreme, a next generation lubricant. This lubricant was developed by Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group and selected lubricant manufacturers to meet extreme deep water conditions, wider operating temperature range and ever increasing environmental regulations. The Brilube® lubricants are used both in rope manufacture, custom rope assembly and service dressing.