Last year’s extreme weather events across many regions tell us one thing very clearly: as the UN has recognised – the climate crisis is also a water crisis.

Managing water sustainably is an intrinsic part of tackling global warming, requiring us to take urgent action now to use our skills and expertise to make a difference.

Yet, while climate is getting increased attention, still too little thought is given to preserving, storing, and distributing our most precious resource – water.

Since the launch of our Growth with Purpose strategy in 2021, we’ve put sustainability right at the centre of our operations. We are driven by a sense of urgency and are convinced that we can have a significant and immediate impact if we act today, as well as working to achieve longer-term goals, like achieving carbon net-zero.

We’re motivated by a clear purpose: to bring solutions to the world’s water challenges and accelerate the transition to clean energy. And, across our business, we’re spurred on by the behaviours that guide us day-to-day – we dare, we care, we deliver.

Our strategy up to 2025 includes stretched targets, so that we make our operations and products more sustainable. We are also speeding up the development of sustainable innovative solutions. We progressed on all those targets last year.

Our strategy to 2025 includes stretch targets to make our own operations and products more sustainable and to speed up the development of sustainable innovative solutions, targets which in the last year we have continued to make good progress in meeting.

Our approach links directly to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 6 (enabling access to water and sanitation) and SDG 13 (taking urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts). In addition, we are working to support SDG 17, which urges organisations to support global partnerships for sustainable development.

Line De Decker, Chief People and Sustainability Officer
Line De Decker, Chief People and Sustainability Officer
Line De Decker

Chief People and Sustainability Officer

Solid progress on carbon emissions

By 2025, we aim to cut our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 75% per ton of production, mostly to be achieved by transitioning all our operations to renewable electricity. In 2023, 36% of our operations were powered by renewables compared with 22% the year before – a 25% increase.

Powered by renewables

36%

Since 2021, our carbon intensity has reduced by 18%, and this figure will soon rise to 21% thanks to a renewable power certification scheme run by local electricity supplier Hydro-Québec that we have joined and that guarantees all four of our plants in that locality will be powered by wind farms in the province of Quebec.

People across Aliaxis are fully engaged in helping us achieve our carbon goals, and we want to make sure they understand the scale of the challenge and what they can do to act on climate.

That’s why we’re proud to have set up in 2023 an online Climate School where, through a series of comprehensive modules, colleagues can increase their understanding of climate science and learn about steps they can take to combat climate change, whether at work or at home.

In the three months since the launch, about a third of our office employees have enrolled, spending on average just under four hours in class. The feedback on this learning experience has been positive overall and we continue to promote it actively.

Carbon intensity reduced

-18%

Since 2021, our carbon intensity has been cut significantly, with further reductions in sight

Some obstacles on recycling

Our 2025 target to quadruple the amount of recycled material in our products up to 50% of what is permitted by current regulations is proving a trickier goal.

Despite the strong lead taken by our Pacific business and some helpful advances in Latin America, it is proving difficult to secure external supplies of recyclate, an issue we are working on. Our acquisition of Comspec, a New Zealand plastic waste recycler, during the year will boost our efforts to increasingly become a circular economy business.

Faster and smarter development

A key Growth with Purpose target is to speed up the development of sustainable innovative water management solutions and we are doing this in close collaboration with our customers to understand and meet their needs.

Our Aliaxis Next division, set up in early 2022 to invest in or acquire disruptive early-stage water tech businesses, is playing a growing role in our endeavours with a focus on four key areas – resilient water infrastructure, sustainable water management, water for food and increasing access to water.

At a time when billions lack access to clean water and sanitation in their homes and when an estimated 35% of all water transported through networks is lost because of leaks, this work focusing on solutions such as leak detection and stormwater management, is clearly critical.

By end of 2023, Aliaxis Next had invested €75 million in building an ecosystem of nine highly promising and innovative companies in this space and there’s more to come.

Aliaxis Next investments

€75 million

Making our operations more sustainable

We are working to make our factories and offices more sustainable, with improvements across the board in carbon reduction, energy efficiency, water use and waste. A key feature of our operational excellence programme is the drive to make our plants not only more productive but also more resource-efficient.

For example, as well as meeting our renewable electricity goals during the year we also achieved our energy efficiency targets, reducing energy use by 3%.

We’re making our working environment more sustainable through our diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, with a particular focus on attracting more women into our workforce.

Our target is to make sure 25% of colleagues are women by 2025 and we’re making steady progress, with female representation up at 21.4% in 2023 compared with 19.2% the year before.

Our latest ‘Aliaxis and Me’ survey achieved a 92% response rate with 85% saying they were satisfied working for the company. That means we have already met our 2025 target for employee engagement but we’re clear that this is an issue which requires constant attention and we’re determined to give it just that.

Representation of women

21.4%

We’re closing in on our 2025 target for women to make up a quarter of our workforce

Why we’re embracing more rigorous reporting

There is an increasing responsibility to report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which is set to become more demanding in the coming years, thanks to the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. We welcome this and see it as an opportunity to increase the transparency of our activities, offering stakeholders an extra level of assurance on our commitment to sustainability.

We are thrilled to be members of the UN Global Compact, which commits us to achieving best practice in all aspects of ESG. In addition, we are participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project and have signed up to the Sustainable Procurement Pledge.

We subscribe to the EcoVadis global sustainability standard, where we moved from a bronze to a silver rating in 2023, in recognition of the progress we are making on environment, labour and human rights, business ethics, and procurement. This puts us in the top 15% of the companies rated by EcoVadis in our industry. In 2024 we will also be submitting our data to the Science-based Targets Initiative.

We are now carrying out a double materiality assessment which will allow us to prepare for the European Union’s new non-financial reporting requirements. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive demands a higher level of transparency in ESG reporting and our team is working to ensure that we fully comply with the new legislation, with a timeline to report fully in 2026 on our performance for 2025.

While in the early days of our Growth with Purpose strategy we focused predominantly on environmental performance, increasingly we are addressing the social and governance aspects of ESG as well.

For example, we have launched a new Code of Ethics, which builds on our earlier code of conduct, and are rolling out training on this across the business. The code is about ensuring that we act with fairness and integrity every day and in all our interactions with each other, with our stakeholders and in the context of wider society.

We are thrilled to be members of the UN Global Compact

Partnering to raise awareness

We recognise that we can’t just go it alone. We can achieve much more if we seize opportunities to work closely with like-minded public and private organisations who are also determined to find solutions to the twin challenges of climate and water.

During the year we revamped our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, with the aim of matching up our fundraising and donations activities with our purpose in bringing solutions to the world’s water challenges.

We are also partnering with a number of leading alliances working to preserve water and speed the roll out of clean energy solutions.

We continue to act as a convenor in the debate about water. We hosted a highly successful Action for Water event in Brussels in January bringing together entrepreneurs, economists, activists, and other experts to lift the profile of water as a key climate change challenge.

The event has led to several further gatherings addressing more targeted audiences, including an event hosted by Citibank in the Netherlands and a European Round Table in Paris, bringing together CEOs focused on the world’s water challenges.

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