At voestalpine, one thing has been clear for decades: no production without environmental protection. Measures range from ponds for green toads to photovoltaic systems and the circular economy.
Anyone wanting to produce pig iron and steel in the middle of Austria must meet high environmental standards. For that reason, environmental protection has always been integral to our identity and is a key component of our sustainability strategy. We do more than simply set targets. We take action, and measure and communicate our progress in achieving these targets.
"When it comes to sustainability, many people think mainly of CO2 savings. But we need to think of sustainability in terms of overall environmental protection."
Measures to reduce waste and air emissions
In addition to our comprehensive decarbonization strategy, we are taking measures to reduce air pollution and waste, expand the use of renewable energies, and protect bodies of water and biodiversity, such as by creating ponds for green toads at the Linz location. In recent decades, we have been able to reduce our air emissions in steel production to a minimum by optimizing processes and using sophisticated treatment facilities. In some cases, there are only a few in the world.
Photovoltaic systems for sustainable energy supply
We have reached a milestone in sustainable energy supply by installing photovoltaic systems throughout the Group. Our current PV systems can generate enough electricity each year to drive an average electric car around the world 10,000 times. More PV systems are in the pipeline.
Optimized use of materials and the circular economy
We also implement numerous environmental protection measures during the production process. We are optimizing our use of materials and hydrological circuits, expanding our charging infrastructure for e-mobility, and upgrading to energy-saving LED lighting. We are also promoting the circular economy, for example by using recycled materials and reusing by-products. This makes both ecological and economic sense because the dust, slag, and scrap collected in the production process are valuable secondary raw materials.
Our environmental management systems
When it comes to environmental protection, it is essential to have state-of-the-art technology and to comply with statutory emission limits. The environmental management systems in our companies enable us to ensure that the divisions implement and monitor the measures. We use precisely coordinated systems to determine where we stand in terms of target achievement. All data is collected in the Group Environment department at the Group level to provide a full overview. To make sure that we remain objective about our environmental performance, we have it assessed annually by external auditors as part of certifications such as ISO 14001 or EMAS.
Transparent approach to environmental protection
Being transparent about our environmental activities is as important as the environmental protection measures themselves. We provide an annual account of our environmental activities in our Environmental Reports and CR Reports. Environmental product declarations (EPDs) indicate the environmental impact of our products over their lifecycle. They provide information on a wide range of parameters, such how products could affect global warming, soil and water, health, and more.
Reality check with NGO
Our stakeholder management is also transparent. We maintain a continuous dialog with our stakeholders, in particular with respected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the climate and environmental sector. We have peer discussions about current projects, obtain feedback, and review political issues. The goal is for us to make better decisions on climate and environmental protection by gaining a constructive external perspective.
Guided by international standards
When it comes to environmental protection, we are guided by international recommendations and standards. For example, we have joined the Science Based Targets initiative which helps us align our business activities with the Paris climate protection targets. We also closely monitor the European Union’s environmental protection activities. Our environmental product declarations comply fully with the EU Commission’s recommendation on the use of Environmental Footprint methods.
"Protecting the climate and the environment is non-negotiable. Far from being an insignificant issue, this is a central component of our business activities. Our customers appreciate this, too, because ambitious climate and environmental protection has become a clear competitive advantage."
Our environmental protection measures at a glance:
- Compliance with legal limits for emissions
- Environmental management systems, including monitoring and controlling
- Ecological measures at our locations: careful use of resources, charging infrastructure for e-mobility, LED lighting, waste prevention, recycling management
- Transparency: Environmental Report, Sustainability Report, discussions with NGOs
The voestalpine Group’s current environmental expenditures jumped by 46% in the business year 2021/22, from EUR 300.1 million to a new high of EUR 437 million.