This was not the first environmental conference that voestalpine has put on for its experts, however, among the annual conferences on this topic, it was the largest one the Group has ever organized.
On September 8–9, 2015, 74 participants from production companies worldwide met to compare notes and exchange ideas, but especially to learn more about current issues pertaining to the environment and energy, which will be affecting us to an even greater extent in the future. It was not merely the list of invited guests from Europe, Africa, America, and Asia that made it obvious that this subject has developed from a largely regional issue of emissions reduction, energy efficiency, and conservation of resources to a global topic with an enormous impact on the strategic decisions made by the entire Group. The very prominent line-up of speakers also emphasized the importance that is ascribed to addressing environmental issues.
Setting the course for the future
CEO Wolfgang Eder took this opportunity to address his remarks to those employees whose work product will increasingly impact decisions made by the Management Board.
"We have to set the course for the long-term future of voestalpine. To this end, we have to answer fundamental questions, and we need a well-founded basis for our decision-making. Your expertise is crucial for this process. I am certain that the environmental network will not lack work in the coming years, and I appreciate the contributions you have made thus far. Let us continue to work together on our future."
These questions were later recapitulated in greater detail by Johann Prammer, Head of Strategic Environmental Management. The initial answers were provided by Bernhard Kohl, who spoke about the current development of global—and especially European—climate policy, and voestalpine Head of Research Thomas Bürgler, who commented on the technological options that could be used to implement requirements of this climate policy that may be introduced in the future. At the subsequent round table, the significance of these as yet unforeseeable developments was discussed before an audience by a panel that included not only CEO Wolfgang Eder and Head of Environmental Management Johann Prammer, but also members of the Management Board Herbert Eibensteiner and Franz Kainersdorfer.
Part of the solution
While the first part of the conference primarily posed questions relating to process technologies, the second part dealt with voestalpine products. External expert Michael Narodoslawsky from the Graz University of Technology and in-house expert Stefan Schuster focused on life cycle assessment. The huge advantage that steel products have vis-à-vis competing materials lies in the evaluation of the impact of products on the environment over their entire life cycle (and not only during their utilization phase). It is becoming increasingly apparent that steel is not a part of the problem but that it can be part of the solution, Schuster noted. As Claudia Korntner stated in the final speech, this is a task that voestalpine is undertaking within the scope of its corporate responsibility. Subsequently, the participants took part in intensive workshops and discussions.