As the first steelmaking company ever to have the honor, voestalpine was awarded the Green Brands Seal on 11 November.
Since 2011, the Green Brands organization has awarded companies and products that have made a substantial contribution to the environment. The Green Brands Seal is awarded according to a multi-step evaluation process. External experts and an independent jury in the Green Brands organization had to be convinced of voestalpine’s dedication to global environmental protection and sustainability in order to consider it for the Green Brands award.
Environmental management: Very good
Green Brands initiator Norbert Lux listed the evaluation results on the occasion of the award, which was presented at voestalpine Stahlwelt. According to Lux, voestalpine achieved excellent results based on the following main criteria:
- Environmental management systems
- Corporate Responsibility
- Utilization of resources
- Waste strategy
- Internal awareness
The jury members who issued the final judgement were convinced. Says Lux: “The jurors’ questions clearly show the decision was not a sure-fire success.” It is important to note that voestalpine is the first steelmaking company to ever be subjected to such an evaluation. voestalpine CEO Wolfgang Eder believes the Green Brands Seal awarded to voestalpine is merited by the entire company because factors in transparent stakeholder communication and social commitment are just as important to the outcome as facts from the environmental department: “The Green Brand Seal is proof that successful business practice and the way we deal with our social and ecological responsibilities are not contradictory in any way.”
"Having been awarded the Green Brand Seal is proof that successful business practice and the way we deal with our social and ecological responsibilities are not contradictory in any way."
Not an easy path
voestalpine was recommended as a candidate by a Green Brands media partner. The company was proud to accept the nomination and to be subjected to the comprehensive validation process consisting of more than sixty highly complex and difficult criteria that had to be met. Green Brands knows that not every candidate is capable of successfully completing the validation procedure. Around thirty percent of the candidates terminate the procedure prematurely. The reasons range from an underestimation of the time and expense to the unrelenting guidelines that require proof of compliance with the criteria.
How the Green Brands seal is awarded
- Step 1: Candidates are nominated based on market research, proposals from NGOs, media partners, jury members and other Green Brands awardees.
- Step 2: Candidates are evaluated according to more than sixty criteria by external committees of specialists, e.g. SERI, ALLPLAN. The candidate is promoted to Step 3 if a benchmark of 51 percent is reached.
- Step 3: An independent jury reviews the evaluation and gathers any pertinent information. A two-thirds majority determines whether the Green Brands Seal is awarded.
- A re-evaluation process is required every two years to maintain validity of the seal.
Beneficial to work processes
Johann Prammer, Director of Environmental Affairs at voestalpine, was intimately involved in the evaluation process and recognizes additional benefits: “The Green Brands award makes us look at ourselves in the mirror and put a finger on things that need improvement. The process has become a part of our work roadmap for the coming years.” Our goal of course is to keep our status as a Green Brand company. Claudia Korntner, responsible for corporate responsibility (CR) at voestalpine, confirms that Green Brands is the path that voestalpine would like to take in the future. Her reasons include the Group-wide collection of CR indicators in many production companies as well as the topic of sustainability in the supply chain.
Each criterion in the evaluation process is used to measure the performance of voestalpine:
- Awareness of environmental compatibility and sustainability as a company value that is put into practice by employees worldwide
- Reduction of process-related emissions per ton of crude steel in the past three decades, e.g. carbon dioxide emissions reduced by 22 percent, dust emissions by 95 percent
- Contribution of voestalpine steels to sustainable conservation of resources, e.g. light-weight steels in automotive design, materials that increase energy efficiency
- Social commitment on a global basis, e.g. apprentice initiatives, comprehensive and transparent communications, awareness, promotion of safety and health at work
Green Brands has established itself over the past five years as an international seal of quality in the field of sustainable ecological activities. Fritz Hinterberger, President of the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) and Green Brands member of the jury: “The Green Brands Seal is awarded to products and companies who not only carry out individual environmental projects, but who are have aligned themselves with the principles of ecological compatibility.” Consumer organizations especially emphasize the consistently high quality standards of this seal and show how the seal not only provides orientation, but how it can also lead to improvements in many different important areas, including ecological and social domains. The organization is currently expanding its reach in further European and Asian countries, a feat not made easy by the stringent catalog of criteria, a fact that Norbert Lux and Fritz Hinterberger can attest to. Green Brands has been awarded in Austria to several companies, including Palfinger, Brau Union, Römerquelle and denn’s, an organic food store chain.
"The Green Brands award makes us look at ourselves in the mirror and helps us put a finger on things that need improvement. The process has become a part of our work roadmap for the coming years."
"voestalpine achieved excellent results based on important criteria such as environmental management systems and internal communications."