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Sustainable performance inSPires

Sustainable performance inSPires

Since 2022, all the sustainable projects and actions conducted by the High Performance Metals (HPM) Division of voestalpine and its subsidiaries have been unified under the inSPire brand. Its approach is “to inspire” through its actions.

5 children holding a globe together on a sandy beach, the sun shining through their hands
In this article

Bringing together all three pillars of sustainability, as well as communicating sustainability authentically, building a committed team, and defining measurable KPIs and targets that keep everyone motivated over the long term—these were the requirements on which the inSPire story was based. The result is an umbrella brand covering the entire HPM Division and uniting all sustainability actions, efforts, and projects.

WHY inSPire?

The HPM Division is represented by subsidiaries in 45 countries worldwide. In addition to Austria, we have manufacturing companies in Sweden, Germany, and Brazil. Furthermore, the Value Added Services unit covers sales and services over four major regions: Asia-Pacific, North America, Central Europe, and International. Naturally, the division’s international nature poses a challenge, with each location having its own focus and areas of activity. However, this is also a source for new opportunities. This creates the chance to learn from one another and grow together through close interaction and collaboration. The inSPire brand functions as a framework for all sustainability efforts and related projects, ensuring a concerted approach towards achieving clear goals and aligning actions. In this era of climate crisis and changing social behavior, this combined approach is necessary to meet current and future requirements while remaining economically successful.

Rethinking the workplace goes hand-in-hand with rethinking society. Many people want to find fulfillment and meaning in their work. Not only is sustainability important to them in their private lives, but it should also be part of where they work. The inSPire brand helps us meet this need because it makes sustainable change visible and shows that the steel industry—by nature a resource-intensive sector—can represent a major lever for positive change.

What sustainability actually means

The term sustainability is often associated with short-term action for environmental friendliness. However, this approach is short-sighted, as sustainability is all about durability and longevity. Three pillars must be included in sustainable action: ecological, economic, and social. Only if all three areas are given equal weight can a company truly act sustainably, continue to thrive, and meet the demands of future generations.

For me, sustainability means enabling my children and grandchildren to experience the world as we did.

Philipp H.
Chief Sustainability Officer of the HPM Division

This attitude is deeply rooted in our company and is practiced in international projects across all sites. The goal is to avoid greenwashing and to communicate authentically in a sustainable manner with the aid of sustainability projects based on sound logic and a well-thought-out strategy. How can this be achieved? With research, thorough analysis, and knowledge building around the three pillars.

Portrait of Philipp H., Chief Sustainability Officer of the HPM Division
Philipp H., Chief Sustainability Officer of the HPM Division

Climate protection as a top priority

Climate protection is a key area of action for us. We are aware of the steel industry’s emissions and therefore see this as an area where we can make a major positive impact. For example, one of our pioneering projects for reducing CO2 emissions is the state-of-the-art special steel plant in Kapfenberg, Austria. Thanks to the latest technologies, the plant is able to conserve valuable resources and reduce CO2 emissions by 4,000 tons a year. The plant’s electric arc furnace is operated with 100% renewable energy. Additionally, the cooling water requirement is significantly reduced—by up to 90%—thanks to closed cooling circuits. Another vital component is the efficient recovery system, through which the heat generated is reused within the plant and fed into the public district heating network.

Large steel extraction pipes on the roof of the stainless steel plant in Kapfenberg
Extraction pipes on the roof of the new stainless steel plant in Kapfenberg.

On the path to the circular economy

Doing business sustainably means keeping an eye on the future. In order to ensure the supply of crucial raw materials in the future, it is therefore important to conserve resources, reduce the use of primary materials, and replace them with recycled resources and secondary raw materials. The HPM is always on the lookout for alternative sources of raw materials and new ways to recycle by-products. We already recycle scrap within HPM and in cooperation with our customers, and this is to be further expanded in the future.

Container full of steel chips
Sorting steel chips correctly at the workplace helps to keep materials in circulation for as long as possible.

Thinking socially

The steel industry is (still) a male-dominated sector. Currently, 16% of management positions at HPM are held by women. Women make up 15% of the total workforce. This represents a huge development potential; female managers and women across the workforce should be actively promoted. Consequently, we are committed to equal opportunities: We not only seek to hire women, but also to support them individually in their professional development. That is why we are working on a global program for female managers that focuses on training, coaching, and mentoring, while providing good networking opportunities. So far, 36 women are participating in a pilot program. The goal is to accompany even more women on their professional development journey in the future and give them the opportunity to actively take part in the community.

Success with the right team

The team behind inSPire is as international as our sites. This lively team gives the brand its energy as they promote sustainability within the division and to the employees. It is made up of a lead for each focus area (Circular Economy, Climate Impact, Sustainable Sourcing, Social Impact) and motivated team members who jointly pursue the inSPire vision and strive to achieve its goals.

My vision for inSPire is one in which we manage to integrate social and environmental aspects into our business processes in such a way that it also adds economic value.

Philipp H.
Chief Sustainability Officer of the HPM Division

There are several building blocks for success here. The specialists come from a wide range of backgrounds, contributing valuable knowledge that can benefit everyone. Additionally, cooperation is always based on a spirited exchange of ideas between the team members. A common goal motivates them to pursue this exchange across locations and departments. Personal interest in the topic of sustainability is just as important, if not more so. This does not end in the professional context, as Philipp H. recounts: “I have always enjoyed my work, and I can identify very strongly with inSPire on a personal level. The brand’s values are very much in line with my personal ones, and I try to live them in my everyday life as well. This gives me tremendous energy and motivation to push the issue of sustainability through my daily actions. Apart from that, of course, my children are my biggest motivation for working toward a sustainable future.”

5 children holding a globe together on a sandy beach, the sun shining through their hands
CO2 transparency and use of the CO2 footprint of products as a further sales argument.

Directional North Stars

Our North Stars serve as a common thread running through our actions, and those of the company, and help us make focused decisions. The HPM works to actively shape the environment and contribute to a future worth living, setting itself ambitious, forward-thinking goals. These North Stars are implemented primarily within the framework of the four focus topics: Circular Economy, Climate Impact, Sustainable Sourcing, and Social Impact.

  • “Leading the transition toward the circular economy” is one of the three North Stars.

As noted at the outset, sustainability is composed of the three pillars of economy, ecology, and social responsibility. The circular economy touches very strongly on the ecological aspect on the one hand, and on the economic aspect on the other, making it a central area of activity on the path to a sustainable future and one which we would like to drive forward in the division.

  • “Leading the way on the path to decarbonization” is a clear and ambitious goal to which the division pays much attention—after all, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, above all CO2 emissions, is a necessary step for climate protection. Therefore, the aim is to reduce Scope 1 to 3 emissions across the entire supply chain.
  • “Leading by example” rounds off the visionary North Stars and brings the social component into play. The company’s success, and by extension inSPire’s success in its sustainability projects and reforms, depends largely on the motivation and knowledge of all our employees. These efforts are not exclusively internal, but also external, taking the form of social projects.

Sustainable Success with inSPire

The requirements for inSPire were clear, and the goals ambitious. “It takes courage to do certain things differently, as well as to bring the appropriate focus and the performance needed to drive change,” Philipp H. reasons. The framework created with inSPire helps us act in a coordinated and unified manner in our daily activities.

Our focus on sustainability

For decades, voestalpine has been the environmental and efficiency benchmark for the industry. We focus on sustainability out of conviction, not because it is the trend. We provide information on which sustainability criteria and standards we follow, on how we are continuously improving our carbon footprint, and about the innovative, sustainable products and solutions we develop for our customers in order to make the world a little better.

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voestalpine AG

Die voestalpine ist ein weltweit führender Stahl- und Technologiekonzern mit kombinierter Werkstoff- und Verarbeitungskompetenz. Die global tätige Unternehmensgruppe verfügt über rund 500 Konzerngesellschaften und -standorte in mehr als 50 Ländern auf allen fünf Kontinenten. Sie notiert seit 1995 an der Wiener Börse. Mit ihren Premium-Produkt- und Systemlösungen zählt sie zu den führenden Partnern der Automobil- und Hausgeräteindustrie sowie der Luftfahrt- und Öl- & Gasindustrie und ist darüber hinaus Weltmarktführer bei Bahninfrastruktursystemen, bei Werkzeugstahl und Spezialprofilen. Die voestalpine bekennt sich zu den globalen Klimazielen und verfolgt mit greentec steel einen klaren Plan zur Dekarbonisierung der Stahlproduktion.