At the High Performance Metals (HPM) Division, we believe that true sustainability transformation starts from within. This means we set out to inspire with our actions. Since 2022, the projects and actions of the division and our subsidiaries have been combined, developed, and publicized under the inSPire brand.
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 which the inSPire story was based on.
The result is an umbrella brand covering the entire HPM Division and uniting all of our sustainability actions, efforts, and projects.
Our 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. We see it as a chance to learn from one another and grow together through close interaction and collaboration. The inSPire brand supports us here, providing a framework for all our sustainability efforts and related projects, allowing us to all work together toward clear goals and align our actions accordingly. 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. As a large international company, we also see this as our responsibility to our employees.
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.
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,” says Philipp Horner, 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 do we achieve this? With research, thorough analysis, and knowledge building around the three pillars.
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 is linked to 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.
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. At HPM, this means we are 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.
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. We see great development potential here and want to actively promote female managers and women across the workforce. This is shown by our commitment to equal opportunities: We not only seek to hire women, but also 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 a good networking opportunity. 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.
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 pursue the inSPire vision together 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,” explains Philipp Horner.
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 Horner 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.”
Our North Stars serve as a common thread running through our actions, and those of the company, and help us make focused decisions. We work to actively shape our environment and contribute to a future worth living. This led us to set ourselves 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, which will be explained in more detail in a later blog article.
“Leading the transition toward the circular economy” is one of the three North Stars. As noted at the beginning, sustainability is composed of the three pillars of economy, ecology, and social responsibility. Of course, 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, 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 we consciously pay a lot of attention in the division—after all, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, above all CO2 emissions, is a necessary step for climate protection. We therefore aim to reduce Scope 1 to 3 emissions across our entire supply chain.
“Leading by example” rounds off the visionary North Stars and brings the social component into play. Our 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. Our efforts do not end internally, however, but also continue externally by means of social projects.
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 Horner reasons. The framework created with inSPire now supports us in our daily activities to act in a coordinated and unified manner. We are immensely proud of this step and happy to be able to contribute to a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable future.
In following articles and on our website you can learn more about the inSPire brand, the team behind it, and how we can stay one step ahead in the future.