Jens Birgersson, CEO of the ROCKWOOL Group
Looking back, 2019 was a year of progress on many fronts in the battle against climate change, but there’s still much work yet to be done. After reaching the highest annual emissions on record, countries and cities around the world are revising their climate ambitions upwards, sending important signals to business and citizens alike that they too must push ahead with more ambitious targets.
The release of the EU Commission’s Green Deal framework in December sets a positive tone in Europe, with the overarching goal being to achieve a climate-neutral EU by 2050. Recognising the critical role buildings play in the climate equation, EU member states are expected to announce more detailed energy efficiency plans, which over time could help accelerate the renovation of building stocks and increase the demand for insulation.
In our home country of Denmark, the government’s climate ambitions are setting the standard globally with a binding commitment to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent relative to 1990 – and to do so by 2030. This is an ambitious and necessary step by Denmark to lead the way in mitigating the serious consequences of climate change that we all are witnessing. Our products play a significant role in saving energy and thereby carbon emissions. At the same time, we are eager to demonstrate that, even as an energy-intensive manufacturer, we can live up to Denmark’s 70 percent absolute greenhouse gas reduction commitment before 2030, while keeping the production in Denmark. You can read more about our target and how we’ll get there on pages 12–13 of this report.
At ROCKWOOL, we made good progress in 2019 toward reaching several of our sustainability goals, helped along by the inherent recyclability of our stone wool, which we leverage by offering comprehensive recycling services around the world. Last year, we increased this to 11 countries by adding Switzerland. We have also cut production waste going to landfill by 17 percent since 2015, by investing in internal recycling.
Of course, our commitment to recycling isn’t just about our own products – it’s about creating systemic change across our industry. To that end, we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 in 2019 so that we could share our insights to drive circular thinking in the building sector and to learn and be inspired by others.
Regrettably, we experienced a fatal accident during construction of the new factory in Romania. An employee from a local subcontractor succumbed to injuries following a fall from height. As a result, we increased supervision of subcontractors by direct personnel from ROCKWOOL as we continue to work towards zero fatalities across our facilities.
On the positive side, we reduced our Lost Time Incident rate last year by 17 percent, which is an important indicator of increased focus on safety in the workplace.
Regarding the UN SDGs, we built on our commitment to make progress against them by adding a new metric that will help track our contribution to SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth. We can now estimate the jobs and economic value ROCKWOOL Group creates directly or indirectly as well as the socioeconomic value of the energy our products save. Many of these jobs and the economic value they generate will be created outside major cities, in the smaller communities where we tend to have our operations, bringing much needed revenue and growth to areas that can be overlooked. Our #iRockGlobalGoals Idea Challenge in 2019 focused on engaging all employees in innovation to create even bigger impacts on the SDGs.
In 2019, we became the first company in Denmark to host quarterly calls with investment analysts focused solely on our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) management and performance. The calls create an opportunity for a constructive dialogue on the planet and people issues that our investors care about and we have been pleased with the level of engagement they have generated.
You’ll find more details on our performance throughout this report. Though the challenges are great, we believe the solutions are at hand to turn the tide on climate change. We are as committed as ever to maximising the positive impact of our products while reducing the negative impacts of our production. The potential for progress is enormous.
We thank you for your interest and hope you enjoy reading the report.
CEO of the ROCKWOOL Group