Sustainability has grown exponentially as a focus in the architecture and construction industries. Seen very much as a ‘nice to have’ in the past, it is now seen as a fundamental aspect of business operations; sewn into the business’s very fabric. Sika is one such company. With an expansive view of the meaning of sustainability that encapsulates everything from the products they create to the happiness of their workforce, this leading construction chemicals company is undoubtedly an innovator in the space.
Whereas sustainability may previously have been equated with environmental conservation, the definition has now expanded in recognition of the need to address social and economic issues as well. Social sustainability might include fair labour practices, promoting diversity and inclusion, and ensuring that supply chains are free from exploitation. Economic sustainability recognises the need to balance profit-making with long-term financial stability; things like investing in sustainable technologies and practices, reducing waste and inefficiencies, and ensuring that the company's finances are transparent and accountable.
Sustainability has been at the core of Sika’s business ever since founder Kaspar Winkler invented Sika-1, a quick-setting waterproofing admixture for mortar, in 1910. Working tirelessly to drive stakeholder engagement for more than a century, the company has more recently begun to align its sustainability strategy along environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations. This includes a commitment to genuinely sustainable added value along the entire value chain, and acting in accordance with the universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption established by the United Nations Global Compact Initiative.
While it is active across numerous initiatives and projects to move the needle on sustainability, there are a few that are the centre points of focus for the business currently:
Innovation and Sustainability
Combining innovation and sustainability allows Sika to help transform the construction and transportation industries by placing sustainability aspects at the core of strategic and operational innovation processes, while simultaneously driving operational efficiency and excellence across the organisation.
"Sika has the innovative strength and solutions to transform the construction and transportation industries – and this will be all the more evident if we work together with our customers and suppliers,” says Patricia Heidtman, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer at Sika. “For this reason, we see net zero not merely as a business challenge, but primarily as a major opportunity to grow."
Sika has joined the growing group of leading corporations that are setting emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement. With a steadfast commitment to becoming a net zero company by 2050, the company has defined a strategic target for reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions by 12% until 2023. And, in a case of literally putting their money where their mouths are, the compensation scheme of Top Management and Sika Senior Managers is linked to the CO2 performance of the company (scope 1 and 2). Further, in October 2022, Sika finalised a lengthy initiative to calculate emissions from its material scope 3 GHG categories, with the combination of impacts across Scopes 1,2 & 3 forming the basis of the company’s pathway to reach net zero by 2050.
Sika has always viewed sustainability as a driver for innovation - with the ultimate outcome that sustainability has become the key driver for their R&D projects. “Replacing Portland cement in our mortar production will enable us to lower CO2 emissions by up to 480 kilotons by 2025,” explains Patricia - and the company has already found the substitute materials necessary without compromising product quality. In addition, the company achieved a breakthrough in concrete recycling with reCO2ver® and continues to explore alternative, renewable materials, low carbon solutions, new recycling concepts, and more efficient production methods.
Sustainability Portfolio Management
Sustainability Portfolio Management (SPM) enables the company to manage innovation and sustainability together, minimise risks while maximising opportunities, and create positive business impact. The SPM framework is the backbone of the company’s Sustainable Solutions strategy, and a methodology to evaluate, classify, and market products in terms of performance and sustainability - ensuring products always keep sustainability front and centre.
Looking to the future, Sika plans to keep accelerating towards its net zero goal, as well as furthering its impact across the other facets of sustainability. The company will continue investing time and money into identifying, analysing, and developing more efficient accounting methodologies to lower its Scope 3 emissions. They will also continue to support circular economies through all their projects in the form of recycling programs and recycled products themselves. And they will continue to form partnerships and prioritise collaboration with like-minded companies to deliver results across the entire value chain.
With the definition of ‘sustainability’ now accepted to extend far beyond environmental conservation, companies that build strong relationships with stakeholders, attract and retain customers and employees, and create long-term value for their shareholders are more likely to be able to drive real-world impact across the board. Sika is one such company. With a focus that touches every corner of their business, products, and supply chain, there’s little doubt that Sika will continue to innovate, and deliver sustainable outcomes, many years into the future.