Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 15 (logo)

Solvay currently places over 13,000 products on the market. Solvay is committed to a comprehensive understanding and management of the hazards, risks, and applications related to hazardous materials. Solvay's management of hazardous substances addresses the different steps in the value chain. Substances of very high concern (SVHC) in particular are subject to dedicated management approaches as regards: (1) use as raw materials, (2) placing on the market and possible substitution, (3) handling during manufacturing, and (4) managing hazardous waste. In addition, Solvay pursues a strategy of decreasing the use of hazardous substances in value chains, and of maintaining consistent safety information on hazardous substances.

Portfolio strategy

Solvay continues to proactively assess its portfolio of activities (Sustainable Portfolio Management assessment) in order to orient strategic investment and portfolio decisions towards greater sustainability. This means scrutinizing, for every new marketed product, a series of sustainability criteria: SPM is used to assess every product in each application, including for the presence of SVHCs in downstream value chains (either stemming directly from the presence of substances of very high concern in Solvay products or from components other than Solvay products associated in the final solution on the market). 

Information on hazardous substances: extended rules

Solvay centrally manages product safety information for all hazardous substances. This is key to ensuring adequate management of these substances, both in Solvay operations and along value chains. The following management elements have been reinforced and are now fully effective (except for the recently acquired Cytec):

  • standardized Safety Data Sheets, using shared rules and models across the Group
  • automatic Safety Data Sheet authoring and distribution (rules for classification, automatic distribution according to the countries of sale, Global Labeling System, etc.)
  • consistent product labels that comply with regulatory guidelines worldwide
  • common regulatory data, toxicological and ecotoxicological data, and phrases library.

Substances of very high concern (SVHCs) voluntary approach

Solvay implements a global voluntary approach for the approximately 300 substances of very high concern in products and raw materials, meaning it keeps updated inventories of SVHCs handled by Solvay operations on the basis of an updated reference list, handles SVHCs under strictly controlled conditions, and updates risk studies for all SVHCs and where possible replaces them with safer alternatives.

The group-wide reference list for SVHCs was established in 2015. To date, 133 sites (77%) have cross-checked their inventory. Solvay’s proactive approach to anticipating substitution constraints uses three categories (black, red and yellow) to characterize substances’ level of risk management and control:

  • Black list SVHCs: already undergoing a regulatory process of phasing-out or restriction, with a known deadline in at least one given country or zone
  • Red list SVHCs: currently included in regulatory lists of substances that could enter into a process of special authorization or restriction in the medium term
  • Yellow list: substances requiring specific attention (SRA), i.e. substances under scrutiny by authorities, NGOs, scientists, and industries due to their current hazard properties or potential effects.

SVHCs in marketed products

Business units continuously run programs aimed at the proactive management of SVHCs put on the market, ensuring business continuity while respecting legal duties, Solvay's Responsible Care® policies, and sustainable development.

Solvay's programs also aim to have risk studies and to assess possible substitution alternatives for every new SVHC put on the market: the 2020 target is to complete 100% of risk assessments and analyze possible safer alternatives when available (target 2016: 15%). Inventories of SVHCs in marketed products are established annually and Analysis of Safer Alternatives (ASA) is performed accordingly.

Solvay’s objective:



Complete 100% of risk assessment and analysis of possible safer alternatives when available for marketed products containing SVHC

Baseline 2015

Number of Solvay's substances of very high concern (SVHC) placed on the market in 2016



SVHCs in products on the market


For which the SVHCs come from raw materials

Scope: Cytec is not included.

Scope: All Solvay products - except recently acquired Cytec - put on the market, that are either manufactured by Solvay or form part of the composition of the products sold.

Legend: SVHCs manufactured by or forming part of the composition of products sold by Solvay worldwide, currently in Europe's "Candidate List" or "Authorization list" of the REACH process. REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals.


The Candidate List includes substances that are also present in the EU restriction process (annex XVII).


Analysis of Safer Alternatives for potential substitution of SVHC.

All SVHCs (list according to REACH registration and EU Authorization process + EU candidate list)(1)





ASA program for marketed substances(2) (% of completion)


18% (9/49 required assessments)

Hazardous and non-hazardous waste

In the context of the 2015-2020 environmental plan, the focus is on industrial waste, and particularly on hazardous waste that is not disposed of sustainably.

  • Industrial waste: waste stemming from our production activities, including packaging and maintenance waste. Industrial waste is composed of a hazardous and a non-hazardous fraction. Industrial waste excludes waste from our mining activities (541 metric ktons over 2016), which is composed almost exclusively of inert materials backfilled into the mine.
  • Hazardous industrial waste not disposed of sustainably: of the total hazardous industrial waste that is landfilled or incinerated without energy recovery.
Absolute volumes

In 1,000 metric tons







Non-hazardous industrial waste







Hazardous industrial waste







Total hazardous industrial waste







Industrial hazardous waste not disposed of in a sustainable way







Important corrections were made to the hazardous waste data from Chalampé-Butachimie as they were previously not expressed as dry matter.

The increase at Group level between 2015 and 2016 (+2,400 metric tons or +10%) for hazardous industrial waste which is landfilled or incinerated without energy recovery is the resultant effect of many increases and decreases at individual sites, too many to be described.

Solvay’s strategic objective:


- 30%

of industrial hazardous waste not disposed of in a sustainable way

Baseline 2015

The 2020 objective is based on known perimeter changes and on estimates of waste reduction projects and recycling initiatives. The target estimate does not include the contribution from the Cytec Legacy, which is not yet known.

Waste intensity

In kg per € EBITDA







Industrial hazardous waste not disposed of in a sustainable way







Solvay’s 2016 achievement for this type of waste is around 10% behind the 2016 target schedule. It has to be noted that trends in waste indicators should be interpreted with great care as waste might be stocked temporarily on sites, presenting spikes due to turn-around operations or to changes in waste classification (hazardous / non-hazardous).

Solvay has just initiated a corporate waste initiative, in which experts from the corporate environment and the Purchasing & Supply Chain Excellence departments will make an inventory of waste streams and waste management suppliers. The goal is to identify opportunities to reduce waste volumes, to recycle as, for example, by-product), and also to cut overall waste treatment costs. This program should contribute to the improvement of the waste indicator.

Handling SVHCs in operations

Dedicated rules define how SVHCs must be handled in Solvay's industrial operations in order to protect the health of the personnel.