In 2020, we accelerated the implementation of our G.R.O.W. strategy and the transformation of the Group. We also unveiled our Solvay One Planet sustainability roadmap, which includes ten bold environmental and societal strategic objectives to be achieved by 2030 to help us address our impacts related to Climate, Resources and Better Life. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, we made progress on all our objectives; we even raised the bar by committing to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Underlying EBITDA growth
Performance 2020: €1,945 million (-16.2%)
- Down 16% for the full year 2020, as a result of lower sales volumes, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. The decisive cost measures we took in 2020, together with our pricing policy, have enabled us to contain the decline in EBITDA to 14%, on an organic1 basis. Resilient demand in healthcare, consumer goods, personal care, and electronics contributed to mitigate the sharp decrease in civil aero and oil & gas volumes.
- The EBITDA margin was 21.7% for the year (1% less versus 2019). These results reflect both the quality and resilience of the portfolio, and the delivery of cost mitigation actions.
Free Cash Flow2
Performance 2020: €963 million (+58.8%)
- The strong improvement of the Free cash flow reflects the record cash generation in 2020 (7th consecutive quarter with positive FCF). It is due to significant structural improvement and continued discipline in working capital management, reduced cash taxes, lower capex and pension cash costs.
Align greenhouse gas emissions3 with Paris Agreement and commit to SBTi
- Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 20% in 2020. The structural decrease (unrelated to the global economic slowdown) since 2018 is 8%, which is about twice the annual average required to be in line with the Paris Agreement. This improvement is mainly due to several climate-energy transition projects.
- We continued to intensify our involvement in the production of renewable electricity: in 2020, twenty sites derived part of their electricity supply from renewable sources, such as solar or wind. This represents a total of 0.11 Mt CO2 eq. avoided.
compared to 2018, at constant scope
Phase out coal
wherever renewable alternatives exist
- Fuel consumption from non-renewable sources decreased in 2020, mainly due to the lower level of activity resulting from the Covid-19 crisis. The use of solid fuels decreased by 15.6% compared to 2018, in line with our Solvay One Planet objective of phasing out coal by 2030. Over the same period, renewable fuel consumption increased by 1 petajoule (PJ).
- In 2020, eight sites derived part of their heat production from biomass, which represents a total of 6 PJ.
compared to 2018
Reduce negative pressure on biodiversity4
- In 2020, Solvay reduced its pressure on biodiversity by 12% compared to 2018.
- We were one of 30 companies out of 65 that passed the test to receive the recognition from Act4Nature International coalition, an initiative that encourages corporate action for the protection, enhancement, and restoration of biodiversity.
compared to 2018
Increase sustainable solutions
- By the end of 2020, 52% of our sales in the assessed portfolio of product-application combinations* are qualified as sustainable solutions, which is stable compared to the previous year.
- Extensive cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessments were performed for 96% of our products put on the market, compared with 94% last year.
* according to our Sustainable Portfolio Management methodology
of Group sales
Increase circular economy5
- We have increased by 1pp, to 5% of the Group’s sales, the part of products manufactured with bio-based raw materials, recycled-based raw materials, or renewable energy. We are using the Circulytics® tool, co-developed with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to monitor the deployment of circularity throughout our businesses.
More than double
compared to 2018
Reduce non-recoverable industrial waste
- In 2020, we reduced our non recoverable industrial waste (both hazardous and non-hazardous) by 27% compared to 2018.
- In 2020, we launched a global waste tender with the ambition to reduce waste spending. We will build partnerships with key suppliers that will focus on innovative ways to treat our waste in a sustainable manner and promote material valorization where possible.
compared to 2018
Reduce intake of freshwater
- Freshwater intake has been stable since 2018.
- Two water reduction projects implemented in 2020 at our plant in Devnya, Bulgaria, have already resulted in a net freshwater intake reduction (impact of covid excluded) of 1.5 million cubic meters compared to 2019.
compared to 2018
Medical treatment accident rate6
- In 2020, the medical treatment accident rate (MTAR) decreased by 26% compared to 2018. This improvement is due to the Group’s “Creating Safety” approach for employees and contractors, and to the reduced number of working hours, notably linked to the lower activity from the pandemic. To adapt to the crisis and ensure a safe working environment, we took immediate measures including a teleworking plan that involved more than 10,000 people. Stringent safety protocols were implemented to secure the health of everyone on industrial sites.
Accelerate inclusion & diversity
Parity in mid & senior management
- In 2020, the number of women in mid & senior management increased by approximately 1pp, to 24.6%, compared to 2018. To foster improvement in this area, we have implemented a specific recruiting requirement that a woman must be one of the top three candidates for any mid or senior management position.
of women in mid &
Foster gender equality
Extend maternity leave time and open it to all co-parents
- Solvay’s new maternity, paternity, and co-parent leave policy which increases leave from 14 to 16 weeks was signed in 2020 by the Solvay Global Forum. It is available to any co-parent regardless of gender and it also includes parents who adopt.
as of January 1st, 2021
1: Organic growth excludes forex conversion and scope effects
2: Free cash flow to Solvay shareholders is the free cash flow after payment of net interests, coupons of perpetual hybrid bonds and dividends to non-controlling interests. This represents the cash flow available to Solvay shareholders, to pay their dividend and/or to reduce the net financial debt.
3: Total emissions (scopes 1 and 2)
4: In number of animal or plant species potentially impacted in one year. ReCiPe method for biodiversity impact assessment.
5: Circular economy indicators are still in the development phase, in the frame of the Circulytics® approach, co-developed with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
6: Rate of accidents with medical treatment, with or without work stoppage; employees and contractors.