Corporate Social Responsibility at Stahl: The Stahl Sustainability Standard

Corporate Social Responsibility at Stahl: The Stahl Sustainability Standard

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Being a leader in our field, our commitment to living up to the environmental and social responsibilities is evident. Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are major challenges in our industry. To guide us on our way, we have developed the Stahl Sustainability Standard. Part of our commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), the Stahl Sustainability Standard is based on 5 focus areas.


The 5 focus areas of sustainability at Stahl

The Stahl Sustainability Standard covers the things that support a truly socially responsible business. The Standard is based on these strategic drivers – the 5 focus areas – for environmental and social responsibility:

Watch the video to learn more about our 5 Focus Areas.

Raw Materials: Phasing out restricted substances by 2020

Using the right raw materials is pivotal to achieving our sustainability objectives. By eliminating restricted substances, and using more sustainable raw materials, we pro-actively bring about positive changes in the industry.

As a company, we are committed to help lead the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020, and we are a value chain affiliate of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation. A positive list of Stahl’s ZDHC-compliant products (more than 1000) are publicly available on the ZDHC Gateway portal.


Stahl MRSL
Besides following the ZDHC Foundation’s Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL), we also operate our own Stahl Restricted Substances List (RSL). This lists substances we believe will be restricted by the industry or deemed undesirable in the future. This more restrictive list has implications for our suppliers, and we only work with suppliers who have demonstrated full commitment to sustainability. As partners working together, we look for competitive and durable alternatives to products and services that can harm the environment or may be non-compliant in the future. Today, we are actively evaluating new raw materials, such as:


Responsible Operations: For our safety, our health and our environment

Stahl considers the health and safety of its employees to be its primary responsibility. And to operate in a way that has minimal impact on our environment.


Safety, Health and Environment (SHE)
Our Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) policy is to manage our activities without hurting anyone, annoying our neighbors or harming the environment. We believe that 'prevention is better than cure,' that a safe working environment is a collective endeavor and we protect our colleagues and each other. Stahl has a very good track record when it comes to SHE standards.


CO2 emissions, water usage, energy and waste
Stahl is committed to the goals outlined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. In 2015 we set an internal target to reduce scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions by 10% by 2020, and we expects to reach this goal ahead of time. Our improvements in CO2 emissions are driven by sourcing green energy at our European manufacturing sites and by investments designed to realize long term efficiencies.

Stahl is continuously upgrading its production sites and laboratory facilities in order to achieve energy, waste and water efficiencies that lead to a reduced environmental footprint. We report and monitor our activities on a monthly basis and yearly in our Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report.


Trusted Partnerships: Driving change

By stimulating cooperation in the supply chain, we believe sustainability evolves as a consequence. Stahl is working on a wide variety of projects linked to transparency and sustainability with industry associations, NGOs, universities and other strategic partners.

Our trusted partners for corporate social responsibility and sustainability include the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) foundation and bluesign® to eliminate or replace hazardous substances from the supply chain, the international civil society organization Solidaridad, the Leather Working Group and TEWEGA.


Innovative Solutions: Low-impact products

We invest heavily in our R&D labs around the world. With 11 R&D centers around the world, employing over 100 technical staff, Stahl’s product research is aimed at providing high-performance solutions that reduce environmental impact. Either by using renewable/bio-based raw materials in our own products or by designing products free of identified restricted substances, that reduce the environmental footprint of our customers.

Our innovative solutions for low-impact products include:

Besides the development of low-impact products and the replacement of non-renewable sources by renewable content, we also look at the end-of-life management. It is important to understand how the products we help to make are managed when they are at the end of their life to understand how our products can play a role in the transition towards a circular economy. Read more about how we use and create Responsible Chemistry to meet tomorrow’s needs of our customers and society.


People & Society: Our people, public-private partnerships and education

We care about our environment, our communities and our people. Education, personal growth and innovation are key to our sustainability strategy and why they are central to our activities within our People & Society focus area.


Our people
Our success begins with our people, and we encourage trust, honesty, personal growth, innovation, creativity and teamwork. As an innovative company, personal growth and knowledge are pivotal to us.

Our Code of Conduct demands that we not only respect human rights and the environment within our company, but that our partners in the supply chain do the same. Stahl’s has a personal Code of Conduct for Employees and a Business Code of Conduct for the company as an entity, including our suppliers. The latter defines our commitment to the highest standard of social and environmental responsibility and ethical conduct, and we ask our business partners to comply with these principals.

We employ over 2,000 people from 61 nationalities in 27 countries at 13 manufacturing sites, 11 R&D centers and 38 technical centers, and we are an equal opportunity employer. 85% of our employees have permanent contracts.


Public-private partnerships
Stahl is engaged in several public-private partnerships focus on reducing water pollution in the tanning sector. In 2018, we launched a public-private partnership in Ethiopia with local leather associations and international NGOs, including Solidaridad and CSR Netherlands and the year before we set-up a five-year program in Kanpur, India together with Solidaridad and PUM. In cooperation with UNIDO, we give sustainability seminars in India. With these seminars Stahl aimed to familiarize local professionals with its sustainability philosophy for the industry and practical solutions for improving environmental stewardship.


Stahl Campus®: Promoting good practices and transparency
Stahl is committed to filling the talent gap observed in some of the markets that we serve by actively seeking ways to educate and train university students, NGOs, brands, suppliers, distributors, customers and other stakeholders in the supply chain. Stahl Campus® is the global knowledge center established to achieve this. Started in 2014 in Waalwijk (Netherlands) and established in León (Mexico) in 2015 and Guangzhou (China) in 2016, Stahl Campus® was extended in 2018 to Kanpur, India. The goal is to promote good practices and transparency throughout the supply chain by hosting trainees in Stahl’s state-of-the-art laboratories, and to strengthen knowledge via theoretical and practical training modules.

Read more about Stahl Campus®.


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Corporate Social Responsibility at Stahl: The Stahl Sustainability Standard
Michael Costello
Director of Sustainability