Sandvik: Employees are 'crucial' for embedding sustainability


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EXCLUSIVE: As it develops a roadmap for its ambitious new 2030 targets on carbon and resources, engineering giant Sandvik’s group head of sustainability believes that input from employees will be “crucial” for making the shifts needed to align with the Paris Agreement.

Sandvik may not be a well-known name here in the UK, but the business is one of the largest in its sector globally with more than 42,000 employees and operations in 160 countries. It operates across its three key business areas - mining and rock technology; machining and materials technology – which have historically been considered carbon-intense and hard-to-abate.

Last month, the company unveiled a sweeping new set of sustainability pledges that it claims will represent a “shift on climate and sustainability. Set under the frameworks of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the pledges include commitments to halve Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions and achieve 90% circularity across all materials and projects.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Sandvik’s group head of sustainability Ulrika Wedberg detailed the first steps the company will take towards these aims. For reducing carbon, she explained, electrifying fleets, sourcing more renewable electricity, using biogas for heating and investments in energy efficiency systems will be key.

But perhaps a more unusual facet of Sandvik’s approach will be the creation of an “ideas hub” – a digital system whereby all staff can submit sustainability ideas and innovative concepts. Sandvik is targeting 100,000 submissions to the hub by 2030 and, according to Wedberg, is already well on its way.

“Normally, when you give people a new task, they tell you they are busy and can’t take on another duty as well – but when we presented our goals, there was an enormous attendance and we could see right away that people were keen to put forward their own ideas,” she said.

“It’s very much in the DNA of engineers to ask how their work can make customers more productive and, over time, they’ve increasingly been focused on decreasing carbon intensity as well. These two aims are not different – producing less waste, using fewer resources and becoming less dependent on diesel are all cost-cutting opportunities now.”

To incentivize the use of the hub, Sandvik will issue prizes to teams on an annual basis, under categories such as biggest carbon reduction and greatest positive health and wellbeing impact. Innovations which win these accolades will be trialled internally as a starting-point before Sandvik decides whether they should become a new business stream or be open-sourced.

According to Wedberg, the launch of the hub represents the next step in Sandvik’s drive to move sustainability away from being a “separate business function” and make it a “business-as-usual” priority.

“We see sustainability as a business advantage, and to make that work to the fullest, it needs to be integrated everywhere,” she said. “It’s crucial that everyone knows what part they can play, within their role.”…