Health of the Planet Strategy
At UCB, we take our responsibility to the planet very seriously. Our goal is to develop and produce medicines for people with severe diseases in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.
This means reducing our carbon footprint, our water consumption and our waste production across the company. We have set clear, absolute targets to measure our progress, focusing on the activities we can control directly.
Our environmental commitments by 2030
UCB applies a precautionary approach in innovation and in the development of new products. We consider not only the benefits of our products but also the potential health and environmental risks in a scientific and transparent manner.
To reduce our impact, we work in 7 key areas:
- Ensuring legal and regulatory compliance
- Using natural resources responsibly
- Enhancing energy efficiency while minimizing carbon footprint
- Promoting green chemistry
- Controlling and reducing air emissions
- Actively managing waste streams
- Applying greener lifecycle management principles.
Sustainability and Stewardship
UCB is committed to improving its carbon footprint, energy efficiency, water conservation and waste control. This benefits our company both environmentally and economically, creating a positive result for local communities. The commitment is illustrated by a transparent reporting system and growing engagement with suppliers and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs).
Our efforts are in line with the ambitions set out in the ‘Paris Agreement’ agreed by world leaders at the 21st session of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP21). We established a multi-disciplinary team to review climate-sensitive manufacturing and behavioral outcomes, potential impacts and strategies to reduce or mitigate risks, while considering business continuity and transparency. This detailed, analytical approach is yielding results in our target areas.
Changing our energy consumption since 2015:
- Overall energy consumption ↓19%
Becoming more energy efficient
In 2020, we implemented various energy saving initiatives at our sites in Bulle (Switzerland) and Braine-l’Alleud (Belgium). These led to a recurrent energy saving of 20 984 Gigajoules, which is nearly 3% of UCB’s scope 1 and scope 2 on-site energy usage
These achievements add to the previous reductions of our energy consumption achieved through the divestiture of the sites in Seymour (U.S.) and Shannon (Ireland) in 2015 and 2016, as well as the divestiture of our site in Monheim (Germany) in 2019.
Scope 1 CO2 emissions due to our car fleet were reduced by 29% compared with 2019 whilst business air travel associated with scope 3 CO2 emissions generated just 5 909 tons of CO2 emissions, a decrease of 87% compared with 2019. This is mostly explained by the dramatic reduction in business travel due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, emissions caused by fuel and energy-related activities and to our Global Supply Chain were reduced by 46% and 13% respectively (compared to 2015 benchmark).
Using renewable energy
In recent years, UCB has focused on sourcing the electricity needed to run our sites and facilities from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass. The percentage of electricity we source from renewable sources globally increased to 95% in 2020, compared to 59% in our benchmark year 2015.
UCB has installed solar panels at our sites in Bulle (Switzerland), Braine-l’Alleud (Belgium), and Brussels (Belgium). These generated 3 042 Gigajoules of electricity in 2020 (0.4% of UCB’s global on-site energy consumption).
We have also started to gradually replace the use of natural gas with gas generated from renewable sources, such as biomethane generated from waste. In 2020, 20% of the natural gas consumed at our manufacturing sites in Braine-l’Alleud and Bulle was replaced by biomethane, reducing CO2 emissions by 3 959 tons.
While our main focus remains our reducing GHG emissions, we also need to compensate for the emissions that we cannot reduce in the short-term. To this end, UCB has partnered with CO2 Logic and WeForest on re-forestation and environmental protection projects since 2017.
In 2020, we continued with reforestation efforts at the Virunga Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Desa’a Forest in Northern Ethiopia, despite challenges created by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and local political instability. Our ambition is to restore an area of 22 000 ha by 2030.
On top of the sequestration of CO2, such projects also create long-term employment opportunities for local populations, helping them to improve their living conditions in the process.
We set our goal to reduce our water withdrawal by 20% by 2030, compared with a 2015 benchmark. Given that our research and development pipeline include several antibodies which involve water-intensive production processes, this is extremely ambitious.
Nevertheless, our water withdrawal decreased by 30% in 2020 (compared to 2015). This was partially achieved following the strategic divestiture of manufacturing sites in Seymour (U.S.), Shannon (Ireland) and Monheim (Germany). In 2020, we also implemented water conservation initiatives, which resulted in a recurrent 12 793 m3 of water saved.
We set our target to reduce waste generation by 25% by 2030, compared with our 2015 benchmark. In 2020, we managed to recover 96% of our waste globally, predominantly through recovery of waste as a fuel to generate energy and recovery and regeneration of solvents, which is slightly higher than the recovery rate of 95% achieved in 2015.