Environment, Health & Safety Affairs

Responsibility for the environment as well as our employees’ health and safety is a key component of the SGL Group’s corporate culture. High standards in these areas are pre-requisites for our company’s sustainable economic success. SGL undertakes to create secure and healthy working conditions for its employees, and to minimize the impact its business activities have on the environment. The company has set this out in binding terms in its internal Code of Conduct and the EHSA policy (Environment, Health & Safety Affairs). A Code of Conduct for Suppliers and Sub-contractors has also been in place since 2015. According to this Code they are obliged to behave legally, ethically and sustainably.

The central corporate EHSA organization coordinates all group-wide activities for environmental protection and health and safety at work, sets uniform standards and audits the progress in cooperation with local EHSA representatives. It reports to the SGL Group’s Board of Management once per quarter, informing it of the current developments.

In view of the EU directive to register, evaluate, authorize ande restrict chemical substances (REACH), exchanging information on the use of substances is an integral part of SGL Group’s collaboration with suppliers and customers. As a result, in line with statutory requirements, information on minimizing risk is exchanged with customers and suppliers. In this regard, we provide our customers with relevant product information such as safety data sheets for all substances and products produced by SGL Group in an internal standardized global web-based system.

We have further developed the company’s set of values with the fundamental reorientation of the SGL Group, which will be published at the end of May 2018. Particular highlights are the environmental impact of our products, which we have identified as being a key issue as part of our materiality analysis. We plan to increasingly focus on this issue in future.

Energy consumption and CO2 emissions

The manufacture of carbon fibers and specialty graphites requires a large amount of energy. This is due, in particular to the use of special high-temperature technologies, which give the products their special material characteristics. In some process stages temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius are required. The bulk of the SGL Group’s energy consumption is thus due to creating heat and also includes the thermal cleaning of emissions. As a company using a high amount of energy SGL has special responsibilities with regard to climate change and the environment. Consuming energy is directly linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2. The SGL Group’s CO2 emissions are primarily scope-1 emissions which are created during combustion processes, and scope-2 emissions which are due to the company’s electricity consumption. SGL pays attention to ensure that its processes are becoming increasingly energy efficient for economic reasons. Energy costs account for a large proportion of production costs. Fluctuations in the price of energy can have both a positive or a negative impact on earnings.

The top-level target for energy management is to use energy efficiently and to thus ensure constant improvements. The objective spans all types of energy and focuses on energy-efficient equipment and processes. It is set out in the EHSA guideline for energy management. This underscores the company’s particular undertaking to take responsibility for protecting the environment and implement sustainability activities. The policy was passed in 2015 and applies for all locations worldwide. SGL also undertakes to constantly improve its energy efficiency in its Code of Conduct.

Since December 2015 all of the relevant European locations in the SGL Group have had an Energy Management System according to ISO 50001. Certification was performed by DQS GmbH and DEKRA. The non-European location in Moses Lake has also been certified to ISO 50001. Introduction is planned in 2019 for the locations in Gardena and Arkadelphia. Each location plans projects to save energy and improve energy-related performance, and implements these. The projects are evaluated in regular internal and external audits and also in the annual management review. Local energy management policies and activities also consider country-specific laws.

The EHSA Steering Committee is responsible for controlling and monitoring energy management at all locations. The individual production locations and business units are responsible for concrete implementation of the activities and controlling their success. For this purpose, each location has an energy officer, who reports to the location’s managers or management at least once per year. Quarterly reports are performed at the location in Meitingen. Progress in reducing energy consumption is controlled once per year as part of inter-company tests. These tasks are performed by correspondingly trained internal auditors from other SGL locations. External audits are performed at least once every three years by an accredited certification institution.

As a result of the wide variety and complexity of the product range, SGL has only defined specific quantity-based targets for its energy management at select locations. In future, SGL also wants to form product families at additional sites, and add annual energy targets. Furthermore, SGL will also derive targets for reducing CO2 emissions.

In order to constantly reduce energy consumption, SGL implements various measures, and over the past few years it has constantly invested in equipment with BAT technology (Best Available Technology). These maximum standards were created together with the ECGA (European Carbon and Graphite Association). Investments focus on regenerative thermal oxidization. As part of this technology, exhaust gases are thermally cleansed of hazardous substances and the energy required in this regard is regained from the exhaust gas to a certain extent. An additional activity is purchasing green electricity. At the Wackersdorf site, we procured our energy from renewable sources in 2017.

SGL also works together with external partners as part of its energy management. One example of this is the energy efficiency networks at our locations in Meitingen and Bonn. These are based on an initiative by the federal government, and serve the voluntary, systematic, and target-oriented exchange of experience among companies from one region or industry. For example, in Meitingen in 2017, SGL brought an energy project to life with the local municipality and additional partners. In so doing, the company undertook to provide a local new housing area with low-temperature waste heat for their home heating free of charge for 20 years. This heat is created in the plant when equipment and high-temperature furnaces are cooled. Thanks to this project, the local community can avoid emissions, and thus saves using primary energy by using the waste heat instead.

SGL would like its employees to become aware of energy as an issue, and to develop competences that they can actively use to reduce energy consumption. The company offered training activities for this purpose in 2017, and implemented internal communication campaigns. For example, all the parties in Bonn were trained on energy management as part of their annual security instructions. In addition, four so-called EnMS meetings are held there each year. At these meetings, employees from various departments meet, and discuss current issues for energy management. Employees at our Meitingen location received information on heating offices to save energy as part of a poster campaign in 2017. In addition, at our locations in Bonn and Meitingen, SGL distributed flyers from the Deutsche Energie Agentur (German Energy Agency). These flyers included tips for efficient office lighting, and using devices such as computers and printers in a manner that saves energy.

Environmental data 1)




Energy consumption




in gigawatt hours (GWh)




thereof oil and gas




thereof electricity




thereof steam 4)



– 2%

in relation to economic output
(MWh per €1,000 in sales revenue) 2)



– 3%

CO₂-emissions 3) 4)




in thousands of tons (kt)




thereof direct




thereof indirect




in relation to economic output
(t per €1,000 in sales revenue) 2)



– 5%

1)  Data include pro-rata consolidated entities

2)  Adjusted sales revenue (excluding price and currency effects); base year 2016

3) The calculation of CO2-emissions is based on "Greenhouse gas reporting - conversion factors 2017" of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Gov. UK for direct emissions (Scope 1) and steam (Scope 2) as well as on "2017 CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion online data service" of the International Energy Agency (IEA) for indirect emissions (electricity Scope 2).

4)  Data collection was expanded by the category steam

Health and safety at work and health protection

The SGL Group relies on having a highly performing workforce for its entrepreneurial success. As a result, our employees’ health and safety is a central issue for our company. This is set out in the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics as well as the EHSA policy which applies worldwide.

SGL has set itself the target of consistently preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. Laws and internal guidelines are to be upheld without exception in all production processes and for all products. It is the responsibility of the company’s management and each individual employee to ensure safe working conditions. The aim is also to permanently improve the existing safety precautions. In 2017 the target frequency for accidents was 2.25 accidents per million working hours. This target was slightly exceeded with an actual result of 2.5. However, the frequency of accidents was once again very low. Global activities are to be put in place in 2018, such as the Safety Pledge Program, in order to keep accidents at a low level or to reduce this rate still further. The focus is to be placed on the two locations taken over from the joint-venture Benteler SGL, Ried and Ort in Austria. The accident frequency at these locations is currently higher than in the SGL Group.

The EHSA unit supports the business units in setting up management systems and process security, and further developing these. Concrete implementation is carried out by the respective business unit and management at that location. The EHSA Steering Committee meets four times per year, and is responsible for managing and supervising the health and safety at work activities. The committee comprises the Operations heads of the business units. It is managed by SGL’s CEO Jürgen Köhler personally. In addition, SGL has a global EHSA network comprising the EHSA organization and the local EHS managers. It exchanges information on top-level issues and aims to ensure that all of the statutory regulations are upheld and that corresponding systems are put in place at the respective locations. All of the executives also must ensure that the employees in their area of responsibility receive training and support for safety issues.

SGL also uses various incentive systems to actively include its employees in preventing accidents, and considers their ideas for combating the risk of accidents. The issue of health and safety at work is anchored in the annual targets at the Meitingen facility. This location runs a campaign once per year. In 2017 this was a campaign on work and transport safety.

If an accident at work does happen, this is recorded in the group-wide Incident Management System. The cause of the incident is identified in a systematic process, and proposals for improvement are derived. In so doing, we take into account which methods have already worked in preventing accidents. In addition, the EHSA organization issues a safety report and relevant statistics to the Board of Management, managers of the business units, and the locations as well as the EHS managers once per month. In so doing, it reviews compliance with the EHSA policy, and in the case of negative developments it implements counter-measures immediately.

A key activity in attaining the objectives is the Safety Pledge Program. As part of this initiative, SGL asks its employees to make their own suggestions, irrespective of their hierarchy level, as to how their personal safety at their place of work could be improved. Participation is voluntary. The respective team’s superior collect all of the proposals from his employees and reviews these. If required, he supports his employees in implementing these. One year later they both meet again. Then they exchange information on the extent to which the employee has been able to realize his own suggestion, and what has improved. This initiative was initially introduced in the USA in 2015, and has now taken place for the second time there. It has been in place in China since 2016, and in Europe since 2017. During the period under review, 75% of production employees in China participated in this initiative.

SGL also holds regular employee training sessions as an additional activity. The company aims to increase its employees’ awareness of safety relevant issues, and actively prevent accidents. At present, no information is collected on the number of training sessions and the number of participants.

During the period under review various activities were implemented at the facility in Meitingen on the subject of transport safety. In so doing, SGL aims to sensitize its employees for risks on the way to work. The training offered by the company also included a one-day driving safety training session for employees.

Health and safety at work and health protection are of great importance, not only at SGL itself. The company attaches great value to the corresponding standards at its business partners, and considers health and safety at work aspects when selecting suppliers. The code of content for suppliers and subcontractors stipulates that these must ensure their employees’ health and safety at all of their workstations, and set up a management system for constant improvement.

Process safety

Safe production processes are a material factor in preventing events such as accidents, fires or explosions. People and the environment can be substantially damaged as a result of such events. At SGL this could result in possible extended periods of production downtime and lower quality. In addition, the company would be responsible for the resulting damage, and have to rectify this. As a result SGL pursues the target of establishing safe production processes and constantly improving its safety culture.

As part of its entrepreneurial duty of care, the SGL Group has a global Process Safety Management Policy in place since 2017. As part of the policy, SGL aims to introduce a management system for process safety at all of its locations. The system includes various elements such as process safety analyses, a training program for operators and contracted employees, investigating accidents and the control of counter-measures. The EHSA unit supports the business units in setting up management systems for process security, and further developing these. It task is also to monitor compliance with the policy and implementing corresponding counter-measures in the event of violations. Process safety is also an issue at the quarterly meetings of the EHSA Steering Committee (see Health and safety at work and health protection).

In addition, SGL uses an Incident Management System for workplace and process safety (see Health and safety at work and health protection). As a result, each accident is precisely categorized. This ensures that the company can identify whether the incident was due to problems with workplace safety or process safety.

Since 2002 SGL has been using a group-wide uniform Risk Management System in order to minimize risks in its production processes. In so doing, the company analyzes the extent and risk potential of crisis incidents. In addition it calculates the economic consequences of these incidents such as the costs of rectifying environmental damage or lost sales as a result of production downtime. SGL implemented a total of 30 activities from 2016 to 2017 in order to improve process safety. These were mostly technical activities for repairs and maintenance, and also organizational improvements.

SGL Group performs annual audits in cooperation with the insurance company FM Global, which include a safety analysis of all processes and systems and simulation of stress scenarios. The results are evaluated and documented. If required, concrete activity plans are put in place. In 2017, as a result of the analysis, SGL introduced weekly tours at the Verdello facility in order to prevent damage. The company has installed a shut-off system in the main gas line in Gardena. A total of 14 facilities were audited in 2017. 11 of these facilities were awarded the Highly Protected Risk status - the highest possible safety level. In 2017 a total of nine accidents and serious near misses connected with process safety were registered at all of the facilities around the world. There were 11 in the previous year.

Resource management (waste and water)

As part of SGL’s business activities, waste products from carbon and residual materials are produced. Both carbon and also the residual materials produced in most of the production processes are highly recyclable. The company primarily uses water to cool production equipment. 

SGL complies with all of the relevant statutory requirements when using resources and disposing of waste. In addition, company pursues the objective of using resources efficiently, and avoiding impacting the environment as far as possible. In this way, water consumption and the production of waste should be constantly reduced. Regarding waste, the SGL Group’s principle is: avoidance is better than recycling and recycling is better than disposal. Waste that cannot be prevented can often be reused in other products or at other locations. For example, recycled carbon fibers can be used as fleece textiles for automotive production. SGL uses water carefully, and uses secondary circuits and cooling equipment wherever this makes economic sense. As water generally does not come directly into contact with production, it is not contaminated, and can be discharged into rivers after use in some cases.

SGL has set out how it deals with resources in the EHSA policy and the policy on EHSA training. The Code of Conduct for suppliers and subcontractors also includes information on this issue. It obliges its recipients to obtain the requisite licenses, to recycle, and to avoid waste and emissions of hazardous substances into the environment. Once per month, together with the local EHS officer, the EHSA organization collects data at all of the facilities which shows the use of resources and generation of waste. Water consumption is stated for each water source, and a distinction is made between hazardous and nonhazardous waste.

Environmental data 1)




Water requirement




Total (millions m3)




thereof from Company wells



– 14%

thereof from rivers




thereof from public water supply




in relation to economic output
(m3 per €1,000 in sales revenue) 2)



– 9%

Waste volume




in thousands of tons (kt)



– 1%

thereof hazardous waste



– 24%

in relation to economic output
(kg per €1,000 in sales revenue) 2)



– 13%

1)   Data include pro-rata consolidated entities

2)  Adjusted sales revenue (excluding price and currency effects); base year 2016

SGL performed local activities and initiatives at various locations in 2017 in order to sensitize its employees for dealing with resources and waste responsibly. For example, in Meitingen SGL used posters to provide information on paper waste, and urged its employees to actively contribute to reducing this waste.


Group Compliance


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