Sustainable offering for customers

Our contribution towards overcoming the world’s environmental challenges is made through our products and services, which enable our customers to run environmentally sound, profitable and socially acceptable businesses.

Outotec’s key strength as a technology leader in the minerals and metals processing industry is the capability to deliver technologies and products that are resource-efficient. Our product portfolio covers hundreds of various plant concepts, processes, pieces of equipment and services. In line with our Technology Policy, we continuously develop our offering according to the principles of sustainable development. Our business process Manage and Develop Products and Technologies takes into account all the activities related to product and technology development from idea management and product development to productization as well as technical and commercial product management.

A corporate level Product Board oversees and steers Outotec’s approach in product and technology development and the related innovation ecosystem. The Corporate Product Board consists of the Executive Board members, Chief Technology Officer (CTO, acting as the chairman), and business unit representatives. Corporate Product board decides, among other things, the sustainability measures and development targets of Outotec’s products. To ensure that our offering is being developed in line with our mission ‘sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources’ we established new business unit specific sub-boards to the Corporate Product Board in 2017.  

The most significant environmental impact of our business activities materializes through our products and services that indirectly reduce various emissions, including the global carbon dioxide emissions. We measure this positive impact to combat climate change, our handprint, by the emissions avoided by the metallurgical industry through the use of seven Outotec technologies.

Our targets and achievements

We follow our performance with four indicators each having 2020 targets as well as annual targets. Our 2017 targets and achievements:

  1. The share of Environmental Goods and Services (OECD criteria) in our order intake was 88% (2016: 90%). Our target is to keep the percentage permanently above 90%.
  2. Customers generate 20% less CO2 emissions when using seven Outotec technologies compared to industry averages and annual baselines. These technologies include our ferrochrome process; copper flash smelting; alumina calcination; ceramic filters; the co-generation of electricity in the ferrochrome process; coated titania anodes; and TankCell 300 flotation cells. Emission reductions are directly proportional to energy savings. In 2017, Outotec’s customers generated 6.2 million tonnes less of CO2 equivalent, representing 22% reduction (GRI 305-5).
  3. Implementation and commercialization of our water recycling concepts. In 2017, we carried out several laboratory scale pilots and four piloting tests for our customers on new water treatment and recycling solution, and we have expanded our offering accordingly. The aim is to commercialize these new solutions in 2018.
  4. Reduction in the use of fossil fuels resulting from Outotec waste-to-energy plants, with targets of 60 MWe and steam boilers that equal 60 MWth. Due to the changes in the business environment, the ordered new plants in design and construction phase were not put in operation in 2017, but we expect them to start operations in 2018 (GRI 302-4).

To achieve these targets, we continuously work to reduce the negative environmental impacts of our technologies through R&D and product development.   

Impacts of our products and services

Although the processing of minerals and metals have negative environmental impacts, through advanced technology the negative impacts can be managed. For this reason, R&D has a central role in Outotec’s business. Developing sustainable offering for our customers is at the core of our sustainability work.

Our solutions utilize primary resources efficiently, reduce energy and water consumption, and produce less waste to landfill and emissions – while also cutting operating costs. We additionally offer solutions for processing secondary resources and turning side streams into saleable products.  Equipment upgrades, plant modernization projects, and our long-term operation and maintenance services all ensure that customers’ plants will run smoothly, safely, and efficiently, with minimum environmental impact at all times.

Outotec’s products and services – if defectively manufactured, installed or used – have the potential to cause health and safety problems for our employees, contractors, and customers as well as indirectly harm the environment and local communities surrounding our customers’ plants. Indirectly, Outotec’s products and services also have an impact on climate change.

To mitigate these risks, we offer training and other services to our customers to help them maintain safe and environmentally sound operation. Furthermore, we train and audit our suppliers to ensure good product quality.

Outotec has a Product Compliance Management process in place to make sure that our products and services reliably meet all applicable safety standards during all phases of the product life-cycle. We follow negative impacts and incidents through our QEHS management and product compliance management systems, as well as through customer feedback collected after each major delivery and in customer surveys. The majority of our offices already use harmonized product compliance management procedures. In 2017, we reviewed and simplified our product compliance management procedures, and started implementing the new procedures globally. The work will continue in 2018.

Compliance with legal requirements is the prime concern in Outotec’s product compliance management work. We maintain an extensive database of product compliance procedures and documents used during business processes, including the development, sales and delivery of our products and services.

We provide relevant information to our customers about the impacts of our products and services, including their energy consumption, emissions, metal recovery rates, and water usage, as well as safety information provided according to industry standards.

In technology development, we focus on increasing resource efficiency – aiming to reduce energy and water consumption, emissions, effluents and waste. In 2017, 79% of our R&D projects were related to initiatives targeting sustainability improvements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2017, we launched three new products for sustainable tailings and water management including Outotec Process Water Recycling Plant concept, Thickened Tailings Plant concept and Dry Tailings Plant. We continued developing modular plant concepts. We have also focused on the development of monitoring, controlling and optimization capabilities for complex industrial processes, together with digital platform development, through several programs run in collaboration with various research partners. From a sustainability perspective, the concept of the redefined plant of the future enables a far more efficient use of resources by optimizing the underlying process with new tools, e.g. machine learning. We have launched several training packages based on simulation of the processes involved.

Customer health and safety (GRI 416-2)

Outotec has not identified any significant negative impacts of its products on employees’ or suppliers’ health and safety or local communities. No fines were imposed in relation to non-compliance with laws and regulations or voluntary codes regarding the use of Outotec products in 2016.

Outotec’s customers can give feedback about our products and services in regular customer surveys and through an external feedback channel and Compliance Helpline on our website. In 2017, no issues were raised regarding Outotec products and services through external feedback channels.

However, the possibility remains that information on indirect negative impacts occurring after the completion of any project delivery may not have been disclosed to Outotec by customers or local communities.

Product safety

Safety issues form an integral part of our operational manuals for industrial processes. Equipment and services delivered by Outotec fulfill safety-related industrial standards such as:

  • ISO 12100 and IEC 62061 for the safety of machinery
  • All safety-related industrial standards applicable where they are utilized
  • Procedures for detecting hazards such as explosion, fire, and lightning, and related IEC 61882 HAZOP studies
  • SIL Allocation Assessments (mandatory at Outotec)
  • The SafExpert risk assessment tool, which ensures that equipment designed by Outotec fulfills all relevant safety standards.

Outotec manuals cover the entire life-cycles of the products delivered, in line with the IEC 82079-1 standard. This means they contain information on transport, installation, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. In addition, we offer our customers maintenance services as part of a wider package. We also routinely provide safety training for our customers as part of our product training services.

Read also about partnering with universities and research institutes 

Related policies

  • Technology Policy
  • Intellectual Property Rights Policy