Behind the high performance ingredients and technologies in some of the largest, most successful industrial and consumer brands in the world, lies the name Croda.
Sustainability is in Croda’s DNA. It results in the ambition to make a net positive contribution to climate, land, and people by 2030. An ambitious strategy, that is strongly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Because Croda is active in many value chains with a diverse range of products, developing a profile in sustainability is very market-specific. Therefore, the focus points within sustainability vary.
Within Croda’s overall strategy, Croda Crop Care has researched what contribution the agri division can make to the SDGs and how its activities fit within these SDGs. We helped Croda Crop Care choose and operationalize the SDGs. Our SDG experts Anne-Marie and Nick especially wanted to make the link with Croda’s sustainability strategy: what does sustainability mean for Croda Crop Care? What steps can the company take to increase its positive impact across the board? Where do opportunities present themselves? Through interactive sessions with the Croda Crop Care sustainability team, all 17 goals and 169 subgoals were evaluated. In a dialogue led by us, we discussed which SDGs to choose, why, and what the underlying core messages are.
We spoke with Marion Smorenburg, Global Head of Corporate & Marketing Communications at Incotec (seed enhancement specialist and part of Croda) and Sustainalize colleague Anne-Marie, about the challenges & learnings in this journey.
Challenge: selecting the most relevant SDGs together
“For Croda Crop Care, of which Incotec is part of, this was the first in-depth introduction to the SDGs. As part of Croda’s ‘net positive ambitions’ for the next 10 years, organization-wide relevant SDGs had already been identified. The selection was still quite high, and needed to be further elaborated into: what does this mean for us as a division and how can we sharpen our sustainability strategy using the SDGs?” Marion explains. “A challenge, with the Croda entities carrying out the varying business activities, but with the same goal. How do you link this to the SDGs?”
“It’s difficult to implement the SDGs properly. What is relevant, where do you act and where not? We really needed external validation and guidance. Sustainalize helped us tremendously.” – Marion Smorenburg (Croda Crop Care)
“It did seem quite a challenge to reach consensus within Croda Crop Care beforehand, but it actually went surprisingly smoothly in the two workshops. Even in the second workshop, which was held online because of COVID-19,” adds Anne-Marie. This required some preparatory work. “It’s one of the most enjoyable challenges in our profession; learning to understand the company in a very short period of time and becoming familiar with the subject matter. Croda’s business is complex and highly technical, but a deep understanding of it is essential to link the strategy with the SDGs”.
“Incotec operates in a niche market. What we do exactly, and where we differ from our clients, is sometimes difficult to explain. It is also very difficult to grasp for external parties from outside the seed sector. On this area, Sustainalize greatly exceeded, because they understood the essence of our profession quickly. I don’t experience that very often.” – Marion Smorenburg (Croda Crop Care)
Focus on where you can really make a difference
So how does Croda Crop Care pick up on the selected SDGs? “Our playing field is bordered; it really helps to realize where your main influence lies. For us, this means translating the 2030 ambitions for Croda as a whole and breaking them down at divisional level. We cannot contribute to all three overarching Croda goals to the same extent. When choices must be made, that’s your test: not just looking at sales- and profit targets, but at our purpose and our sustainability ambition, the agreements made and where we can make a difference together. What does this require of us,” Marion explains. “On a practical level, purpose and sustainability ambitions must be incorporated into annual plans and long-term goals. In addition, we are going to share it with everyone within the company. From the operator to the R&D department that researches microplastic-free coatings internally, to our external stakeholders; everyone needs to know which direction we want to take and where we can make a difference. It’s up to us to do that.”
A future full of challenges: work to be done
“Sector-wide, we see challenges to which we will make a positive contribution in the coming years. Earlier this year, for example, we launched our first microplastic-free seed coating for sunflowers. A lot remains to be done, but many more products such as this will follow. In addition, chemical crop protection will be less permitted in the future due to environmental considerations. For biological crop protection, you will have to work with living organisms and one of the many challenges is that you will have to apply this to living seed,” Marion says. Not simple, but certainly promising. “Then we have the overarching challenges. Think of climate change, the growing world population, declining agricultural land, increasing amount of diseases, pests and plagues, changing weather patterns, and the fact that sufficient food must be produced. How do you combine these factors? How can the right seed treatment ensure that crops grow optimally in drier periods? There is plenty of work to be done. We are far from finished!” – Marion Smorenburg concludes.
“In the interactive sessions, the dialogue was conducted. Everyone was deeply involved; we were constructive, despite the differences. Sustainalize knows how to take the debate to a higher level.” – Marion Smorenburg (Croda Crop Care)
Croda is a UK listed company that manufactures, produces, and sells specialty chemicals in four market sectors: Performance Technologies, Industrial Chemicals, Personal Care and Life Sciences. Part of Life Sciences is Croda Crop Care, which focuses on optimizing seeds, growth, and the resilience of plants under the brands Incotec, Croda Crop Protection, and Plant Impact. In this way, Croda Crop Care works towards optimal results with maximum efficiency of raw materials.