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Sustainability

Vopak aims to create value for all our stakeholders and society. For us, sustainability – or our approach to responsible business conduct – is about caring for people, planet and profit.

We enable people to cook, heat their homes, go to their jobs and travel the world. We help keep airplanes flying, cars driving and houses maintained. We enable factories to operate and companies to manufacture products that we use in our daily lives. We realize that our long-term success depends on our ability to innovate and respond to changing demands from both the market and society.

Today, the vital products we store are chemicals, oil, gases, biofuels and edible oils; in future, we may well store products like hydrogen and CO2. While the products in our tanks are crucial to people’s daily lives and the economy, they can endanger their health and the environment if stored or handled inappropriately. This comes with a huge responsibility; our role is to ensure safe, clean and efficient storage. Our commitment to care extends to all our stakeholders, including our own people, our customers and the communities in which we operate.

Vopak WeConnect Foundation

Vopak encourages its employees to take an active part in their local communities. Through the Vopak WeConnect Foundation, employees work on projects to help young people, alongside community groups and NGOs. Set up in 2016, Vopak WeConnect has a clear mission: to open up professional horizons for young people, to increase their ‘job readiness’ and to inspire them to work with others across cultures, languages and social backgrounds.  

 

Our moral compass

Vopak Values
The Vopak Values are the foundation of our approach to business. It’s vital that our employees, contractors and joint venture partners understand and share these values. Care for Safety, Health & Environment; Integrity; Team Spirit; Commitment; Agility.

These values are embedded in our policies and frameworks, including our Code of Conduct. They act as a guide to decision-making, and serve as the company’s ‘moral compass’.

Code of Conduct
Vopak’s Code of Conduct sets out our expectations with regard not only to safety and the environment, but also to human rights, non-discrimination, fraud and corruption. The Code also includes provisions on anti-money laundering and compliance with international sanctions. These are important topics for Vopak – we operate worldwide, including in countries with high risk of corruption and poorer human rights. The Code is applicable to all Vopak employees and contractors – we provide regular training in the Code to ensure high standards.

Whistleblower
The Vopak Whistle-blower policy encourages and enables employees and other stakeholders, including contractors, suppliers and neighbors, to raise serious concerns within the company, acting in good faith. This regards in particular irregularities, behavior and other issues which are not in line a breach of the Vopak Values Integrity and Care for SHE, the Vopak Code of Conduct or the Vopak Supplier Code. The position of the Whistleblower who reported a suspected irregularity in accordance with the Whistle blower Rules and who has acted in good faith, shall not be affected in any way as a result of the notification. Employees shall report suspected irregularities and/or other issues to their management and/or to the Trusted Person. Other stakeholders shall report to the Trusted Person. The Trusted Person can be reached at whistleblower@vopak.com.

Sustainability Policy

We are committed to minimizing the negative effects of our business activities on people’s safety, health and well-being. We do this by maximizing personal and operational safety, and working hard to reduce our environmental footprint, including our carbon footprint. We invest in training, talent development and a diverse and inclusive workforce. We contribute to a more sustainable economy by introducing more sustainable technologies, processes and products, and facilitating the energy transition. Our choices today must contribute to our long-term relevance in society and the well-being and development of future generations. Our ambition is to be the sustainability leader in our industry and to be as good as the safest and most sustainable customers.

Safety and health
We handle hazardous products – so, safety is our number one priority. We have company-wide safety principles, the Vopak fundamentals. Care for safety, health and the environment is built into both our Code of Conduct and our Supplier Code. We provide rigorous safety training to those working at Vopak locations. Vopak’s safety fundamentals include guidelines on transferring products, on permits, motorized vehicles, ‘lock-out, tag-out’, managing change and working in confined spaces and at heights, a common cause of accidents in the industry. As a minimum, we comply with laws and regulations. We systematically discuss and report work-related injuries, fatalities and illnesses, as well as safety incidents like spills and fires. We are currently rolling out our Trust & Verify program. The aim of this program is to improve our overall Safety, Health & Environment (SHE) performance, to further increase awareness of safety issues, and to encourage a culture of personal accountability throughout the company.

We are also bringing in more technology. Technology helps us identify risks sooner, often in ‘real time’. This gives us the opportunity to intervene early and prevent incidents before they happen; it also allows us to work more remotely, and reduce the number of employees and contractors potentially at risk. All incidents – no matter how small – are reported, as are all near-misses. Reports are made directly in Enablon, our incident reporting system. Alerts are sent out following incidents, and every quarter management discusses safety performance and ‘lessons learned’.

Environment
We work to minimize damage to the environment through harmful emissions, for example, or accidental spills. We have a clear responsibility, in this respect, to the communities in which we operate. Vopak has a robust environmental management process. We use API RP 754 –the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practice for the refinery and petrochemical industries. Our Environmental Management System is included in Vopak’s internal standards (as part of our Environmental Impact Assessment and Soil & Groundwater Management). As with safety, we go often beyond legal compliance. We have put in place a program of improvements at our terminals – to further reduce emissions of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs can cause air pollution – and may pose a health risk, which is why we assess not only the emissions themselves, but also their overall ‘social impact’ – which we aim to reduce by at least 20%. Our direct carbon footprint is relatively small and we work to make it even smaller towards our ambition to be climate neutral by 2050. Even so, as a responsible corporate citizen, we also work to reduce our CO2 emissions.

Worldwide, we are responsible for approximately 1,500 hectares of land. So, it is important that we avoid spills that may contaminate local soil, groundwater, or the sea. Our aim is to have no uncontained spills. As part of our standards, we require our terminals to have ‘secondary containment’, often additional barriers or walls where there is risk of a spill – in tank pits, for example, pumps or loading stations. This ‘secondary containment’ helps prevent spills seeping into the nearby environment. As a result, spills that do occur are contained and cleaned up as quickly as possible.

With regard to biodiversity, Vopak’s impact assessments cover not only air quality and possible contaminations, but also emissions of light (which can have an effect on bird behavior and migration), as well as noise and possible risks to archaeological sites. Hazardous waste is regulated through our Waste Management standard; this applies to all entities.

Preparing for emergencies
Given the nature of our business, there’s always the possibility of a safety incident. Our Terminal Health Assessment (THA) and Assure program focus on major accident prevention. Terminals are regularly audited to make sure they meet the standards. Our assets – tanks, pipelines, pumps and jetties – are regularly maintained. We have a rolling three-year maintenance program. All assets are properly designed, with safety paramount. This is not just about assets and compliance, however. The program also helps us ensure we have employees with the right skills to maintain and operate our terminals safely. Also that our policies, processes and systems support an effective safety-first culture. Vopak’s terminals are equipped and tested annually on their emergency and crisis response. At our terminals, a typical Emergency Response Plan (ERP) includes different scenarios, as well as recommended responses and escalation procedures. Local authorities are also involved closely in drawing up these ERPs.

Human & labor rights
We respect international human and labor rights. We screen all major investments for potential human rights issues. With regard to labor rights, we have identified locations most at risk of violations – in these locations, we verify that at least minimum conditions are being met. We also support the ‘living wage’ principle, and work directly with contractors on health & safety standards, human rights, ethics and integrity. For employees, we provide competitive salaries and benefits – we reward performance and work closely with trade unions and other employee representative groups at our terminals and facilities. In addition to our own staff, we employ thousands of contractors across our operations. During 2019, these contractors outnumbered Vopak employees. Contractors often work on construction sites, or on maintenance projects. We also provide regular safety and operational training to contractors; their obligations are set out clearly in our Supplier Code. Contractors and suppliers must comply with this Code, as well as with Vopak’s Sustainability Policy, living wage approach and international human and labor rights standards. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals

We have chosen four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to act as a guide in our approach to sustainability. These are the areas where we believe we can create the most value for stakeholders and society as a whole – by supporting the transition to better, lighter fuels and low-carbon energies, in providing a safe working environment, in preventing air, water and soil pollution, and in building resilient, sustainable infrastructure at ports around the world.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

At Vopak we facilitate the energy transition by creating reliable access to energy and cleaner fuels and by exploring ways to develop storage and handling solutions for a low-carbon future. We aim to reduce our own footprint and improve our energy efficiency.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

In storing vital products today and tomorrow, safety is our first and foremost priority. This includes ensuring a safe and secure working environment for all people working at and for Vopak.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

To realize our purpose, we develop, maintain and operate reliable, sustainable terminal infrastructure in ports around the world. We adopt and invest in environmentally sound technologies and processes. We explore the introduction of more sustainable technologies and processes and work on the digital transformation of our company.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 12- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

We strive for environmentally sound management of the products we store and handle, and we work hard to minimize any negative impact on the environment, in particular by reducing releases to air, water and soil.

More detailed information on our ambitions and targets related to the selected SDG's is published in our annual report.

Transparency

Risk management
Safety, health and the environment are also built into our approach to risk management. We carry out regular risk surveys – and take action to mitigate risks. For 2019, the principal risks included climate change, the energy transition and the risk of a major safety incident. Vopak’s Executive Board has ultimate responsibility for risk management – we have an internal control framework, based on three ‘lines of defense’: operational controls at our terminals, oversight by divisional and global management, and internal audit, ensuring full compliance. Our internal control framework is regularly reviewed and updated, where necessary. On environmental controls, we support recommendations from the TCFD (Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures), and use this framework to assess climate-related risks and opportunities and stresstest our portfolio and strategy by using scenario analysis.

Responsible tax
Vopak acknowledges that paying tax is part of its social responsibility. In 2019, Vopak paid EUR 71 million in corporate income tax. In where we pay tax, Vopak’s business strategy is leading. Vopak complies with the letter and spirit of the law. As a result, Vopak pays tax in the countries where its economic activities take place.

Materiality assessment

Vopak carries out periodic ‘materiality’ exercises. These enable us to identify ‘material issues’ – those topics that are most relevant to our stakeholders. The exercise is based on input from various stakeholder groups. with our stakeholders, we have identified the following sustainability topics as being material* to our business: 

Environmental topics

Financial & governance topics

Social topics

1 Air quality: VOC emissions and other air emissions  9 Business ethics & integrity 17 Process safety
2 Soil & groundwater pollution 10 Application of best practices 18 Occupational health & safety
3 Water pollution 11 Customer acceptance and continuation
19 Training and education
4 Waste 12 Financial performance 20 Nuisance
5 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions 13 Innovation 21 Labor conditions  
6 Energy use 14 Remuneration 22 Human rights 
7 Water management 15 Supplier acceptance and continuation 23 Diversity
8 Biodiversity 16 Taxation 24 Community engagement & charity 

* as defined in the materiality matrix within the GRI-4 framework.

Does Vopak make choices not to store certain products?

As a service provider, we store and handle energy and chemical products that the market demands. Products that are critical to people’s daily lives, yet can endanger their health or the environment if handled and stored inappropriately. Our role and responsibility is to provide efficient, safe and clean storage and services. We abide by existing rules and regulations as a minimum and adopt best practices whenever possible. And we explore ways to facilitate the introduction of more sustainable technologies, processes and products.

Does Vopak's sustainability approach also apply to joint ventures?

Our ambition level on sustainability is the same within joint venture companies as in 100% Vopak companies. Where our standards are not met, we will use our influence within the joint venture and work with our partners to achieve Vopak standards.

How does Vopak report on sustainability?

Vopak started publishing a sustainability report in 2009. Starting with the Annual Report 2014, the sustainability report is included in the Annual Report. Vopak follows the G4 Sustainability reporting guidelines.