08 December 2015

How to combine sustainability with business?

How to combine sustainability with business? That was the focus of a presentation I gave at the Global Compact Nordic Network meeting held in Helsinki at the beginning of December. A very current issue both at the global level, with regard to the new Sustainable Development Goals for example, and also here at Neste.

In my presentation, I emphasized the need to integrate sustainability into strategy. Rather than being simply an add-on, sustainability needs to be seen as a strategic opportunity. Why? Well, to tackle global challenges, such as climate change, we need to innovate and transform business to become more sustainable. We need to change business from the inside out and this involves embedding sustainability into strategy.

For example, Neste's strategy is based on a renewed vision "Creating responsible choices every day". It sets the direction for our ambition to grow and offer our customers low carbon solutions. In 2015 we changed our name from Neste Oil to Neste. The only way is forward, as our slogan says!

Businesses must seize opportunities to make a difference with regard to global challenges and see their role in the world. In a recent public statement, Neste President and CEO Matti Lievonen stated that evidence of climate change is compelling and that a universal agreement is needed to keep global warming below 2°C. In addition, Lievonen emphasised that businesses must be proactive. "But aren't you also in the fossil fuel business?", skeptics might ask. Yes, indeed, and replacing all fossil fuels in traffic is not possible. But this does not mean change is not possible. In fact, change is required and we at Neste have risen to the challenge.

Business with a difference

Traffic related carbon dioxide emissions are increasing the fastest. People, services and goods will keep on moving in the future. It is clear that low carbon alternatives for traffic must be increased. Neste is the leading producer of renewable diesel in the world and the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel from waste and residue raw materials. The use of our NEXBTL renewable diesel has been found to result in up to 90% lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil diesel.
 
The effects are impressive. During the last three years, Neste has turned waste weighing more than 10 times the Empire State Building into fuel, cut carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to what 1.3 million homes produce in a year, and produced enough Renewable Diesel to drive a car around the world 3.4 million times. Companies such as UPS and Google and cities like Oakland, California, are reducing their carbon footprint with the use of our NEXBTL renewable diesel.  

Innovating renewable products requires us to keep on exploring new sustainable solutions. NEXBTL renewable diesel is made from 100% renewable raw materials of which over 70% are waste and residue, and the rest certified crude palm oil. By integrating sustainability into strategy and investing in renewable raw material research, Neste has achieved the capability to use 100% waste and residue in the production of NEXBTL renewable diesel.

What next? Renewable raw materials can also replace fossil oil in other applications, such as plastics, and we are also exploring new and exciting opportunities in these areas. In fact, Neste targets to have 20% of its renewable business sales volume from non -traffic applications by 2020. How? By keeping sustainability within our strategy so that we will continue to create responsible choices every day. 

 

kaisa hietala
Kaisa Hietala
(born 1971)

Executive Vice President, Renewable Products
M.Sc. (Physics), Finland and M.Phil. (Env.Sc.), UK
Member of the Neste Executive Board since 2014.