Solvay SA is a Belgian chemical company with its head office in Brussels that offers a broad range of products that contribute to improving quality of life and its customers’ performance in markets such as consumer goods, construction, automotive, energy, water and environment and electronics.
It is one of the world leaders in high-performance specialty polymers and the world leader in soda ash and hydrogen peroxide. It also provides its leadership in specialty chemicals (silica, rare earth formulations), products designed for large consumer markets (surfactants and natural polymers, acetate tow) and engineering plastics based on polyamide 6.6.
Solvay’s main businesses
Solvay Chemicals is the world’s largest producer of soda ash, hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate. It is also a global leader in specialty products such as fluorinated chemicals.
Solvay Plastics is the leading world producer of specialty polymers and vinyls and has the widest plastics range available.
Solvay Rhodia is a world leader in the development and production of specialty chemicals and provides added-value products and high-performance solutions to diversified markets, including automotive, electronics, flavors and fragrances, health, personal and home care, consumer goods and industrial.
Solvay is among the top 10 worldwide largest chemical company. It is present in 55 countries with 110 industrial sites and employ 29,000 people worldwide. Net sales in 2011 reached € 12.7 billion.
Within the Company’s General Secretariat, the Government & Public Affairs team is responsible for transmitting Solvay positions to politicians and government officials and for informing the company on upcoming legislation. The mission of Government & Public Affairs is therefore to
- Promote, coordinate and advocate in accordance with Solvay’s values the Group’s interests and long term vision towards public authorities within the highly regulated environment of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry.
- Raise the Group’s awareness on the general political context, on the main challenges faced by public authorities and on more specific policy issues.
- Promote the Group’s reputation within public authorities
More generally speaking, there is a growing trend towards a concept of Sustainable Development, even beyond Europe’s borders. The focus is on finding a balance between economic growth, social progress and environmental protection. In the debates of such major issues, a group like Solvay must constantly be reminding society that respect for the environment and social progress must go hand in hand with economic growth- failing which all development will grind to a halt.
This means that a company of the magnitude of Solvay must be in constant contact with political decision-makers at both national , European and global levels.
The Competence Centre’s (CC) name “Government & Public Affairs” (GPA) is aimed at clarifying the team’s role by focusing on governmental and parliamentary contacts rather than on communication at large. The team is composed of eight highly motivated members from different disciplines, seven in Europe and one in the USA. Their success is very much dependent on the active support of the Group’s specialists. The team relies on such experts who can best analyze the impact of any future regulation on the business world and know the best way to respond.
The GPA team itself focuses on defending the Group’s interests and listening to political, parliamentary and administrative circles. For them it adapts the technical messages prepared by Solvay specialists in such a way that they will be easily understood- decision makers are not technicians. Drafting a brief logically, coherently and comprehensively is a prerequisite for any positive outcome. Any set of arguments will have a bigger chance of being taken into account if it is prepared and presented to the right circles at the right time- not too early, not too late.
The GPA team also makes good use of professional associations. These are seen as equally essential transmission belts, Solvay cannot afford to work alone. The Group’s presence in these associations gives it access to useful information and surveys, permits better coordination within the industry and ensures that Solvay’s specific interests are taken into account.
At the European level, the GPA runs the EUROPA meetings where representatives of the three Sectors and the CCs Energy, HSE (Health, Safety and Environment), Communication, Legal and CPN (Corporate Purchasing Network) get together on a monthly basis. On a national level, the GPA network includes representatives of the CCs businesses and site manager and is actively backed by the Country Managers.
Before communicating a Group position to political decision-makers, it is of course necessary to define it in detail. The EUROPA meetings are used to finalize such “position papers’ giving the Solvay viewpoint on specific questions and reflecting the Group’s overall position. They are one of the GPA’s main communication tools.
Following Group strategy, it is GPA objective to develop outside Europe. Geographical expansion in emerging countries with high growth rates call for a good knowledge of local customs and political connections. It is essential to develop new networks there.
Issues and Challenges
Sustainable Chemistry: A modern and innovative chemistry with a reduced environmental footprint.
Climate Change and Energy: Solvay supports the global fight against climate change and welcomes public and industrial initiatives in the area. As an energy intensive manufacturer Solvay is committed to reaching the highest technically and economically possible performance regarding energy consumption. As a supplier of chemical specialties and commodities, Solvay will responsibly manage and minimize climate impact of its products and processes.
Recycling: Recycling is an integral part of Solvay’s sustainable strategy. Solvay encourages recycling processes particularly for plastics and fluorinated gases and encourages the establishment of regional and national agreements for collection and recycling.
Safety at Work: The urgency of climate challenges, increasing global population, the need to conserve natural resources requires Solvay to force the pace. Solvay’s strategy is one of openness to an ever faster changing world. Chemistry plays an integral part in multidimensional networks. Solvay’s ambition is to better integrate its Chemical and Plastics offerings into global value chains. As a manufacturing company, our Group intends to position itself as an indispensable partner for new solutions. Solvay possesses strong credibility and a capacity to face up to emerging problems. These challenges are global and the whole world must be drawn into finding answers to them. Problems must be solved by getting all stakeholders around the table. Companies can contribute to finding solutions to the planet’s major challenges, for example via their capacity for technical innovation. Interaction between all players- on the political, social and economic fronts- is indispensable.
Solvay’s Memberships in Associations
Solvay is active in many relevant local, regional, national, and supra-national business associations, especially in geographical areas where Solvay has industrial activities. At the European level and in the U.S., Solvay is a member of the following:
- European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT)
- European Council of the Chemicals Industries
- American Chemistry Council (ACC)
- Plastics Europe
- European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)
- European Vaccine Manufacturers (EVM)
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)