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Environment, health and safety: maintaining momentum in a transformational year

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Learn how our people continued to run our plants safely and efficiently, and keep our customers served in this excerpt from our Annual Report 2022.

Covid-19 continued to challenge us this year, requiring huge efforts from our people to continue to run our plants safely and efficiently, and keep our customers served.

Environment, Health and Safety

This was another year of progress, despite many challenges such as the global pandemic, supply chain disruption and high customer demand. While keeping customers front of mind, we didn’t forget our focus on the everyday, ongoing safety of our people and processes, and our longer-term goals for environmental sustainability. We are pleased with the progress we made on our environmental targets and commitments, particularly exiting coal in our operations four years ahead of schedule; and that we continued to do well on process safety, thanks to the team’s efforts around combustible dust and chemical management.

CONTINUING TO MANAGE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

When the pandemic started in 2020, we established local response teams who were empowered to make decisions on the ground, depending on local circumstances, under the overall guidance of our Global Pandemic Response Team. In this second year of the pandemic, our site leaders continued to rise to the challenge, dealing with new issues that arose, not least the toll on people’s mental health from the ongoing state of uncertainty, and increasing levels of frustration. With the pandemic an ongoing daily reality, our people’s resilience and commitment to help each other this year was all the more commendable.

We were really helped in our management of Covid-19 by the global, standardised structure of our Journey to Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Excellence (J2EE) programme, which has been in place since January 2018. In 2020, we adapted this programme to integrate food safety and product quality processes, and the work we do on site security. The programme is designed to involve everyone within Tate & Lyle in strengthening our EHS culture and performance, and this paid off during the pandemic. Our cloud-based reporting tool, Gensuite, was important here, since we were able to adapt it quickly to record infections, quarantines and vaccinations, meaning we had data early on. And because our people were already used to sharing ideas and reporting concerns through Gensuite, it was natural to use it for managing Covid-19 issues as well.

BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES FOR J2EE

In practical terms, J2EE involves each site introducing standardised protocols and passing through a series of stages, or tollgates (seven in total), with the help of colleagues who champion a particular aspect of EHS culture (element owners).

Passing a tollgate involves a rigorous assessment carried out by internal EHS experts. We were really pleased with the ongoing progress despite the pandemic – by the end of March 2022, two sites had passed tollgate 1, six sites tollgate 2, eight sites tollgate 3, 16 sites tollgate 4 and two sites tollgate 5. And we were particularly proud that our McIntosh, Alabama, US site was the first to pass tollgate 6. We also encourage employees to tell us about any EHS concerns they may have, no matter how large or small. This year, they raised 5,720 concerns, and we were pleased that 75% were addressed within our target of 30 days, up from 73% in 2021.

Nonetheless, Covid-19 brought some challenges for the programme, because ultimately good performance is about culture, which is much easier to maintain when people are together face-to-face. Not only could we not send out our global engineers to sites, but the sites themselves had to operate with fewer people at a time, and in more socially-distanced ways. However, with travel increasingly back on the agenda, and more people allowed on-site, we expect progress to pick up again in the coming year.

A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE

Talking of the coming year, J2EE was a strong basis for the launch of Primient as a standalone company, and it remains central to both Tate & Lyle and Primient. Over the years we’ve operated the programme, we have adapted and expanded it with experience and ideas from people across the business, while always holding on to its key principles.

This makes it an excellent tool for integrating new plants and sites, as we’ve seen with our acquisitions in the last two years. Our commitment to J2EE, and to meeting our 2030 environmental targets, remains stronger than ever.

Read more about our work in Environment, Health and Safety on pages 52-62 of our Annual Report 2022.