Commercial planning professional with 9 years of experience supporting executives, sales force and managers to improve internal processes and market knowledge, with good understanding of areas such as: business analysis; cost accounting; sales & marketing; manufacturing operations. Proficient in all standard office desktop software.
BR sat down with Cristina Sima, Environmental Senior Manager at TenarisSilcotub, about the company’s sustainability plans and focus, its importance, both for the company and the industry that it’s part of, environmental protection strategy, the campaigns and the circular economy.
By Romanita Oprea
How do you consider the topic of sustainability is approached by companies in Romania?
Sustainability is an essential business requirement, for any sector or company, to maintain its license to operate, key to succeed on today’s environment.
The three-pillar concept of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental) should be at the core of every company. In Romania, large companies follow the trend set by Europe (especially following the directive published in 2014 that makes publishing non-financial indicators reports mandatory), but for the medium and small companies this direction is still in an incipient stage and a small number of companies take this topic seriously and commit to it. Nevertheless, lately companies are starting to be more open to what concerns sustainability and create visibility for what they’re doing for the quality of life, health and safety, education, community. Within this context, Tenaris is committed to strengthening a corporate culture of integrity, transparency and rational decision making, while continuing to improve its performance on environment and minimizing our footprint.
Sustainability should become part of our day-to-day life, at a personal and professional level. All of us are becoming accountable for our work, health and safety, environment and so on.
Still there is a lot of room to grow in education towards what sustainability entails. However, there is a momentum and hopefully it will prevail.
How is TenarisSilcotub approaching sustainability? Why is it important?
TenarisSilcotub is the leading Romanian manufacturer of small diameter seamless pipes used in various applications in the energy, mechanical and automotive industries. With a team of over 1,800 people in Romania and production facilities in Zalău, Călărași and Câmpina, we operate an integrated industrial system to ensure the long-term sustainability of our operations.
In our company, we approach this subject in a very serious manner, I would say it is embedded in our signature. Our commitment is first towards the protection of our employees looking for their safety, health, and well-being, aiming to achieve zero injuries and occupational illnesses throughout our industrial system. So, we foster an environment where human sustainability is developed through growth from within, long life learning and education on all levels. This direction is built on the belief that we create teams and cultures which work well through training, development, diversity, and listening to our people.
Sustainability is also related to our commitment to drive inclusive growth and development in our communities, where we work and live, promoting a culture that rewards merit and encourages enterprise, as much academically as in terms of personal efforts.
As an industry leader, we believe that our responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of our activity is an opportunity to embrace innovation and technology change.
Within the last 10 years, Tenaris’ commitment to the environment towards economic sustainability has become a constant dedication. It is a responsibility and a commitment we have made for our environment respect procedures, standards and, at the same time, the place in which we live and work. By being sustainable, we ensure our long-term presence.
How is the steel industry perceived and what role does it play in the context of sustainability?
As previously said, sustainability is a broad concept, encompassing several aspects, but the steel industry has worked and is committed to continue improving its economic, social, and environmental performance. Steel is an essential part of the world economy and development and will be equally fundamental to meeting the challenges of the future.
As per environmental aspects, the steel industry is a source of carbon emissions worldwide and has joined efforts to promote transparent reporting and to act on reducing emissions, with Tenaris wanting to play a leading role in these initiatives. In fact, in Tenaris we have integrated climate change risks into our governance and business strategy and established a medium-term target to reduce the carbon emissions intensity rate of our operations by 30% by the year 2030, compared to a 2018 baseline (considering Scopes 1 and 2 emissions plus Scope 3 emissions related to raw materials, including steel purchased from third parties). Furthermore, we allocate a significant part of our capital investments to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations, and advancing educational standards and opportunities in our communities, all of which we consider critical to our long-term sustainability.
In terms of circular economy, the steel industry – in general – drives more reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, all key elements of the circular economy. Modern steels are stronger, lighter, and more durable than ever before. The steel industry works intensively with its customers, from design to end-of-life, to share our material knowledge to ensure that steel is used as efficiently as possible in any given application and to introduce new advanced steel products.
What are TenarisSilcotub’s top priorities when it comes to sustainability?
TenarisSilcotub’s top priorities find source in our company’s commitment to lead with care, providing a flexible and agile working environment, while allowing employees to develop their skills and careers. Our people, their enthusiasm, ideas, efficiency, and skills are our most valued asset and top priority since they are the precursor for business growth and unlocking a more sustainable future.
Furthermore, we take pride with our commitment to reduce our environmental footprint within our communities and value chain, working with partners and peers to address the climate change challenge and transition to a carbon neutral economy.
Tenaris is also committed to strengthening a corporate culture of integrity, business ethics, transparency and rational decision making.
In terms of community relations, we have three major pillars: education, health and culture, with special focus on education, through programs addressing from kindergarten to post-graduate. Our priority is technical education, where we invest in scholarships for students in the technical schools from our communities, summer internship for students in technical high schools, training courses for teachers and also equipping technical schools with modern equipment. Having a forward-thinking mindset, we have managed to change the curriculum to be applied to the work requirements.
How do you engage your workforce within the company (environmental) sustainability objectives?
We have corporate activities, at both global and local levels in Tenaris. We engage our workforce in focused trainings on specific topics such as Management of leaks and spills of chemical, events Investigation, to share practices of analysing environmental and safety events to identify the root of the events and therefore find an effective way to prevent them. Moreover, communications campaigns play an important part, hence we develop dedicated communication pieces like company magazine, TenarisToday articles (the global intranet), environmental updates, video, social media, events, and so on. For a better understanding of the processes and multilevel coordination, we created the communication routines, dedicated biweekly meetings that shift leaders have with their team members where environmental topics are on the agenda.
At local level, we design and implement awareness campaigns such as zero plastic, environmentally friendly water recipients for all employees, #FaraHartie internal initiatives, and advancing with the implementation of energy efficiency projects. A major role is played by the top management team because they are actively involved in and support all internal sustainability actions. Additionally, our teams are also engaged through awareness campaigns which are built on accountability and prevention.
What is TenarisSilcotub’s environmental protection strategy?
Our outmost commitment is to reduce our environmental footprint and contribute to global and regional goals addressing climate change risks.
For our team the focus is environmental protection. We rely on four major objectives, as to ensure that we prevent and minimise any impact. Although we already have a small CO2 footprint, as I mentioned before, we are committed to reducing CO2 emissions by a further 30% by 2030, with concrete plans to produce green steel. We foster the circular economy by maximizing scrap recycling and minimizing waste to landfill. And we ensure responsible water management. The strategy is to prevent, recycle and transform all waste.
What initiatives is Tenaris undertaking at the global and local level in respect to circular economy? Can you give a specific example?
First of all, it is important to know that all our steel is produced in electric arc furnaces, where recycled steel scrap is used as the primary source of metallic feedstock with substantially lower carbon emissions than steel produced using iron ore and metallurgical coal as the primary feedstock. The EAF technology is one of the pillars of decarbonisation and a sustainable alternative for steel production. This is the “cleanest” technology available in the steel industry worldwide and the resulting products have a 95% recycled content.
And, at local level, our steel mill in Romania is part of Retrofeed, a waste to energy project within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, that is testing different materials used in the steelmaking process to enhance circularity. This includes reusing materials which can be a source of energy, replace coal, and thus contribute to lowering the carbon footprint. Moreover, more than 550,000 tons of scrap and 5 alternative materials are recycled annually in our Calarasi steelworks.
In the last 5 years we have managed to achieve a 98% recirculation rate of the water used in the production process, and a 14% efficiency in electricity consumption. During this period, our efforts have also helped us to reduce our indirect CO2 emissions intensity by 16%.
How is Romania at the national level, approaching this topic, what are the challenges and opportunities?
We see two important challenges in the Romanian market, which are, at the same time, two major opportunities: one is the lack of technology and, the other, is the lack of incentives.
When we talk about technology, the biggest challenge is to further develop as to process as many types of waste and alternative materials as possible, and to actively pursue the development of technologies involving the use of hydrogen.
Regarding an incentive system, we believe that one of the directions should be to create a balanced bonus-malus system, thus creating an economic rationale for waste recovery and avoiding final disposal. If we paid for everything we generate and were rewarded for everything we recover, more companies would be encouraged to pursue this direction.
We believe that the future of the metals industry lies in the ability to deliver high quality products aligned with new technologies and sustainable processes.
In short, technology and a balanced incentive system to encourage the circular economy are our challenges and opportunities in the present times.
What are the key trends in the steel industry in respect to environment and climate change?
The material environmental aspects for the steel industry are air emissions, water management, circular economy, and co- product management and finally climate change. All these topics are, as said, material for the steel industry, and the industry has been working for many years in improving performance on these different aspects thus contributing to the sustainability of the sector. Tenaris has followed the same trends making significant investments for improving emission performance, water management depending on where we have identified problems and improvements possibilities.
There is not a silver bullet for the steel industry. Each region is and will have to foster a portfolio of measures, including policies that target technology progress, material efficiency, infrastructure development and other enabling conditions, because not all regions will be able to pursue or achieve the same technology changes or transition.
On the other hand, many of the technologies able to significantly reduce emissions are in an early stage of commercial development, and for sure this poses an additional challenge for the sector. The steel industry is working to reinforce energy and material efficiency, a whole range of different actions to reduce direct and direct emissions in the long term.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I feel that my role in TenarisSilcotub helps me make a social change in terms of sustainability and environmental protection. It’s enhancing the small steps I take every day to have more nature-friendly habits alone. It motivates me when I see that our initiatives have a real positive impact on the environment. I am also proud to be part of a team that is truly dedicated to this cause. With every initiative we take, we commit to the planet as professionals, as a company, but most of all, as human beings.