Stephan Serfontein accredits sustainability award to Omnia’s efforts to do good business

The CFO unpacks the industry-leading initiatives behind Omnia’s recent sustainability award win.

Omnia has been named the 2022 Best Sustainable Diversified Chemicals Group in Africa by Capital Finance International.

“I am exceptionally pleased about Omnia winning the Best Sustainable Diversified Chemicals Group in Africa award, and proud to be part of a company that is dedicated to doing good, while doing business,” says CFO Stephan Serfontein.

He explains that the award acknowledges Omnia’s consistent efforts to not only minimise any harm that may arise from the group’s operations, but also increase the positive impact of the business on the environment and the communities in which it operates.

“I am encouraged that more and more businesses are advancing sustainability within their organisations, both through initiatives and as a manner of doing business. Sustainability is not about making a business look good. It should be embedded within the business culture as it is the right thing to do, and the right way to do business,” Stephan says.

Omnia has done just that, committing to strive for the highest sustainability practices throughout the business. “We have been steadfast in integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into our core strategic framework, which has guided both internal and external initiatives.”

Some of the standout efforts that contributed to this award win include Omnia’s improvements in emissions and the launch of renewable energy projects at its manufacturing facilities. “Aligned to our 2030 sustainability strategy targets, we have invested towards solar projects to supplement our electricity requirements,” Stephan says.

He explains that the group’s emphasis on used oil recycling also sets it apart, with its BME subsidiary consuming almost 25 million litres of used oil annually in South Africa alone. The used oil is applied in Omnia’s blasting emulsions. “Through this initiative, we have been contributing to the global imperative of ensuring the safe disposal of oil, as one litre can contaminate a million litres of water.”

Additionally, Omnia’s broad-based employee share scheme empowers its employees to share in the continued value the company creates. “This initiative also demonstrates the social aspect of our commitment to sustainability.”

The chemicals group’s ESG plans don’t stop there, as Omnia plans to bolster the efficacy of its sustainability initiatives. “Our vision is to continuously strive to achieve zero harm and make a positive impact through responsible business practices, ultimately contributing to a better world. We continue to work towards this by embedding a culture of environmental stewardship and social responsibility, backed by appropriate investments into tangible sustainability initiatives, within and outside of the business,” Stephan says.

He adds that the group is on track to achieve its 2027 goals, which include a 12 percent increase in water recycling, 12 percent increase in renewable energy consumption, and a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions.