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Kraton’s CPO Suzanne Pesgens on opportunities offered by the TfS initiative

The American company Kraton joined TfS in May 2020 bringing the total TfS membership to 26 chemical companies. TfS Communications interviewed Suzanne Pesgens, CPO of Kraton, on her expectations and how she sees Kraton contributing to the TfS initiative. With Kraton fully focused on accelerating environmental and social improvements, Ms Pesgens believes TfS is the platform where chemical companies can collaborate more effectively across the industry. As TfS allows cross-reads of CSR scorecards, she anticipates that the resulting efficiency gains will enable Kraton to focus more and more on continuous improvement and corrective action plans (CAPs). This will lead to a more effective Responsible Procurement program. In addition, Kraton considers TfS to be the ideal platform to shape the future and image of the chemical industry!

Question: First, on behalf of the TfS membership, we wish you a very warm welcome to the TfS initiative. Before we discuss your expectations, can you briefly describe your company?

Kraton develops, manufactures and markets biobased chemicals and specialty polymers that deliver exceptional value and enhance the lives of people all over the world. As a leading global producer of styrenic block copolymers (SBC) and pine chemicals, we manufacture high-performance materials that differentiate our customers’ products and meet multi-market needs. Our global footprint, reliable supply, extensive expertise and integrated portfolio of high-quality products enable our customers to push the boundaries of performance to power the future of innovation.

Q: How do you feel as a brand new TfS member? What does it mean to become a TfS member?

Kraton is proud to join Together for Sustainability. As a leading global supplier of styrenic block copolymers and pine chemicals, we aspire to make a Positive Difference. Kraton’s alignment with TfS enables us to more effectively collaborate across the industry – from our suppliers to our customers – to accelerate environmental and social improvements.

Q: Can you describe your approach to sustainable supply chain, sustainable procurement?

Specifically, in the last 2 years we have directed our efforts to sustainability of supplier management. The heart of our supplier management process is a re-iterative process of supplier performance evaluation and improvement. We focus on our key supplier base to keep this process manageable from a resource perspective while still ensuring it is effective. The EcoVadis platform and CSR scorecards are being used to assess supplier performance. This year we will start to develop action plans for suppliers in certain sections of our portfolio.

Q: What drove you to take the decision to join TfS and why TfS in particular?

To be successful delivering on our commitment to drive sustainability improvements across supply chains, we realized we would need partners that think alike. We believe that TfS is the right platform to fill this need: TfS hosts 26 reputable, multinational chemical companies representing more than $460B in total revenue and $306B in spend, that have consistently shown their commitment to sustainability over the years.

Q: What does your company expect to gain from the TfS membership, how do you see the mid-to long term benefits from TfS membership?

Sustainability is integral to achieving our vision of becoming an admired Fortune 500 specialty chemical company that delivers exceptional value to shareholders, customers and employees. As a new member of TfS, we expect to benefit from best practice sharing amongst the member companies. Despite having been awarded with a gold medal by EcoVadis recently, we realize we have a world of opportunity ahead of us!

At Kraton, we are committed to safe and sustainable operations. Our program “Responsible Procurement: Making a Positive Difference” aims at accelerating environmental and social improvements across our supply chain in collaboration with our key partners. Through its partner EcoVadis, TfS provides member companies to cross-read supplier CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) score cards. We expect significant efficiency gains as a result of this data sharing initiative. As a result, we expect to be able to dedicate our resources more and more to supplier corrective action planning following the principle of continuous improvement, which will improve the effectiveness of our Responsible Procurement Program.

Last but not least, TfS consists of companies in the chemical industry that take sustainability seriously, so collectively we have the power to shape the future and image of the chemical industry! This is imperative, as more and more stakeholders are looking to businesses to address environmental, social and economic issues.

Q: Which challenges, opportunities do you anticipate encountering when rolling-out TfS in your organization?

Sustainability in business is often described as a journey. It is fair to say that the road can be curvy at times. To make this journey a successful one, we felt it would be necessary to find a way to make the meaning of sustainability tangible and relevant to our employees. In short: Truly embed sustainability in our organization. We figured that aligning our sustainability strategy and actions with our business priorities would do just that. Therefore we focus on sustainability creating value by contributing to our ability to grow, improve productivity and reduce risk. A few examples illustrate our approach aimed at involving each layer and discipline in our organization.

On growth: For a specialty company this means growth thru innovation. Our R&D team focuses on developing sustainable customer solutions that enable the bio economy (through our pine chemicals portfolio) and connect the circular economy (through our styrenic block copolymers offering). Related to improved productivity we strive towards ensuring optimal use of plant capacities, increasing resource efficiency and lowering emissions and waste. Reducing risk is a key part of, amongst others, our Responsible Procurement Policy.

Q: Where do you see your company contributing to the TfS initiative, also take your sustainability expertise into account?

As a new member, we will be able to look at TfS discussion topics with a fresh pair of eyes and contribute accordingly. We will actively take part in strategic discussions on TfS growth and impact. In addition, we feel we will be a valuable addition to teams working on topics relevant to the society as a whole, such as the circular economy for example.

Q: To conclude this interview, do you have any closing remarks?

We are proud being part of TfS now, especially as we achieved it through cross-functional approach touching each layer of the organization. We take this recognition as tangible evidence of our commitment to sustainability!

Note: Picture features Suzanne Pesgens, CPO Kraton

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