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Sustainability Strategy

Building on a history of customer-focused solutions through responsible and proactive strategy

Koppers continued to advance our Sustainability strategy in 2020 through our focus on our Purpose: “Protecting What Matters. Preserving the Future.” Over the course of the year, we placed considerable emphasis on strengthening our Sustainability governance structure and developing forward-looking Sustainability goals across our business functions.

Sustainability Vision

We are honored to be in service of something bigger than ourselves, and our decision-making will be driven by the greater role we can play in impacting our world for the better. That’s why for us, Sustainability is about operating our business in a way that ensures we are taking care of our people and communities, fostering an inclusive and innovative workplace, being a good steward of the environment, and contributing beneficial products to society for generations to come. Doing what’s right is the only true way we can earn the opportunity to remain in business, offering value — in all its forms — to our employees and our external stakeholders.

Sustainability Governance

Enhancing oversight and focus

Koppers Sustainability strategy is ultimately overseen by the Board of Directors and its Sustainability Committee, chaired by Sharon Feng, Ph.D. Through the Committee, the Board assesses Koppers Sustainability policies, programs and performance by reviewing management practices and results. Significant legislative, regulatory and social trends around Sustainability are also monitored by the Committee. The Committee meets regularly with Koppers Executive Officers and managers responsible for Sustainability management to discuss the latest Sustainability developments.

The Koppers Leadership Council, composed of the Company’s executive leaders, oversees our Sustainability strategy. Koppers Chief Sustainability Officer, Leslie Hyde, sits on the Leadership Council and drives Koppers global Sustainability strategy through the Council and Koppers Sustainability Leadership Team, which sets the strategic direction for Sustainability and is supported by two groups: the Steering Committee and the FAST Teams.

The Steering Committee manages the day-to-day execution of Koppers Sustainability strategy. Bringing together leaders from Koppers Zero Harm, Culture & Engagement, Operations, Sales, Communications and Logistics functions, the Committee’s structure reflects our comprehensive approach to Sustainability.

Koppers Sustainability Steering Committee connects leaders from across the Company to help execute our Sustainability strategy through three primary areas of responsibility: oversight; reporting; and continuous improvement. The Committee carries out its responsibilities through five subcommittees: Advocacy; Benchmarking; Communication; Data & Metrics; and Education. While the subcommittees’ specific tasks vary, they are united in their work to realize Koppers Sustainability strategy and goals. Each subcommittee develops, implements and maintains various Sustainability support systems, programs and initiatives. Subcommittee leaders meet frequently with the Steering Committee and among themselves to discuss Sustainability-related developments, as they arise. The subcommittees also support Koppers FAST Teams and assist them in setting Koppers Sustainability goals and executing them.

Koppers established the FAST Teams in 2020 to advance our Sustainability goal-setting efforts and ensure a grassroots approach to creating meaningful change across the Company. To ensure the widest impact possible, each Team focuses on developing goals for a specific material-focus area of our business.

Sustainability Strategy and Materiality

Assessing our impacts and driving change

In early 2020, we completed a materiality assessment, which identified 13 material topics that shape our Sustainability strategy. The materiality assessment evaluated a diverse slate of Sustainability-related topics covering environmental, social and governance issues. To guide the assessment, we evaluated various sources and frameworks, including: the American Chemistry Council Responsible Care® guidelines, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Chemical Sector Roadmap for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) standards for the Chemical and Building Materials & Construction industries.

The American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care® Guiding Principles are a foundational element of our Sustainability strategy. As a Responsible Care® signatory, we are committed to improving our environmental, health, safety and security performance across our facilities, processes and products.

Upon completion of the materiality assessment, we shared the results with our senior leaders for validation and determined our final 13 material topics. We further divided our 13 topics into three Sustainability pillars to define our Sustainability strategy and guide our progress. We continue to leverage the materiality assessment’s results and our material topics to refine our Sustainability strategy and develop our goals.

Koppers Materiality Process

Koppers Material Topics

Sustainability Goals

Driving progress

Throughout 2020, Koppers established our first Sustainability goals to connect our purpose of “Protecting What Matters. Preserving the Future.” to the achievement of our Sustainability Vision of being in the service of something bigger in our world. We established 10 FAST Teams, each tailored to a specific material focus area of our business, to spearhead the development of our Sustainability goals.

Based on the FAST Teams’ material focus area, leaders from applicable Koppers business functions were chosen to lead each Team and guide a cross-functional group of employees with related experience. To direct the Teams’ efforts, Koppers Sustainability Steering Committee prioritized 10 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which Koppers could make the greatest impact.

The Teams began their work with training sessions on the SDGs to familiarize themselves with their history and purpose. Additionally, the Teams participated in training on environmental, social and governance factors and how they can impact their own work and Koppers. Each Team focused on one or more of the prioritized SDGs, depending on their focus area, to develop actionable goals aligned with the objectives of the SDGs. During goal development, each Team evaluated Koppers current activities and proposed future opportunities and potential metrics to guide their work. The Teams also developed their goals to be consistent with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). In addition to their goals work, the Teams also serve as Koppers subject-matter experts on their focus SDGs.

Our Prioritized SDGs

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

  • We contribute to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages through our Zero Harm culture and health and wellness programs.

Goal 4: Quality Education

  • We contribute to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by providing our employees with the educational opportunities they need to succeed and supporting and mentoring students during their educational journeys.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

  • We contribute to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls through our work to build an inclusive and diverse workforce where all of our employees feel engaged, included and valued.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

  • We contribute to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all through our focus on reducing our energy consumption, incorporating renewables into our energy mix and supporting sustainable energy infrastructure.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • We promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Our circular economy solutions decouple economic growth from environmental degradation and our people-focused pursuits keep employees safe and position them for success.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

  • We support the backbone of global infrastructure with our products and services. With our circular economy solutions, we contribute to building resilient infrastructure and we promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • We contribute to making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by reducing our environmental impacts and supporting our local communities through philanthropy and volunteering for a variety of causes.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

  • We utilize waste, scrap and renewable materials to produce circular-focused products, such as railroad ties and utility poles, which contribute to sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13: Climate Action

  • We are evaluating opportunities to combat climate change and its impacts through reduction of our GHG emissions and increase of our facilities’ resilience and adaptive capacity relative to climate-related hazards.

Goal 15: Life on Land

  • We support life on land by operating our facilities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner and seeking out opportunities to improve our footprint. One such example is our pilot floating wetland project, which helps to better manage stormwater impacts to freshwater ecosystems.

Stakeholder Engagement

Communicating internally and externally

We recognize the importance of engaging with our internal and external stakeholders in order to ensure the success of our Sustainability strategy and our business. We value our stakeholders’ perspectives and use their feedback to shape our actions.

Our approach to stakeholder engagement ensures frequent and transparent communication with our employees, customers, trade associations, suppliers, investors, regulators and communities.

We strive to develop strong connections with stakeholders in the communities where we operate and live through proactive communication from our local representatives. Through our stakeholder connections, we share updates on our local facilities to inform stakeholders of our operations and any developments that might impact them. We encourage our stakeholders to share any question, observation, concern or idea with us and to the extent possible, we address all raised matters.

Our facilities often partner with local first responders to conduct exercises for potential emergencies that might arise on our premises, including fires and hazardous material spills. Our local exercises help ensure both our employees and first responders are knowledgeable about and prepared for emergency events, thereby increasing safety for all stakeholders.

Mayfield, Australia Facility Keeps Local Community Informed

Our Carbon Materials and Chemicals facility in Mayfield, New South Wales, Australia, recently expanded its community engagement efforts with the creation of a Community Reference Group (CRG). Open to anyone within the local community, the CRG holds quarterly meetings to inform the public about the facility’s activities and to gather constructive feedback to enhance community relations. Meeting discussions cover safety moments, general updates about operations at Koppers and the Mayfield facility and questions from community members. The facility governs the CRG’s community engagement through its Community Charter, which outlines its aims and sets guidelines for its engagement activities. The facility supplements its CRG engagements with local community newsletters that circulate both in print and electronically to more than 4,000 local residents. Published two to three times a year, the newsletters discuss the facility’s ongoing improvement projects, local charity and NGO partnerships, and involvement in legal and regulatory matters. The newsletters also spotlight facility employees and their roles and local involvement in “Meet the team” features. Local community members commended the Mayfield facility’s community engagement efforts and the increased transparency they bring to important topics.

External Initiatives and Involvement

Engaging in shared missions

Koppers engages with a wide range of organizations that share our values. Our engagement with industry and trade associations, among others, informs us of key developments and viewpoints of major industry participants, including regulators and product safety groups. Our external engagement also enables us to connect and communicate with our industry peers to share best practices for safety and sustainability.

In 2020, Koppers employees were active in the following external organizations:

OrganizationBusiness Unit FocusCountry/Region Focus
American Chemistry CouncilPerformance ChemicalsUnited States
American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Accredited Standards Committee O5 — American National Standards for Wood Utility PolesUtility & Industrial ProductsUnited States
American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way AssociationRailroad Products & ServicesUnited States
American Short Line and Regional Railroad AssociationRailroad Products & ServicesUnited States
American Society for Testing and MaterialsKoppers Global Technology CenterUnited States
American Wood Protection AssociationRailroad Products & Services, Carbon Materials & Chemicals, Utility & Industrial Products and Performance ChemicalsUnited States
Australian Forest Products AssociationPerformance ChemicalsAustralia
British Woodworking FederationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Canadian Wood Preservation AssociationPerformance ChemicalsCanada
Coal Chemicals Sector Group (EU)Performance ChemicalsEurope
Creosote Council EuropeCarbon Materials & ChemicalsEurope
Creosote Council IIICarbon Materials & ChemicalsUnited States
Engineered Wood Products AssociationPerformance ChemicalsAustralia
European Chemical Industry CouncilCarbon Materials & ChemicalsEurope
European Institute for Wood PreservationCarbon Materials & ChemicalsEurope
Finnish Wood Preserving AssociationPerformance ChemicalsEurope
Forest Industries Federation Western AustraliaWood ProductsAustralia
Forest Products Research SocietyUtility & Industrial ProductsUnited States
German Wood Preserving AssociationPerformance ChemicalsEurope
Global Green TagPerformance ChemicalsNew Zealand
GoRail (Go-21)Railroad Products & ServicesUnited States
National Railroad Construction & Maintenance AssociationRailroad Products & ServicesUnited States
Nordic Fire-Retardant AssociationPerformance ChemicalsEurope
Nordic Wood Protection AssociationCarbon Materials & ChemicalsEurope
North American Maintenance Railway ClubRailroad Products & ServicesNorth America
North American Wood Pole CoalitionUtility & Industrial ProductsNorth America
Pacific Power AssociationWood ProductsAustralia
Railway Tie AssociationRailroad Products & Services and Carbon Materials & ChemicalsUnited States
Railway Association of CanadaRailroad Products & ServicesNorth America
Royal Warrant Holders AssociationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Society of American ForestersUtility & Industrial ProductsUnited States
Southern Pressure Treaters AssociationUtility & Industrial Products, Carbon Materials & Chemicals and Performance ChemicalsUnited States
Structural Timber AssociationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Swedish Wood Preserving AssociationPerformance ChemicalsEurope
The Mineral Metals and Materials SocietyKoppers Global Technology CenterUnited States
Timber Industry Federation/Timber Preservation CouncilPerformance ChemicalsNew Zealand
Timber New South WalesWood ProductsAustralia
Timber Preservative Manufacturers AssociationPerformance ChemicalsAustralia
Timber Preservers Association of AustraliaPerformance ChemicalsAustralia
Timber QueenslandPerformance ChemicalsAustralia
Timber Research and Development AssociationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Timber Trade Industry AssociationWood ProductsAustralia
Treated Wood CouncilAllUnited Kingdom
UK Forest Products AssociationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Western Timber Trade AssociationPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Western Wood Preservers InstituteAllUnited States
Wood for GoodPerformance ChemicalsUnited Kingdom
Wood Preservation CanadaPerformance ChemicalsCanada
Wood Processors and Manufacturers AssociationPerformance ChemicalsNew Zealand
Wood Protection Association Performance Chemicals United Kingdom