Last year, Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd’s (PCG) overall sustainability efforts were recognised by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indices (DJSI) 2021, which placed it among the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global BMI based on economic, environmental and social criteria. It also positioned PCG as one of the top 10 chemical companies in the world index and the top three in emerging markets.

“We also sustained a four-star rating from FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia for our environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures,” say its chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim and managing director/CEO Mohd Yusri Mohamed Yusof in the group’s latest annual report.

The group, which has been named a joint winner of The Edge Billion Ringgit Club’s Best CR Initiatives award among the super big caps this year, also reached a key milestone with the establishment of its Net Zero Carbon Emissions (NZCE) roadmap, which aligns with Petronas Group’s roadmap of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

According to the report, climate action has become a top priority in the group’s sustainability agenda, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 13, one of the 17 SDGs established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, which deals with climate action.

“Our ability to create long-term stakeholder value depends on how we mitigate and adapt to the imminent environmental threats and opportunities. With this in mind, we established PCG’s NZCE roadmap to guide our climate change strategies and navigate the global shift to a low-carbon economy.

“The roadmap also aligns with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, which help investors and other stakeholders fairly assess our climate resilience. Part of our climate strategy includes setting ambitious carbon reduction targets, starting with a 20% reduction by 2030, towards an ultimate goal of becoming net zero by 2050,” say Abdul Rahim and Mohd Yusri.

According to the duo, part of the group’s long-term approach to taking care of the environment includes contributing to a circular economy — a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, leasing, reusing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible — in particular plastic waste.

“We will leverage our expertise and resources to accelerate the region’s shift towards a New Plastics Economy (NPE), ensuring responsible consumption and production for a more sustainable planet. Our commitment to NPE includes exploring ways to convert end-of-life plastic waste into pyrolysis oil, creating an end product of certified circular polymer resins,” they say.

In 2021, the group made progress with a process trial of converting plastic waste into circular naphtha at a Petronas refinery in Melaka. It also conducted a feasibility study on converting end-of-life polyethylene terephthalate (PET) articles to recycled food-grade PET resins.

“Our efforts to solve the plastic waste problem contribute to the Malaysia Plastics Sustainability Roadmap 2021-2030,” say Abdul Rahim and Mohd Yusri.

The roadmap was launched by the Malaysian government in December 2021. It identifies strategies and action plans for achieving plastic circularity within the country. The roadmap governs plastic production, consumption, recycling and waste management in a holistic manner. It also identifies unnecessary single-use plastics that should be phased out by 2030 through redesign, innovation and reuse.

Apart from the environment, the group continued to provide support to the communities in which it operates via the Covid-19 Relief Programme last year, which included providing essential items and aid to the underprivileged and low-income groups. The group also supplied healthcare frontliners with gloves, masks and other protective gear.

The culture of helping those in need has also been instilled in its employees, many of whom reached out to those in need during the devastating floods — one of the worst in recent history — that hit the nation at the end of last year.

“As part of our corporate responsibility, employees collected and distributed food and other essential items at Petronas service stations, as well as made personal contributions to the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) worth over RM250,000 through PCG employees’ own salary deductions. Their efforts helped minimise potential inequalities, hunger and poverty among hard-hit communities.

“We are proud of the progress made by our dedicated employees in driving PCG’s sustainability agenda. It truly shows how businesses can achieve growth that creates positive outcomes for everyone. As we continue to prioritise shared value and positive EES (economic, environmental and social) impacts, we would like to thank our stakeholders for their roles. Solving sustainability challenges requires a collective effort, so we would not have made such progress without their trust and support. Moving forward, we will continue to embed sustainability at the core of everything we do,” the duo adds.