During a recent pre-K event in Austria, Sustainable Plastics caught up with Lucrèce Foufopoulos, executive vice president — polyolefins, circular economy and CTO at Borealis for a quick interview.
In a Q&A, she discusses how the materials company is navigating its sustainability journey.
Q: Since the last K, there have been quite a few organizational changes at Borealis. How did that happen so quickly? And has it affected your sustainability commitments in any way?
Foufopoulos: To start with the last part of the question: if anything, the effect has been a positive one, but let me put this into a bit more context. Indeed, we've been through quite a number of changes. However, Borealis today is still an independent company, with two shareholders. OMV is our majority shareholder and Borealis is fully consolidated in OMV's figures. In terms of governance, we have an executive board with five members and a supervisory board with representation from our shareholders OMV and Mubadala.
Another, not unimportant factor is the investment capability we have today. As Borealis alone, our investment capacity would be far less than with the backing of a very successful company like OMV. Furthermore, the complementary capabilities of OMV and Borealis, and our shared commitment to circularity are a source of strength.
Q: Both your shareholders are oil and gas companies, with one located in the Middle East, an area still very much the oil center of the world. To have this very strong commitment both to change and to sustainability is perhaps a bit unexpected?
Foufopoulos: Definitely, the Middle East is still an oil center for the world. Nevertheless, they recognized early the need to evolve towards a more sustainable future. A particular example is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, a pioneer in sustainability and more sustainable urban living. This commitment to sustainability is a cause we share. If you fail to provide a complementary sustainable offering and just adhere to a merely fossil-derived offering, you are jeopardizing your licence to operate.
We just floated 10 percent of Borouge on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange through an initial public offering. As ESG (environmental, social, governance) has gained significant importance on capital markets in recent years, it is expected from Borouge and Borealis alike to further advance and accelerate an environmentally responsible and compelling investment story.
Q: Borealis has announced the introduction of the Borealis Strategy 2030, which CEO Thomas Gangl called "our roadmap to making life more sustainable for future generations." The ambitions are quite steep. Can you explain in a little bit more detail how the company will achieve these?
Foufopoulos: We have developed quite detailed plans and road maps on how to get there. And these are constantly being validated — there's a whole mechanism around this. And last year, we decided to roll out a new operating model for polyolefins.
Obviously, for every company it is complex to handle existing operations while growing a sustainable business. The latter comes with significantly more complexity — complexity in the number of feedstocks we need to handle, the number of technologies, the number of assets and the number of products, subject to new certifications and regulatory requirements.
We decided last year to futureproof our operating model, which involved, among others, setting up a dedicated transformation office with a dedicated circular economy solutions organization and project management office.
We also aspire to drive more empowerment and more accountability in the organisation. In the past, we were more functionally organized. Today, we're more decentralized, with more empowerment and speed in decision making, freeing up more time for the transformation.
It all boils down to becoming more fit for purpose, to becoming futureproof.
Secondly, we are converting our strategy into really actionable road maps that can bring the strategy down to the floor.