Managing ESG at Schnitzer
A Conversation with Schnitzer’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Judodine Nichols
In January 2022, Schnitzer announced Judodine Nichols as Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). Previously the Company’s Vice President of Innovation, Nichols is focused on broadening Schnitzer’s Sustainability program and further integrating its goals into the fabric of the Company’s operations.
From the way we source, process, and transport recycled materials to the energy we use to produce sustainable steel, Schnitzer is well-positioned to meet the demands of the low-carbon economy of the future.”
How has Schnitzer’s sustainability program evolved over the last few years?
Schnitzer’s core business of recycling and resource recovery has been embedded in our sustainability performance since day one. What’s evolved over time and especially over the last several years is a holistic approach to sustainability as an integral part of our growth strategy whereby our program serves as a guidepost for delivering environmental, social, and economic value to our stakeholders.
In 2019, we established sustainability goals that aligned directly with the issues that matter to our stakeholders. This year we made significant progress toward achieving those goals by maintaining 100% net carbon free electricity, reducing our Scopes 1 & 2 GHG emissions at our recycling operations by 24% against our 2019 baseline, deploying an ISO-certified environmental management system, increasing employee participation in our wellness programs, and donating more than 1,100 volunteer hours in our communities. We continue to advance and evolve our goals, which clarify our focus and rally our teams around our framework of People, Planet, and Profit.
As we expand our platform, invest in new technologies, and offer our customers net zero products and services, we move with intentionality to meet our sustainability objectives and deliver solutions to an increasingly metal-intensive economy.
How has your past role in innovation influenced your approach to the CSO role?
Innovation is all about questioning what comes next and creating new opportunities for success. Whether the goal is to improve an existing process, make it more efficient, or completely flip a challenge on its head, innovation is critical to material growth. During my time as the Company’s VP of Innovation, I gained an intimate understanding of the innovation landscape that will impact our operating model and the technologies and solutions needed to keep our business running strong.
This knowledge applied to my role as CSO means I am constantly challenging our team to identify ways to advance sustainability performance through the lens of innovation as we navigate the evolving risks and opportunities within our industry and beyond.
Where do you see Schnitzer’s sustainability program headed in the near-term?
Global emissions reduction commitments and the acceleration of supply chain decarbonization efforts serve as an important backdrop to our program priorities in both the near- and long-term. Looking to the next three to five years, our key priorities include increased stakeholder engagement, an expansion of our partnerships with vendors, suppliers, customers, and communities, as well as a focus on enhanced data capture and reporting.
Engagement efforts start internally as we seek to contextualize sustainability, a term that has come to mean so much, in a fast-paced and operationally focused environment like ours. The success of our program requires both top-down and bottom-up tactics of applying our sustainability principles to the decisions we make. This is true for the implementation of our capital investments and growth initiatives as well as cultural norms around safety, environmental management, and community building efforts. The bottom line is every Schnitzer employee has a meaningful impact on our sustainability performance and engagement on this connection is paramount to our ongoing success.
Turning the engagement focus externally, we are evaluating our supply chain for opportunities to extend the reach of our program efforts. Through the expansion of green power partnerships, deployment of renewable energy systems and alternative fuels, and pilot offerings for innovative technologies, we will fast-track progress toward goals shared by our vendors, suppliers, customers, and community and government partners.
To achieve both our internal and external engagement goals will require efficient access to reliable data. In the near-term we will focus on enhancing our ability to extract and analyze real-time sustainability performance data to drive more nimble decision-making processes and communicate our impact to a broad range of stakeholders.
I am encouraged and motivated by the progress and achievements this year. Through the continued engagement and support of our valued employees, we are ready to take on the challenges together in the years to come and meet the demands of the low-carbon economy of the future.