Belgian chemicals group Solvay has pledged to “significantly” reduce the climate impact of its operations, ending a long-running spat with activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners.
On Tuesday, Solvay announced plans to reduce the release of limestone residues directly into the sea from its facility in Rosignano, Italy. The company intends to spend 15 million euros on new technology and process to achieve that goal. Further investments are planned with the aim of eliminating all limestone residues and halving CO2 emissions from the process by 2050, the company added.
Bluebell, which previously criticized Solvay over its waste management practices at the Rosignano plant, said it was “pleased” with the company’s steps to improve its environmental performance.
Solvay’s promise to “significantly reduce the discharge of solid materials directly into the sea and accelerate investments to reinvent the soda ash production process with all its environmental benefits are huge steps forward,” said Bluebell partner and co-founder Giuseppe Bivona in a statement Tuesday.
In 2020, Bluebell said the Rosignano facility was responsible for an ongoing “environmental disaster” in the area, which the activist called “just an open landfill of Solvay’s industrial chemical waste.”
“We appreciated the recent constructive engagement with Bluebell and I’m thrilled we have found a common ground,” said Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri on Tuesday. A year ago, Bluebell accused Kadri of being in “total denial” over the environmental and social impact of the Tuscany plant and called for her sacking.
At this year’s annual meeting, Solvay directors were discharged from liability despite a climate-focused campaign against them by Bluebell, whose arguments were acknowledged by proxy voting advisory firm Glass Lewis.