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Company background 

Tata Steel is Europe's second largest steel producer, with steelmaking facilities in the UK and the Netherlands, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies products and services to the most demanding markets, including construction, automotive, energy & power and aerospace.

The construction industry is Tata Steel’s largest single market, and the Group offers a range of products and systems that can be segmented according to their primary function – the structural frame (sections, tubes, composite floor), infrastructure, building envelope (roof and wall products) and internal fit out applications (HVAC). In all markets, Tata Steel works closely with its customers to deliver solutions aimed at improving the cost-effectiveness and speed of construction, and enhancing the functionality and performance of buildings and infrastructure. 

In terms of responsible sourcing, Tata Steel has led the way in the steel sector, with Colorcoat® products manufactured at its Shotton plant being the first BES 6001 certified pre-finished steel products available to the market. Initial certification was secured in 2010 and the products have been recertified to a ‘Very Good’ rating every year since. This case study describes Tata Steel’s subsequent, successful certification of its remaining construction products portfolio to BES 6001 in August 2014.

Tata Steel's motivation

Construction industry clients, including those involved in Government funded projects, are increasingly seeking to prove that their products have been responsibly sourced. Main contractors, architects and engineering designers are in turn asking their supply chains probing questions about this vital element of sustainability, and the onus is on manufacturers, such as Tata Steel, to prove that their products have been responsibly produced and their constituent materials responsibly sourced.

Moreover, it was clear that certification of its remaining UK manufactured construction product portfolio to BES 6001 would provide Tata Steel with further, independent recognition of the progress it had already made following the adoption and roll-out of a comprehensive internal responsible procurement policy in 2011. This policy emerged in response to:

  • Increasing market interest in responsible procurement (as evidenced by the emergence of BES 6001 and its growing uptake).
  • Wider societal expectations with regard to the ethical, environmental and social performance of the supply chain of large companies.
  • The need to ensure and consolidate responsible procurement practices within the context of the Tata values and the Tata Steel vision to be the world steel benchmark in corporate citizenship.

Certification process

Tata Steel embarked on the new phase of its BES 6001 certification process in early 2013 which successfully culminated in August 2014 in the certification of its UK manufactured construction product portfolio, achieving a ‘Very Good’ rating.

In order to secure certification, Tata Steel showcased a pre-existing policy and ethics framework comprising, amongst others, foundation policies on environment and human resources, a Tata Steel Group Responsible Procurement policy and the Tata Code of Conduct.

In a review of the company’s site practices, Tata Steel demonstrated that it has a comprehensive range of sustainability related policies and practices in operation across all of its plants and operations. It has implemented a new energy efficiency governance mechanism across its operations, made substantial investments to ensure compliance with government zero waste policies, implemented strategies for monitoring and reviewing water use, calculated its transport impacts and set targets for reducing them, maintained a focus on the health and safety of its employees as its number one priority, developed the Tata Steel Academy to optimise the  skills development of employees, and launched a company-wide programme aimed at making positive impacts on its local communities.

In the context of an integrated iron and steel producer, the standard also requires due diligence to be performed on all iron ore suppliers, and Tata Steel has been able to demonstrate that very high proportions of the iron contained within its products manufactured  in the UK come from organisations with quality and environmental management systems certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 respectively.

Tata Steel Europe Head of Environmental Policy and Strategy, Peter Quinn said: “Tata Steel is leading the way with responsible sourcing and takes its environmental and social responsibilities very seriously.  It is not always easy to validate green credentials, but BES 6001 is an independent standard recognising companies that go that step further to achieve sustainability.  

Achieving responsible sourcing certification might be relatively straight forward for some construction products, particularly those that use only local materials, but for a multi-national, integrated steel manufacturer like Tata Steel, supplying a wide range of construction products, the task is of a greater magnitude than has been attempted before.” 

Customer benefits

 A major plus for developers and builders of steel buildings is that BES 6001 provides, at no extra cost, considerable assistance in obtaining the credits available in the Responsible Sourcing of Materials sections of BREEAM. BES 6001 certification can also assure clients who are looking for independent third party certified assurance, that the supply chains they are using are responsible. 

Jonathan Clemens, Tata Steel’s Head of Marketing Construction & Infrastructure, said: “Having our construction products certified to BES 6001 enables us to benchmark our sustainability performance in the construction sector and demonstrate that we are continually improving in this area. We now supply the widest range of construction products certified to BES 6001 and in the case of certain construction products, such as Celsius structural hollow sections, Colorcoat pre-finished steel and ComFlor composite floor decking, we are the first company to have acquired this certification. As a result, more than any other steel supplier, we can offer specifiers, contractors and building owners the reassurance they need when meeting the UK Government’s requirements for sustainable development. Many of our customers will be on their own journeys towards achieving BES 6001 and they will be reassured to learn that we have already done much of the hard work for them.”

Thanks to Tata Steel’s pioneering efforts in becoming the largest company, with the most complex supply chain, to have achieved certification to BRE’s sustainability standard, BES 6001, designers can specify Tata Steel products with confidence that they are responsibly sourced.