Sustainability
Published: May 25, 2022
Sustainability
Published: May 25, 2022

Mats Hägerström: Collaborating on Sustainability One Step at a Time

Meet Mats Hägerström, our recently appointed regional sustainability leader for EMEA, based in Vantaa, Finland. He explains what our main focus is regarding sustainability and how to align the many big projects necessary to bring a more holistic and systematic approach to the processes. Mats also introduces the launch of the 2021 PPG Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Report, celebrating our commitment to sustainability and sharing our successes and challenges with the world.

Fairly New to PPG but No Stranger to Sustainability

Mats joined us as part of the Tikkurila acquisition and considers himself still fairly new to PPG. He is, however, no newcomer to sustainability, with nearly 20 years of experience which he gained also thanks in part to his curiosity to study industrial environmental economics.
 
He is in the midst of helping to establish the company’s decarbonization strategy, attending strategic business unit meetings, helping colleagues connect with the right people, and attending various industry association meetings.
I am positively surprised by my colleagues' openness, straightforwardness, and can-do approach, and impressed by their depth of knowledge.
 A big task on Mats’ and the broader team’s to-do list is to evaluate our climate related risks and opportunities to then define science-based targets and forthcoming actions.

Assessment and Education about Our Climate Change Footprint 

The sustainability team is focusing on understanding our emissions sources. PPG has committed to set near-term company-wide emission reductions in line with climate science with the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi).  SBTi is an organization that helps companies define their decarbonization strategy and impact on climate change. 
 
This is being achieved by evaluating both direct and indirect emissions from sources not owned or controlled by PPG, including raw materials, use of sold products and product end-of-life, otherwise known as Scope 3 emissions. With this knowledge, they can start identifying where improvements can be made and identify new targets to be validated by SBTi.
 
The biggest sustainability priority for the team, or the “elephant in the room,” as Mats calls it, is the European Green Deal. They are currently closely following the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability under the EU Green Deal to ensure we provide comments to advocate for risk-based, sustainable solutions supported by sound science. We also will seek opportunities to participate in the development of laws, regulations and policies that the European Union and member countries will be developing to support the deal’s objectives. 

Environmental, Social & Governance at PPG 

Mats is focusing on distilling all the activities the team is working on into a concise message that can be shared with our colleagues, customers and suppliers. Being a spokesperson for sustainability within the EMEA region.
 
The team also recently developed and launched the 2021 ESG Report. In the report, we detail advancements in our sustainable innovations, board governance of ESG, efforts to reach our 2025 sustainability goals and further actions to support customers’ sustainability goals. 
It's quite a broad deck of information. But I believe every PPG employee should explore the report, particularly those who want to understand our customers better.

Aligning Our Products with a Sustainable Agenda

As part of our sustainability efforts, the product stewardship team is working alongside our strategic business units (SBUs) to assess their products and meet the challenge to qualify them as being sustainably advantaged. Mats says the enhanced dialogue with the SBUs is key in raising the awareness of sustainability and being able to feed the performance back.
 
“We need to continue to educate employees on the updated sustainable product assessment process to support innovations that tackle sustainability challenges.”
 
Mats knows that sustainability is a key focus area and a critical component of our business strategy. He is seriously impressed by all the challenges our coatings formulations meet. 
We have fantastic products that not only beautify but protect surfaces. This gives us a very strong story to go forward with. The challenge is being able to quantify it.

“No Regrets” Following a Career in Sustainability and Beyond

Having made the decision at an early stage in his life to make sustainability the fundament of his career, Mats says it’s been really interesting and challenging. He has “no regrets.”
 
“I don't believe that incorporating sustainability into our lives requires a big revolution. Small shifts are good. We can alter the system without having to go back to the horse and carriage.”
 
When he’s not flying the flag of sustainability, Mats likes to build wooden constructions with the support of his wife, who’s an architect. As Mats likes to say, “my wife is the boss, and I’m the executor.” In Finland, it’s common for people to have second homes, and Mats’ “summer place” is in the middle of the Archipelago Sea!
 
“That's where I relax and build. I've built one main house and two smaller houses there, and they need constant upkeep.”